MANILA - Law enforcement authorities on Saturday launched a revamped drug war program anchored on physical activities and cooperation from the grassroots level in order to deter drug use and protect human lives.
Thousands of attendees from different barangays and churches from Metro Manila flocked to Quezon Memorial Circle to participate in the zumba and walkathon, as early as 5 a.m.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said its Buhay Ingatan, Droga’y Ayawan (BIDA) program aims to clamp down the demand in drugs through communities.
This is a 180-degree turn from President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr’s predecessor, former President Rodrigo Duterte, whose drug war killed thousands and was marked by alleged human rights violations.
But Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos said the drug war under the current administration must be hinged on human rights and the Constitution.
“Hindi tayo titigil, hindi lang malalaking isda. Ang importante ‘yung tinatawag na demand reduction, yung gumagamit ng droga,” Abalos told reporters.
“What is more important is the whole of nation approach... pupunuin namin ang mga kulungan ng mga pusher,” he added.
He said there would also be a mix of spiritual guidance and physical activities in communities, just ad he asked for the support of local churches for the fight against illegal drugs.
Abalos noted while this approach is soft, their fight against illegal drugs pushers will still have the same intensity from that of the previous administration.
“Gagawin namin ang lahat para matigil ang driga. Kung nagkamali ka, huli ka.”
CHR WELCOME REVAMPED APPROACH
The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) welcomed the administration's drug war approach, but asked authorities to still make sure that those who want to be rehabilitated must not be forced.
It also noted that these activities must be "consistent with the international human rights standards."
"Instead of compulsory or mandatory, the person needs to give full consent, and must voluntarily agree to the program upon the physical activity and rehabilitation begins," the statement sent to ABS-CBN News read.
"We support the need to address the drug problem beyond being a mere issue of criminality, but as a health and social issue requiring a human-rights-based approach without breaching a person’s right to health when it comes to the acceptability and quality of intended intervention."
The interior chief also tasked local leaders to submit their anti-drug program.
The BIDA program was also launched simultaneously in Cavite, Davao, and Cebu.
Around 25,000 people preregistered for the event in the Quezon Memorial Circle.
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.