'We have to seize the momentum,' says Andanar
MANILA - A Palace official on Thursday called the Duterte administration's war against illegal drugs a success, with tens of thousands of drug suspects having surrendered already to authorities.
"We have to seize the momentum," Presidential Communications Office (PCO) Secretary Martin Andanar said.
He said, since the government started its intensified campaign against illegal drugs, almost 60,000 drug users and pushers have turned themselves in.
President Rodrigo Duterte, who won by a big margin in the May 9 elections, vowed to wage a "bloody war" against drugs as well as criminality and corruption.
"The voluntary surrender of thousands of self-confessed users and pushers reaffirms our people's renewed faith and trust in authorities. In his resolute campaign against drugs, the President has even made it possible to unite the populace in combating the illegal drug trade," said Andanar.
Andanar stressed, however, that government is against any form of extra-judicial killing.
Since May, over 200 suspects have been killed "while fighting cops" in legitimate buy-bust operations, according to police estimates and various news reports. Dozens have been killed by unidentified assailants.
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"Government is against any form of extra-judicial killings. We do not condone these acts. Government is here to save our people from the drug menace and punish the offenders, including the big-time ones," Andanar said.
"The PNP (Philippine National Police) continues to investigate situations involving vigilante killings and operational aspects where deaths are reported," he added.
The Palace official said plans to build rehabilitation centers nationwide are being undertaken.
In Central Luzon, he said, police authorities are eyeing Subic and Clark to house drug dependents.
"While the campaign against drugs is far from perfect, a generation of Filipinos have been saved from this scourge of society and destroyer of lives. Many communities are now relatively drug-free with record-high number of people giving up to authorities, choosing quieter and healthier lives," Andanar said.
READ: Robredo: Duterte won't condone vigilante killings