Rights group, kin of drug war victim have high hopes but 'skeptical' with Marcos' revamped drug war

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 27 2022 09:28 PM

Fr. Flavie Villanueva, SVD condoles with family members of alleged extra-judicial killing (EJK) victims during a prayer service and the turnover of urns at the Shrine of the Divine Word, Christ the King Mission Seminary in Quezon City on September 28, 2022. Jire Carreon, ABS-CBN News
Fr. Flavie Villanueva, SVD condoles with family members of alleged extra-judicial killing (EJK) victims during a prayer service and the turnover of urns at the Shrine of the Divine Word, Christ the King Mission Seminary in Quezon City on September 28, 2022. Jire Carreon, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Mariza Hamoy keeps herself busy by selling food items to customers online and by taking care of her three children 6 years after her son, Darwin, got killed at the height of former President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war. 

Her son died in a birthday party after allegedly fighting back against the police during a buy-bust operation last August 2016. She denied her son sold illegal drugs. 

On Saturday, the Marcos administration launched a fresh drug campaign anchored on human rights and drug use deterrence, vowing that they would catch bigger illegal drug traders. 

This is an overturn of his predecessor’s flagship domestic policy, which killed at least 7,000, based on data analyzed by the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group.  

But Hamoy hoped that this campaign would be true to what it promised.

“Basta siguraduhin po na totoo. Kasi para sa kanila naman ‘yan eh. Mahirap kasi hulihin ang buntot dapat ang ulo ang hinuhuli,” Hamoy said.

‘“Pangarap ko sa anak ko hustisya lang talaga para manahimik din siya… masakit bilang isang magulang.. [Kung ikaw] magulang, anak niyo patayin ko, sabihin ko sa inyo nanlaban, nilagyan ng shabu, ano mararamdaman niyo? Masakit,” she added. 

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The National Union for People’s Lawyers said it was “skeptical” with the new drug war program but maintained that they had to see how it would be implemented first. 

The rights group also stressed the importance of replacing police personnel involved in the previous administration’s “Oplan Tokhang” as well as the retraining of cops. 

“Without reorientation, without them reforming yung kanilang ranks, we’ll see the same atrocities and the abuses that occurred in the past,” NUPL President Ephraim Cortez told ABS-CBN News. 

“Ito yung nababahala tayo. Ano man ‘yung ini implement nila, there will always be atrocities and abuses dahil hindi naman nagbago ang orientation ng ating police forces,” he added. 

REHABILITATION 

Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos already tasked local leaders to submit their respective anti-drug plan of action, just as he hoped that the drug problem could be solved first at the grassroots level. 

For Kagawad Bobot Mira, vice chairman of Barangay Old Balara’s Anti-Drug Abuse Council, rehabilitation works. 

Barangay Old Balara, among the biggest villages in Quezon City, remains a hotspot for illegal drug peddlers, with nearly 100 killed there at the height of Duterte’s drug war. 

Mira said illegal drug use remains as a health issue. Since the previous administration, he said his barangay is already implementing rehabilitation and counseling services to drug users. 

“Maraming gustong magbagong buhay, siguro unang-una iniisip nila ang pamilya nila. Magbago na sila dahil may anak naman ‘yan. Siguro pag napapaliwanagan lalong-lalo na sa ginagawa naming intervention, naipapaliwanag naman sa kanila,” Mira said. 

The Philippine National Police told ABS-CBN News that while their framework will center on drug demand reduction “with strict adherence to the rule of law and human rights,” it would intensify its crackdown on illegal drug traders.

Police Spokesperson PCol. Redrico Maranan said it has started since earlier this year its Anti Illegal Drug Operation through Reinforcement and Education (ADORE) program, which aims to help drug users. 

This is focused more on the “holistic approach with other government agencies that could help in the rehabilitation of drug offenders so that they will become productive citizens again when reintegrated to the community,” Maranan said in a text message.

“The government is serious in eradicating this social menace,” he said.