MANILA — President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. on Saturday said his administration would also look into the politics of drug war, most especially the syndicates behind it, as he aims to shift the lens of the country's anti-narcotics campaign.
Speaking at the Asia Society forum in Manhattan, New York, Marcos acknowledged that the country’s anti-drugs program is a significant one, saying close to 4 and a half million are supposedly drug addicts in the Philippines.
"As I come into office, you see, you cannot stop the drug war. The problem continues to exist. What we can do is to examine and learn lessons, from the experience of the past administration," Marcos told former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd during an interview.
"Close to 4 and a half million actual addicts in the Philippines and the corrosive effect on that on society, on criminality, on the drug syndicates etcetera, even the politicization of the whole drug syndicates and their networks is something that we have to deal with," he added.
The Philippine leader, who emphasized in previous speeches that his drug war would focus on rehabilitation, put forward 3 points on his drug war approach: mapping and prevention, cure, and enforcement.
He said the enforcement of authorities must focus on methods that start with the young ones, "let us adjust our focus and let us also look at prevention."
"For the enforcement, look I am not interested in the kid who makes P100 a week selling weed, that is not the person I want you to go after," said Marcos.
In line with this, he said the chain of the drug supply in the country must be looked into cohesively so they could go to the root cause of the problem.
"I want you to go after people, who if we get them, if we neutralize them or put them in jail. Whatever it is, we will make an actual difference so that the supply of drugs, the system of distribution, the system of importation, much of it really comes from abroad, that will actually make a difference, that will put a stop to it, that's what we are working on right now," he added.
These ideas were crafted, he said, since the country has a lot to learn from its experience with the bloody drug war of his predecessor, former President Rodrigo Duterte.
During a taped interview aired on Sept. 13, the President said a working group has been formed to formulate the new administration's policies on the anti-narcotics drive.
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.
Based on the research of the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group though, a total of 7,009 drug-related deaths were reported in the past 6 years.
The International Criminal Court (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.
Marcos had said he does not intend to rejoin the ICC, saying he would not let foreigners intervene with the country's laws.