By Genalyn Kabiling
The Philippine government has given the United Nations (UN) an update about the war on drugs in the past three years, saying 5,489 persons, and not 27,000, were killed while more than 1.3 million have surrendered to authorities.
In a recent presentation to the UN office in Geneva, Switzerland, Presidential Communications Assistant Secretary Marie Rafael said the government’s campaign against illegal drugs has been “full of challenges” but such efforts have been “so politicized that even our achievements have been used against us.”
The PCOO official presented the country’s report on “Human Rights Accountability Mechanisms in the Philippines” before diplomats at the Palace of Nations, the UN headquarters in Geneva last Friday.
“I would like to emphasize in the clearest possible terms the alleged 27,000 killings that has received a lot of international misunderstandings and misinformation,” she said in a press statement released by the Palace. “These homicide cases may have resulted out of road rage, land dispute, personal grudge, business rivalry, love triangle, family dispute or politics,” she said.
Since July 2016, Rafael informed the UN that 132,152 anti-illegal drugs operations have been conducted by the government.
The anti-drug campaign has “yielded 190,002 arrests, and 5,489 deaths — including high-value targets, and even government workers,” a Palace press statement read. Some drug-related deaths were reportedly committed by “vigilantes.”
At least 1,308,078 drug users have also surrendered to the government and expressed willingness to undergo rehabilitation program since 2016.
Law enforcement agencies have seized a total of $667 million of methamphetamine and $498.96 million worth of controlled precursors and essential chemicals and laboratory equipment, according to Rafael.
She has attributed the government’s strides in the anti-drug crackdown to its “unwavering thrust to fight illegal drugs.”
“It must be underscored that the Philippines has working mechanisms and domestic processes including in the law enforcement sectors and inter-agency mechanism,” Rafael told the diplomats.
“Our data here shows significant progress in so far as our rehabilitation efforts,” she added, citing the government’s partnership with non-government organizations and religious groups in helping with the rehabilitation of drug dependents.
Rafael also sought cooperation from UN as the government aims to provide a safe and better future for Filipinos.
She said the country has always been “supportive of approaches that enhance constructive cooperation as opposed to hostile and politicized actions that are counter-productive and have unclear outcomes.”
“We now seek that same cooperation from this body, as we trust that empathy is much needed as we move forward and build a better future for our Filipino children,” she said.