PNP chief Ronald de la Rosa said there would only be a suspension, a “pause,” in the war on illegal drugs. And what precisely will that involve?

Earlier, on Jan. 29, President Duterte again extended his self-imposed deadline to rid the country of illegal drugs and other crimes: the original three-to-six months, expanded to one year, and now to fill his entire six-year term.

Experience

But then we should’ve known better. Five years ago, presidents of Mexico, Colombia and Guatemala wrote the United Nations about their frustration over the unending cycle of crime, violence, and corruption caused by illegal drugs, with the rise in drug abuse never slowed down. They used bloodbath and they failed.

No specifics on what the PNP chief’s “pause” consists of. Suspend police operations but continue to “neutralize” drug suspects? A concession to public uproar over police corruption but not to the appeal of many sectors, here and abroad, to end the impunity and prosecute the culprits?

‘Kill’ part

Apparently, the “drug war” program was ready only for the “kill” part. It didn’t consider the state of the police that was to wage the war, a force the U.S. state department called “the most abusive” among our law enforcers and Duterte said was 40% corrupt.

The most-publicized assault on illegal drugs was prepared only for unleashing violence but not the “collateral damage” damage it inflicts.

It didn’t consider, maybe in the rush of meeting the original deadline, whether the bloodbath would work-- and up to how many lives, including innocent ones, would the nation accept as necessary casualties, along with the havoc on its institutions and values.

No let-up

Lets benefit from the “pause” by reviewing strategies and including the other crucial components, such as cracking down on corrupt police, prosecutors and judges, overhauling the justice system, and providing adequate rehab centers and intensifying preventive measures against addiction.

Stop the executions but don’t let up in the lawful, due-process-driven campaign.