War on drugs, counter-insurgency? Sara Duterte wants ‘strengthened’ law enforcement

The land is part of Sara Duterte’s biggest promise to continue her father’s programs

MANILA, Philippines — Vice-presidential candidate Davao Mayor Sara Duterte wants to “strengthen” law enforcement in the country as she has promised to “continue reforms” of her administration. father during a campaign speech on Saturday March 12.

“’Yan po ang commitment namin, na ituloy ang program kontra kriminalidad ng administrasyon ni Pangulong Dutertesaid Duterte, addressing multisector groups in the city of Parañaque. Sara Duterte is the daughter of outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte.

(It is our commitment, to continue the anti-crime program of the Duterte administration.)

Engaging with different groups was the first step in Duterte’s campaign in the city, which has 346,078 registered voters for the 2022 election.

During a chance interview with reporters after the event, Duterte was asked if the “continuation” also meant the continuation of his father’s bloody and controversial “war on drugs”, the mayor of Davao did not answered only in vague terms. “Strengthen bansa, ipa-strengthen young law enforcement on bansa – hindi language against drugs, against terrorism, against crime, lahat po yon, anti-insurgency lahat po yon. Dahil ang gusto po ng lahat is maybe not even in Hindi lang po dito sa ating bansa but all over the world,” she said.

(We want to strengthen law enforcement in the country – not just against drugs but against terrorism, against crime, counter-insurgency, all that. It’s because everyone wants a peaceful life, not just here but all over the world.)

Davao’s mayor did not explain what “strengthening” law enforcement programs means, nor were reporters able to ask a follow-up question. Duterte typically only answers between three and five questions at a time when giving random interviews.

It wouldn’t be the first time Duterte has promised “continuity,” and law enforcement programs aren’t the only thing she has promised to continue. At previous campaign events, Duterte had also promised to continue his father’s infrastructure agenda.

The promise of a “safe” Philippines was the cornerstone of President Duterte’s successful 2016 campaign for the presidency. The pitch was perhaps best summed up by the promise to end or suppress illegal drugs in the Philippines within three to six months. This promise, of course, was not kept. Duterte’s war on drugs continued well throughout his presidency – as did the murders.

An International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation looms over the incumbent president over the thousands of deaths – whether in police operations or vigilante killings – in the name of his so-called war on drugs.

Although Sara Duterte did not go into detail about these counter-insurgency measures, the largest and most infamous component of President Duterte’s counter-insurgency program is the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict. (NTF-ELCAC). The task force, established in 2018, is meant to lead the elimination of a decades-long insurgency in the country. He has been criticized for red-flagging, baselessly, critics of the government, both inside and outside of government. The Senate had even decided to cut the task force’s proposed budget for 2022 by 24 billion pesos due to its red flag activities.

Sara Duterte’s running mate, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr, previously expressed his full support for the notorious task force. In a debate hosted by SMNI, whose owner endorsed the Marcos Jr and Duterte tandem, Marcos Jr said he supported NTF-ELCAC but said social issues also needed to be addressed.

The NTF-ELCAC is designed to be a “pan-national” approach to ending the insurgency, so it is a working group. The task force also has a mandate to “provide basic services and social development programs, facilitate societal inclusiveness, and ensure the active participation of all sectors of society in pursuing the peace agenda of the country”. – Rappler.com

About Michael C. Lovelace

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