By Leonel Abasola

President Ferdinand R. Marcos (Photo from BongBong Marcos FB page)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Tuesday tasked the members of the national and regional peace and order councils to address cases of political violence as well as those stemming from the illegal drug trade, which he said are today’s two biggest concerns threatening peace and order in the country.

Addressing the 1st Joint National Peace and Order Council and Regional Peace and Order Council Meeting 2023 in Malacañang, Marcos said the event is timely as his government confronts the increasing violent activities, particularly after last year’s election.

“They happened just after the election and they just… halos sunod-sunod. Kaya’t naging very prominent sa pag-iisip ng taong-bayan na masyado na talagang naging malala ito (almost consecutively. So it became very prominent in the minds of the people that it had really become too bad),” he told the meeting participants.

“And of course, that is true because even one is too much. But nonetheless, in terms of the political violence, I think, I hope, and we must continue to look out for, and watch out for this is that the experience that we have been having,” the chief executive pointed out.

The peace and order councils must also focus on addressing the proliferation of illegal or loose firearms that fuel violence in the country, he said, as he also warned about the rise of warlordism.

The other overwhelming problem confronting the country today when it comes to peace and order is violence perpetrated by drug syndicates quarreling over territory with the involvement of some members of the police force, he said.

“It stems from the territorial fights over areas where drugs are distributed, who controls the drug trade in that area. Kung minsan naririnig natin, mayroong talagang scalawag diyan (Sometimes, we heard that there are really scalawags),” he said. “So kailangan talaga natin bantayan nang mabuti (So, we really need to watch carefully), have to that these activities that are growing have to be dismantled.”

The 1st Joint NPOC and RPOC Clusters’ Meeting was organized to provide updates on the peace and order issues in the country and to aid policy decisions as well as facilitate immediate action from concerned agencies.

Among the 2016-2022 accomplishments include the successful conduct of surveillance and intelligence operations by the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA), anti-insurgency and anti-terrorism efforts, anti-illegal drugs campaign and effective Covid-19 response.

Through the anti-insurgency and anti-terrorism efforts, coupled with the revitalized National Task Force on Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), the government disbanded 67 guerilla fronts, neutralized 8,645 Communist Terrorist Groups (CTG), and facilitated the surrender of 28,713 rebel members.

In the fight against illegal drugs, the government reported a total of 261,642 anti-illegal drug operations conducted from 2016 to 2022, which resulted in the arrest of 376,582 drug personalities and the seizure of 12 tons of marijuana, 14 tons of shabu, 190,324 pieces of ecstasy and 500 kilograms of cocaine.

With regard to the overall peace and order situation, the government reported that the total crime volume in 2022 decreased by 11.87 percent, from 235,059 in 2021 to 207,143.

Crime solution and crime clearance efficiency by the end of 2022 were at 82.28 percent and 96.72 percent, respectively, it said. (PNA)