FOCUS on helping earthquake victims instead of hurling attacks on President Rodrigo Duterte's anti-drug campaign, Malacañang told Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David on Wednesday, April 24.
"How saddening that a man of the cloak like Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, instead of focusing his attention to the spiritual needs of his flock as well as helping in the rehabilitation of those affected by the earthquake, has opted to unleash a cynical view if not an outright misrepresentation of the President’s war on drugs," Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.
He issued the remark after David described as the "biggest lie" the claim that Duterte's drug war is meant to stop the proliferation of narcotics in the country.
David, vice president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines, is one of the most vocal critics of Duterte's crackdown on illegal drugs.
Panelo said David should instead heed the advice of Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle to "just give succor to those affected by the recent earthquake instead of resorting to negative rhetoric against the government.”
"While it is true that we live in a free and democratic country, where the contradicting even vicious opinion of a minority is given equal, if not more, space to be heard, there is, however, a time for reflection, introspection, quietude and the extending of hands to help the needy in times of tragedy and crisis. This is one such time," Panelo said.
He said the Caloocan bishop is entitled to his own opinion, but emphasized that "facts" about Duterte's successful drug war cannot be altered by a "biased" opinion.
"The facts on how the President addresses the problem of illegal narcotics remain exemplary as they are daring, even as they are relentless. It is only under this Administration where the real situation on illicit drugs in the country has been exposed in all its ugliness and terrifying magnitude," he said.
"Its poisonous tentacles are continuously being cut by the government and its forces wherever they are found and however they are protected by the merchants of death," Panelo added.
To prove that the drug war is a success, Panelo noted that from the start of Duterte's administration jn July 2016 until November 2018, a total of 164,265 drug personalities have been arrested, 9,503 barangays were cleared from drugs, and P25.19 billion worth of drugs and equipment were seized.
He said the figures are "real numbers and unalterable facts that can not be erased even by the magical wand of Bishop David.”
Panelo also cited the Social Weather Stations December 2018 survey, which showed that more than six out of 10, or 66 percent, of Filipinos are convinced that the number of illegal drug users in their area has decreased.
"The voice of satisfaction of the great majority of Filipinos with the drug war has been consistently resounding," Duterte's spokesman said.
"We therefore suggest to Bishop David to go down from the pulpit and listen to the resounding collective voice of his parishioners that he may find their true and genuine sentiments," he added. (SunStar Philippines)