Former President Rodrigo Duterte has turned down calls to become the new anti-drug czar, saying it is now the duty of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to fix the country’s illegal drug problem.
“Mukhang hindi na rin tama [it doesn’t seem right anymore], Pastor, because there is the President duly elected and it is his duty to enforce the law and solve crimes,” Duterte said in a television interview.
Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, Duterte’s erstwhile longtime assistant, broached the idea previously to Philippine National Police Chief Gen. Benjamin Acorda Jr. on Tuesday during a Senate hearing on the multimillion-peso shabu drug haul last year.
Duterte, who has been facing an International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation because of the bloody war on drugs during his term as president, was asked if he would consider working for the Marcos administration.
He stressed that addressing the drug issue is a “matter of leadership,” thus Mr. Marcos should be given the leeway to do so.
“Let us give Marcos the greatest elbow room leeway to do his job in just one year. And in fairness to the police, that’s the problem. The last time I said it, it’s a matter of leadership,” the former president said.
In response to Sen. Go, Acorda said he would support any step that would help in the government’s campaign against illegal drugs.
Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa backed the call to put Duterte in as anti-drug czar, saying it will bring back fear to policemen and criminal syndicates involved in the illegal drug trade.
Dela Rosa served as Duterte’s first national police chief during his administration.
In March, the ICC’s Appeals Chamber rejected the Philippine government’s bid for the suspension of the ICC prosecutor’s investigation into the killings in the war on drugs.
Mr. Marcos then said the Philippines is disengaging from the ICC.
However, Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra in April said the country will still pursue its appeal questioning the ICC’s jurisdiction and authority to investigate killings during Duterte’s drug war.
Government records showed that at least 6,000 drug suspects were killed in police operations from June 2016 until November 2021.
Several human rights groups, on the other hand, claimed the actual death toll may be up to 30,000.
Go raised his question after expressing concern that the efforts of the Duterte administration would be put to waste considering the alleged involvement of some cops in the “recycling” of confiscated drugs.
“Let’s not waste what former President Duterte started to fight against illegal drugs. When illegal drugs return, we know that criminality and corruption will return,” he said.
Dela Rosa, who was the first PNP chief of the Duterte administration, also aired his frustration against the cops involved.
“What I feel bad about is that my case has reached the ICC because of our fight against drugs,” Dela Rosa said.
“Despite this, all you think about is money. You are even in a syndicate,” the senator said, adding he could not stomach this happening to the police “where you join a syndicate.”