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Dela Rosa to critics: Give suggestions instead of criticism

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government may be having a hard time coping with the sheer number of drug users and pushers turning themselves in, but it shouldn't be a reason for police to slow down anti-illegal drugs efforts.

"While we in government admit that we're lacking [in terms of rehabilitation], what do you expect us to do? Will we stop the police from [Oplan] TokHang? We will stop people from implementing Project Double Barrel? We already have headway. The momentum is ours. Do we stop simply because of the criticism?" said Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa on Monday, September 26, during a press conference in Camp Crame. 

Dela Rosa was asked what President Rodrigo Duterte's Cabinet had discussed in order to address the apparent shortage of rehabilitation programs and facilities to accommodate over 700,000 drug users and pushers who have turned themselves in as a result of Oplan TokHang.

TokHang, a mix of the Bisaya words "toktok" (to knock) and "hangyo" (to plead), is an operation where cops visit the houses of suspected drug users and pushers and ask them to change their ways.

Given the shortage of government rehabilitation facilities, the Philippines has had to come up with "alternative" ways to deal with those who have surrendered.

For instance, in some areas, it's barangay (village) officials who monitor surrendered users and pushers to make sure they remain clean. 

"We admit that we're having a hard time. At the level of the Cabinet, we've already talked about how to address that backlog. In fact, we have a lot of well-meaning friends from the private sector who are giving funds to build rehabilitation centers but this is long-term. You can't build a building in 2 or 3 months. It takes years," Dela Rosa said.

Duterte had earlier announced plans to use military facilities to house former drug users.

WATCH: Dela Rosa tells critics -- help us instead of just criticizing. #WarOnDrugs pic.twitter.com/otbpyPxHRk — Bea Cupin (@beacupin) September 26, 2016

 

The supposed lack of clear plans for drug users who need rehabilitation is among the criticism that the PNP and the Philippine government have had to face since the "war on drugs" officially began on July 1.

Critics have also hit the PNP for supposedly disregarding human rights and the rule of law, given the high toll of deaths related to drugs. 

As of September 26, police have killed over 1,200 drug suspects in operations around the country while more than 19,000 drug personalities have been arrested. At least 13 of the PNP's own personnel have been killed during their operations. 

Allegations of extrajudicial killings at the hands of cops is something both Duterte and Dela Rosa have denied. Almost all suspects killed in operations, Dela Rosa had argued, are those who "fought back (nanlaban)," making deadly force necessary. 

"What do you want us to do? Please help us. Instead of criticizing the government, those critics should think of a good solution. Don't just criticize us for making people surrender and not having enough facilities to rehabilitate. What do you want us to do? Cry? Give up? And what will happen? Crime will go up again? More people will get raped. More people will die. And most importantly, the rich drug lords will be happy because their business will resume," the PNP chief said. 

"So to the Filipinos who criticize us, maybe help us instead of criticizing. We're all Filipinos who want a good community that's safe for all. We admit that we're lacking in rehabilitation facilities but what do you want us to do? Just stop? It's impossible for us to stop. Nobody can stop us," he added. 

Police and other law enforcement agencies initially had 6 months to finish the war on drugs but Duterte has since extended the deadline by 6 more months. (READ: Dela Rosa thankful for 'war on drugs' extension– Rappler.com