By Chito Chavez
Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director-General Aaron Aquino on Monday said Vice President Leni Robredo’s report that the government failed miserably in its illegal drug war is untrue and simply a direct attack against President Rodrigo Duterte.
Expressing deep sadness over Robredo’s statement, Aquino questioned her failure to recognize the government’s anti-illegal drug efforts and accomplishments in the past three years, and added he is puzzled how Robredo dismissed outright the government’s performance considering her 18-day stint as Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-illegal Drugs (ICAD) co-chairman last November.
As far as PDEA is concerned, Aquino said the metrics for the success of the anti-illegal drug campaign are drug clearing, crime index, trust rating, and operational accomplishments.
Aquino said PDEA has cleared 16,706 out of 33,881 barangays of illegal drugs (49.13 percent).
He added that nationwide crime incidents declined from 11,860 in July 2016 to 5,000 in July 2019 as reported by the Philippine National Police (PNP).
To further reject Robredo’s claim, Aquino said 82 percent of Filipinos are satisfied with the war against illegal drugs as revealed in the findings of the Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey last September 2019.
“The trust rating of President Duterte, the author of the illegal drug war, is at its peak at 87 percent last December,” Aquino said.
He also said PDEA has seized P45 billion worth of illegal drugs from 225,284 arrests in 162,987 operations conducted from 2016 to 2019.
“Ibig sabihin tama ang ginagawa ng ating national government. Gusto ng tao ang ginagawa ng Pangulong Duterte sa program kontra illegal na droga (This means the government is on the right track. The people like what President Duterte is doing in the government’s campaign against illegal drugs),” he added. “How can she claim it’s a failure?”
However, Aquino admitted “there are still shortcomings and flaws to the illegal drug programs particularly on rehabilitation but that is what ICAD is addressing now as one working committee.”
As for her statement that “kalat ang datos (the data are not in order),” Aquino explained the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) has completed its survey and is now in the final phase of data gathering to once and for all update the data on drug users and pushers.
“We reported that to the VP. However, I told her that it is very difficult to gather the real data since nobody will admit that he/she is a user or pusher. That is the same situation in other countries,” Aquino said.
Early Monday, Robredo insisted the Duterte administration’s war on illegal drugs is a failure, with shabu (crystal methamphetamine) supply and drug money reduced by only one percent over the last three years.
Robredo based her 40-page report on PDEA and PNP records, among others.
She noted that while PNP estimated that 3,000 kilograms of shabu worth P25 billion were consumed per week, PDEA was only able to seize 1,344.87 kilograms in 2019, which is a minute figure even if it was an improvement from 2017 and 2018 figures.
Comparing it to an examination, Robredo chided PDEA for getting a very low mark of one over 100 items.