Roque says Duterte needs more time to win fight vs narco-politics

CAMARINES SUR, Philippines – Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said President Rodrigo Duterte needs more time to win in his fight against narco-politics in the country. 

"[In a] scale of 10, the President is only at 6 in his fight against narco-politics. He needs more time to win to reach the scale of 10," he told Rappler in an interview at Camarines Sur Polytechnic College in Nabua town.

Roque said that the influence of people involved in narco-politics is "persuasive," as they are using money for the upcoming barangay (village) elections. 

"Their influence is even persuasive because of their money, that's why we have to buckle up. The fight is far from over, and I would say that because we are on the advantage stage of the war, they will fight back using all the resources that they have," he said.

He added: "He's aiming to step down in 2022, that's why we need to support the President at this point."

Roque was in Camarines Sur on Monday, March 19, as guest speaker at the awarding ceremony of Ako Bicol's Ten Outstanding Students of Bicol.

The President hopes that narco-politicians will not be elected in the upcoming polls.

Earlier, Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa said the Philippines was heading toward a doomsday scenario without a stronger war on drugs.

He said many of the country's politicians won in past elections due to drug money from drug lords.

Barangay anti-drug abuse council

In Bicol, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) reported that at least 547 out of 3,471 barangays are considered drug-affected villages..

But according to Elouisa Pastor, DILG regional director in Bicol, these 547 affected barangays are still considered as "manageable."

Meanwhile, at least 51 barangays from the provinces of Albay, Catanduanes, Camarines Sur, and Camarines Norte are considered as "drug-cleared" areas.

DILG statistics also showed that out of the 3,471 barangays, 2,833 (82%) have already set-up their Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Council (BADAC), while 638 (18%) have failed to do so. 

Pastor said 638 barangay captains would be charged administratively with simple to gross negligence for their failure to organize a BADAC in their respective areas

The BADAC is in charge of organizing and submitting a monthly report of activities, as well as updating the barangay's drug watchlist.

Pastor said they don't see any reason why some barangays can't organize a BADAC when it is part of their mandate as barangay officials.

But Pastor admitted that some BADAC members fear for their safety due to possible retaliation from illegal drug syndicates, or groups being tagged as coddlers or in cahoots with illegal drug personalities.

Some BADACs are also hampered with operational and organizational issues, such as failure to submit their regular report and the barangay's drug watch list.

The top provinces in Bicol with fully organized BADACs are Albay, followed by Camarines Norte. Catanduanes has 91% of its BADACs organized, followed by Camarines Sur (86%), Masbate (52%), and Sorsogon (38%). – Rappler.com