PNP, PDEA focus on reforming drug users in anti-drug war 'finale'

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 5) – The "finale" of the Duterte administration's anti-drug war focuses more on providing help and reforming drug users, according to Philippine National Police Chief PGen. Dionardo Carlos.

"Ang binabago natin dito ay ‘yung ating pag-aalaga doon sa mas nakararami nating mga kababayan na nabiktima ng droga na dapat naman nating abutin at ibigay ang tulong ng gobyerno," Carlos told The Generals 2.0, a CNN Philippines special presentation hosted by chief correspondent and anchor Pia Hontiveros.

[Translation: What we are changing in the program is giving more focus on taking care of our countrymen victimized by illegal drugs, to whom the government should reach out and give help.]

Carlos said the anti-drug initiative, which he named Oplan Double Barrel Finale Version 2022, also aims to steer citizens away from the illegal substances.

The newly appointed PNP chief said their tweaked approach in dealing with illegal drug users is in stark contrast with previous anti-drug campaigns which resulted in the loss of innocent lives.

"Binabalanse namin ni Wilkins (Villanueva) pagkat ‘yung aming fight sa supply side tuloy-tuloy, kahit nga ‘yung international cooperation ng PDEA," explained Carlos.

[Translation: Wilkins (Villanueva) and I are balancing things, because our fight against the supply side continues, together with the international cooperation of PDEA.]

Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Wilkins Villanueva emphasized the importance of cutting the supply of illegal drugs into the country. He took pride on the agency’s latest achievements, including the seizure of 1.7 tons of shabu worth ₱11.6 billion and foiling the entry of 400 kilos more.

"What we should prevent is the use of drugs, the demand side of drug problem," said Villanueva. "Kapag wala ka nang demand, kahit batuhin tayo nang batuhin ng droga sa kalye, wala nang bibili [If there’s no demand, even if they repeatedly throw us illegal drugs in the streets, no one will buy them anymore)."

The PDEA head said the agency is also involved in the reformation, rehabilitation, and reintegration of drug users.

Over 6,000 people were killed and about 298,000 more were arrested during the campaign, the centerpiece anti-drug program of the national government since President Rodrigo Duterte rose to power in 2016.