Lacson to Duterte: Enough of drug war, focus on economy

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson called on President Rodrigo Duterte to stop focusing on his drug war and concentrate on addressing the country's economic problems instead.

Lacson said the anti-drug campaign should now be left to the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

"Mechanical na 'yung anti-drug campaign, kaya na ng pulis 'yun, kaya na ng PDEA. Maliwanag naman ang kanyang marching orders, 'di na kailangan pang ulit-ulitin pa," Lacson, a former PNP chief, told reporters on Monday, September 3.

(The anti-drug campaign is already mechanical. The police and PDEA can do it. The President's marching orders are already clear and don't have to be repeated all the time.)

For Lacson, Duterte should instead focus on the economy amid the rising prices of basic commodities.

"Ang hinaharap, mas malaking problema – economy. Kasi 'yung ating inflation rate pumalo na nitong August na 5.9% (projected). Ang projection [ay] hahataw mahigit 6% pagdating ng September, October. So dapat medyo mag-refocus naman na. Ang kalampagin naman niya economic managers, 'di yung naka-focus lagi na lang sa illegal drugs tsaka related issues," Lacson said.

(What we are facing now is a bigger problem – the economy. Our inflation rate is projected to reach 5.9% in August. The projection is it will reach 6% come September and October. So he should now refocus. He should order his economic managers to act and not just focus on illegal drugs and related issues.)

Zamboanga City and Basilan earlier declared a state of calamity due to rice woes. Rice prices in these two areas reached as high as P70 per kilo, while a kilo of rice in Tawi-Tawi reached as high as P100 after Eid'l Fitr. (READ: Taming rice prices: What lawmakers, experts say)

Before leaving for Israel on Sunday, September 2, Duterte said he wants the government to import rice and sell it at a cheap price that would not yield profit.

"Maybe we can import and lose. Import natin, ipagbili natin at a price na malulugi tayo (Let's import and sell it at a price that won't let us earn).... We'll peg at a price that the Filipino can afford.... At least meron tayong benchmark kung magkano, kung maubos ang pera natin (At least we'll have a benchmark of how much, if we lose our money)," he said.

On Monday, the Department of Finance (DOF) projected inflation would reach 5.9% for August. (READ: Who's to blame for soaring inflation? 'All of them' in gov't, says economist)

Alcoholic beverages and tobacco (21.5%) and electricity, gas, and other fuels (11.5%) are estimated to jump the highest among major commodities.

The DOF also projected food and non-alcoholic beverages to jump by 7%, while education was seen to have a slowdown of -3.9%.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas also estimated August inflation to hit 5.9%, with a range of 5.5% to 6.2%. – Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com

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