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At this rate, gov’t may well meet its 6-month deadline

President Duterte named three Philippine National Police (PNP) star officers and two retired ones in his continuing campaign against illegal drugs in the country this Tuesday. It was the latest development on the drug scene — arrests, surrenders, and killings now seem to be happening daily all over the country.

On the same day, two drug pushers were killed in Cavite, two in Pampanga, and another two in Pasay City. A day before, four were killed by police in a buy-bust operation in Pangasinan. Four were killed in Quezon by unknown gunmen. Some 200 drug users and pushers surrendered to the police in Pasay City. Fifteen surrendered to the mayor and chief of police of Diffun, Quirino. The Western Visayas PNP said a total of 1,323 had surrendered since the start of the new administration. Drug tests were being conducted on policemen and of 2,400 already tested, nine had tested positive.

The new PNP headed by Director General Ronald “Bato”de la Rosa, following the lead of President Duterte, has taken a hard line on the drug problem in the country, with focus on the involvement of policemen, either in connivance with drug lords or as drug addicts themselves.

Surprisingly, the New People’s Army (NPA) has joined in the campaign against drugs. Leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines have ordered the NPA to arrest and kill drug traffickers if they resist. The President sought the NPA’s cooperation and support on drugs in his address at the turnover of command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

When Duterte vowed during the election campaign to solve the drugs problem within three to six months, many doubted he could do it within the time promised. Nevertheless, the people voted for him because he, alone among the candidates, vowed to do something concrete. The promise on drugs epitomized the overall theme of change that won the election for Duterte.

Today, change is taking place in all departments and agencies of the government. The President’s people are moving in agriculture, in mining and other natural resources, in traffic, in Charter change, in Mindanao peace efforts, in Justice Department preparations for impending graft cases. We expect big things to happen in all these areas, but right now, we are impressed by the all-out campaign against drugs.

At the rate the police are making arrests and drug users are giving themselves up, the government may well meet the six-month deadline set by President Duterte. The issue of five high PNP officials named by the President may complicate the situation somewhat, but it should not hold back the momentum of the campaign.