Update (Originally posted 3:11 p.m.)
Senator Bam Aquino on Tuesday slammed the dismissal of illegal drugs charges against Cebu businessman and self-confessed drug trafficker Kerwin Espinosa as proof that the war on drugs only targets the poor.
In a resolution dated on Dec. 20, 2017, the Department of Justice (DOJ) dismissed the cases filed against Lim, Espinosa, and 20 others.
“Sa pagpapalaya ng mga nahuling drug lord, klaro na ang tokhang ay para lamang sa mga mahihirap na Pilipino at hindi para sa may pera at koneksiyon,” Aquino said in a statement.
“Ang hustisya sa bayan ay tila para sa iilan lamang at hindi para sa bawat Pilipino,” he added.
The senator also questioned the value of the ongoing war on drugs if the alleged sources of drugs are set free.
“Ano pa ang halaga ng pagpatay sa libu-libo nating kababayan, kung pakakawalan din lang ang mismong pinagmumulan ng droga?” Aquino said.
Last January, the government revived its “Oplan Tokhang” campaign against illegal drugs after it was suspended following criticism over the high number of alleged drug personalities killed in police operations.
Rich and poor are equal targets
Duterte had said that he could not spare the poor from his anti-illegal drugs campaign because that would be a form of selective justice and against the law.
Thousands of people, most of them in impoverished communities, have been killed since Mr. Duterte launched his war on drugs after taking office in 2016. Human rights groups blamed the police for deliberately killing drug suspects during antidrug operations.
“So if you are poor, I cannot do anything and say, ‘I will not arrest you, I will not kill you because you are poor’ — that would be selective justice,” the President said in a speech on Friday night at the 60th birthday celebration of Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez here.
The President said he had been accused of targeting just the poor. “And worse, they say, ‘Duterte only kills the poor,’” he lamented.
But he said the law was very clear. “I cannot say that this law is only for the rich but not for the poor,” he said.
Justifying the inclusion of the poor among targets in the war on drugs, Mr. Duterte said “[t]he act of one is the act of all because it is a conspiracy. That is the law.”
“And my oath of office says that I have to enforce the law against everybody who violates the law,” he added.
All those involved in the drugs trade should be held accountable and “the law says that the one who cooks, the one who distributes and the one who peddles the drugs are equally—equally—guilty,” he said.
Mr. Duterte said one reason the poor were targets in the drug war was because “shabu” (crystal meth) was “a merchandise for the poor.”
“Those in Forbes Park, in Dasmariñas [Village]—they do not do it with shabu. They do it with cocaine and heroin,” he said. /muf/ac
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