Palace: Duterte signed new drug war memo to ‘ac­com­mo­date’ crit­ics

Manila Bulletin - - Front Page - By AR­GYLL CYRUS B. GEDUCOS

Pres­i­dent Duterte re­vealed on Thurs­day that he signed the new anti-drug war mem­o­ran­dum to sat­isfy those who have been crit­i­ciz­ing his cam­paign against il­le­gal drugs due to the ris­ing num­ber of peo­ple who are get­ting killed.

Ac­cord­ing to Pres­i­den­tial spokesman Ernesto Abella, the sign­ing of the mem­o­ran­dum only goes to show how demo­cratic Duterte is and that the Pres­i­dent lis­tens to the peo­ple.

"He gave the di­rec­tive in or­der to ac­com­mo­date, ap­par­ently to ac­com­mo­date those who think the cam­paign against drugs should be con­ducted oth­er­wise," Abella said dur­ing the Min­danao Hour/Ban­gon Marawi press briefing Fri­day.

"And this is say­ing, 'You know if this is the way to go, that you feel more com­fort­able to go this way, then let's go that path,'" he added.

The Palace of­fi­cial also noted how Duterte pointed out the lesser num­ber of deaths among drug sus­pects and PDEA agents as the agency con­ducts drug op­er­a­tions.

"The PDEA for ex­am­ple, he said, has lesser deaths, un­der less­ened death-re­lated op­er­a­tions. So he says if this seems to be more ac­com­mo­dat­ing to the mood of the times, then let's see how it goes," Abella said.

"If the per­cep­tion is that PDEA would be more ac­cept­able in do­ing the cam­paign, wag­ing the cam­paign, then let's see how it goes. That was the ten­ure of the Pres­i­dent's state­ment," he added.

Duterte on Oc­to­ber 10 signed the said mem­o­ran­dum or­der­ing the Philip­pine Na­tional Po­lice (PNP), Armed Forces of the Philip­pines (AFP), Na­tional Bu­reau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion (NBI), Bu­reau of Cus­toms (BOC), and other con­cerned agen­cies to cease from con­duct­ing drug-re­lated op­er­a­tions.

Abella, how­ever, clar­i­fied that Duterte's mem­o­ran­dum was sar­cas­tic and that the Pres­i­dent was act­ing on his emo­tions.

"I'm sure that the Pres­i­dent has al­lowed his full range of emo­tions but he's mak­ing de­ci­sions re­gard­ing that," he said.

"He was backed up by facts and fig­ures, right? He pointed it out. He pointed out. He's very much aware of the facts and fig­ures," he added.

Abella, how­ever, de­nied that the sign­ing of the mem­o­ran­dum was to cover up the mis­deeds of the PNP un­der its Oplan Tokhang.

"I think that's pre­sump­tive to think it's a grace­ful cover up. No, it's sim­ply a re­sponse to a sit­u­a­tion. If it were a busi­ness, it's a cor­po­rate de­ci­sion," he said.

Duterte on Thurs­day ex­pressed that it was sad­den­ing how his crit­ics seem to have cheap­ened the death of govern­ment troops who are wag­ing the cam­paign.

He also said that should some­thing go wrong in the drug op­er­a­tions from now on, the pub­lic should not blame him.

"When some­thing not to your lik­ing is hap­pen­ing, do not look at me. Praise the bleed­ing hearts. Kasi gi­nawa ko na ta­laga la­hat (Be­cause I re­ally did ev­ery­thing that I could)," Duterte said.

Abella also said that the Pres­i­dent trusts that the PDEA can ful­fill its du­ties given the his­tory between Duterte and PDEA Di­rec­tor Gen­eral Aaron Aquino.

"They (Duterte and Aquino) have known each other for 22 years. And so re­gard­ing trust, I imag­ine there is a mod­icum of trust there," he said.

The Palace, how­ever, asked the pub­lic to give PDEA some time to ad­just to its heav­ier re­spon­si­bil­ity.

"Any ma­jor cam­paign would re­quire a pe­riod of ad­just­ment so let's see how it goes," Abella said.

The Pres­i­dent on Thurs­day said he be­lieves the PDEA can ful­fill its man­date, es­pe­cially af­ter the suc­cess­ful op­er­a­tion lead­ing to the ar­rest of Maasim, Sarangani Mayor Aniceto Lopez Jr.

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