By VIRGIL LOPEZ, GMA News
Former President Joseph Estrada on Monday warned the Philippines could turn into a "narco-state" if government officials who protect drug syndicates are not removed from their posts.
Estrada, now Manila mayor, said some government officials have been lured by drug money to fund their election campaigns. In exchange, drug traffickers and operators have managed to run their illegal drug trade unhampered.
“You know why there are big drug labs in the provinces? They are protected by these politicians,” Estrada was quoted as saying during the distribution of motorcycles to the first batch of Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) instructors in Manila.
“This is very dangerous, magiging narco-state na tayo ‘pag ‘di natin naagapan ‘to," he added.
Estrada reiterated his support to President Rodrigo Duterte, whose controversial war on drugs has claimed the lives of over 5,000 drug suspects and targeted officials under the drug lords' payroll.
The highest ranking official so far named by Duterte who allegedly received drug money was Sen. Leila de Lima, who was allegedly involved in the drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prison when she was justice secretary during the last administration.
“That is why for the sake of our country, let us unite and support President Duterte for making a great stand against these drug lords,” the mayor said.
During the program, Estrada said the motorycles and cash allowance will help improve the mobility of the DARE instructors in going to and from different public schools.
“We believe our DARE officers will be able to reach out to more students if they have the means to travel to different schools. It has been our topmost priority to teach DARE lessons to our youngsters so they won’t get influenced by illegal drugs at their young age,” he said.
Originally from the US, DARE is a classroom instruction program that taps active duty police officers and soldiers to teach Grades 5 and 6 students good decision-making skills that would keep them away from drugs and other vices.
Estrada serves as chairman of non-profit organization DARE Philippines, Inc. —ALG, GMA News