Philippines govt seeks assistance from village chiefs in drug war

PDEA director said that the elected village leaders will play a significant role in helping the government.

Philippines deadly drug war continues
A police line is placed around the body of a man killed by unknown gunmen in Manila, Philippines. Reuters

Realising the need to get the support of grassroot leaders to eradicate drug menace in the country, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) has sought the help from village chieftains and their constituents. In an effort to bring the war against illegal drugs from the national level to the community level, PDEA has urged the local leaders to support the government's drive.

PDEA Director, Isidro Lapena, cited the significant role of the elected village leaders, known as barangay captains, in preventing the entry of illegal drugs known as "shabu" into villages. There are more than 40,000 elected village chieftains in the Philippines.

Lapena said that parents in the community should be vigilant of their children so they can lead them to the right path in life and help them stay away from illegal drugs.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte launched a nationwide campaign against illegal drugs after announcing narco politics exists in the country. The 72-year-old president also said that there are politicians who are serving as protectors of the illegal drug trade.

According to Philippine News Agency (PNA), Duterte said that 40% of elected village officials are linked to drugs and worse, some of them are users of illegal drugs. A number of elected village men have already been arrested for violations of the Comprehensive Dangerious Drugs of 2002, a national law penalizing drug users or traders.

Since Duterte became the president of the country, close to 8,000 suspected drug users and pushers have been killed in several raids carried out by police. A Filipino lawyer earlier contemplated filing a legal case at the International Court of Justice against Duterte and other government officials operating the illegal drugs campaign for violating human rights.

Reports disclosed that there are at least 4 million drug users and pushers in the Philippines, out of which at least one million have already voluntarily surrendered themselves to police since July 2016. The suspects signed a promissory note that they would no longer use, share or trade the illegal drug.

President Duterte, in cooperation with the Philippine National Police (PNP), launched an anti-illegal drug program called "Tokhang," where police operatives will visit houses of suspected drug users to warn them to stop using, sharing or selling the illegal drugs. "Tokhang" is a word of a local dialect in the Southern Philippines which means, knock the door.