MANILA — Government will "surely intensify" the war on drugs while shifting its focus on the grassroots level, seeking the help of communities, and introducing youth-centered programs, the Department of the Interior and Local Government said on Friday.
The DILG made the statement after President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. this week said the Philippines had no intention of rejoining the International Criminal Court, which could reopen its investigation into killings under the drug war of his predecessor Rodrigo Duterte.
"We will surely intensify the war on drugs. But you know, for me, it’s not just the police who should move on this. It is one thing that everyone should act on this," said Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos.
"Mas maganda siguro kung magtulungan tayo. Yung ugat nito, which is the community, the school, the family, everyone should help," he said in a Palace briefing.
(Perhaps it is better if we help each other. The root of this, which is the community, the school, the family, everyone should help.)
Abalos said the interior department would strengthen the Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Council.
The agency also eyed rolling out "activities for the kids, with one theme: say no to drugs," he said.
"It could be through sports, culture, arts, singing, we could have themes every month... as long as the kids will know na 'pangit pala 'yan (droga), hindi maganda yan," Abalos added.
Marcos has so far not issued any specific directive to new Philippine National Police Lt. Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr., said Press Secretary. The 220,000-strong PNP is under the DILG and at the helm of the anti-narcotics campaign.
"Paalala ko lang po, bahagi din naman po ng peace and order program ng Presidente yung continuity. So whatever it was that has already been there from the past administration, if it works, we continue that program," she said in the same briefing.
(Just a reminder, the President's peace and order program include continuity.)
At least 6,000 people have been killed in anti-illegal drugs operations since July 2016, data from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) showed.
The ICC last year authorized a full inquiry into the alleged crimes against humanity under the drug campaign. But it suspended the probe 2 months later on Manila's request, which cited its own investigation.
But ICC prosecutor Karim Khan said in June the probe should restart because the Philippines was supposedly not investigating the killings.
Duterte, who left office on June 30, pulled the Philippines out of the ICC in 2019 after it launched a preliminary probe into the crackdown.
"The Philippines has no intention of rejoining the ICC," said Marcos, who won the May elections with Duterte's daughter, Vice President Sara Duterte.
"Ang sinasabi naman namin, may imbestigasyon naman dito at patuloy rin naman ang imbestigasyon, bakit magkakaroon ng ganoon?" Marcos said on Monday.
(What we are saying is there is an investigation here, it continues, so why there should be another probe?)