We can understand the criticism of some that so many of the nation’s major problems have remained unacted upon in the new administration’s focus on the drug problem. But we must also accept the fact that the drug problem is such an enormous one and it continues to unravel before us in all its staggering details.
Early this week, President Duterte said the drug problem has reached a point where he believes he cannot do it alone.
The number of deaths has gone over 3,700 and continues to rise. Hundreds of thousands of pushers and addicts have been arrested or have surrendered. There is no place for them in our overcrowded prisons and we don’t have enough rehabilitation centers. They are bound to go back to their addiction if indeed they have tried to stop.
The President believes there are 3.7 million addicts all over the country today and their number continues to increase. They could reach 4 million by the end of the year. He said there are 10,000 drug networks throughout the country.
What must be particularly galling to the President is the finding that so many men of the Philippine National Police, the force leading the anti-drugs campaign, are themselves drug addicts. The PNP has reported that of 159,000 policemen subjected to random testing, some 200 were found positive for illegal drug use.
Then there is a new list of 160 incumbent and former government officials linked to the drug trade. There are thousands of barangay captains and policemen. One reason for the cancellation of the cancellation of the barangay elections scheduled for Oct. 31, was to prevent the re-election of barangay captains funded by drug rings.
The President said he will have to consult Congress on what steps to take now that the magnitude of the drug problem has become known. Prosecution and the usual judicial processes are an “impossible dream,” he said. Besides, so many on the drug list are themselves judges, he added.
It may be time to set up a special government body to deal exclusively with the drug problem in all its ramifications, from police enforcement, to prosecution and trial, to health and rehabilitation, to education and coordination with the nation’s social, economic, cultural, and religious organizations. President Duterte launched the anti-drugs campaign but he has other problems that he must act upon as the leader of country.