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Ochoa: Aquino gov't committed to end threat of illegal drugs

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Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. assured on Monday stakeholders in the campaign to stamp out illegal drugs in the country that President Benigno S. Aquino III’s administration is fully behind their efforts and promised to mobilize all government resources to win the war against narcotics.

Speaking at the 2011 Anti-Illegal Drugs Forum spearheaded by the Justice Sector Coordinating Council (JSSC), Ochoa said President Aquino backs the ongoing initiatives and the implementation of reforms to ensure the success of the anti-illegal drugs campaign.

“The bottom-line… is that all stakeholders have been willing to implement the reforms necessary to ensure that our people obtain justice,” Ochoa said. “In this mission, you can count on the full and whole-hearted support of the President.”

Being a lawyer himself, Ochoa conveyed to forum participants that he knows first-hand the processes involved in the disposition of illegal drugs and related cases. He mentioned that due to clogged court dockets, everyone involved in the campaign – from prosecutors to judges – will have to work overtime to secure convictions and ensure that those involved in drug-related crimes serve time in jail.

The Executive Secretary likewise emphasized that apart from the concerns stemming from the enforcement of anti-illegal drug laws and court hearing, it is also important to come up with a unified and comprehensive database on narcotics.

“Given the sheer volume of cases resulting from the operations of our law enforcement operatives, concrete steps to speed up and expedite the resolution of drug cases will go a long way to sending this strong and clear message to those involved in the drug trade: no one is untouchable, and the fate of those involved in the production, trafficking, and sale of illegal of illegal drugs is capture, conviction, and confinement,” Ochoa pointed out.
The objective of the JSSC, led by the Supreme Court together with the Departments of Justice and the Interior and Local Government, in holding the 2011 Anti-Illegal Drugs Forum is to identify issues, problems and gaps in the enforcement, trial, judgment, execution of penalty/corrections and rehabilitation/prevention in handling illegal drug cases and implementation of reforms.

A Joint Declaration in Support of the Campaign Against Illegal Drugs was also signed at the forum by Chief Justice Renato Corona, Justice Secretary Leila De Lima, Senator Vicente Sotto III and the Executive Secretary.

“This war does not only involve catching drug pushers and choking the supply of illegal drugs. It does not end with shutting down shabu labs nor destroying marijuana plantations. It also involves the rehabilitation of those who have fallen victim to the evil of drugs and the generation of employment opportunities for those provinces who have turned to cannabis farming as means of livelihood,” Ochoa said.

“The successful conviction of drug lords and elimination of drug syndicates remain the greatest deterrents against the production and proliferation of illegal drugs. To do this, we need all three branches of government to work together. We need to study and amend our laws, if necessary; we need to ensure the effective enforcement of the laws we already have; and finally, we need to find ways to speed up the resolution of drug cases in our courts,” he also said.

As chairman of the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC), Ochoa has ordered a stepped-up drive against the proliferation of illegal drugs. Last August, operatives of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) seized P100 million worth of shabu in a buy-bust operation.

Ochoa has also directed the PNP to strengthen security and peacekeeping efforts to effectively deter crimes with the onset of the Christmas season, as well as increase their presence and conduct high-visibility patrols around the country to fight crimes. So far, this effort has resulted in the arrest of smugglers, hijackers, and carnappers.

By PCOO/PIA9-ZBST




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