Drug war not a ‘failure,’ Palace says

Published March 8, 2021, 4:08 PM

by Argyll Cyrus Geducos

Malacañang came to the defense of President Duterte’s war against illegal drugs, saying the bloody program is not a “failure” as it has brought about the declaration of many barangays as being drug-free.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque made the statement after Senator Panfilo Lacson said the government “really failed” in the drug war because drugs are still proliferating in the country.

In his Monday presser, Roque said that the drug war was not a failure because the program cleared half of the country’s barangays off illegal drugs.

“Mahigit kalahati na po ng ating mga barangays ay drug-free. Sa akin po, hindi po ‘yan failure. ‘Yan po ay malaking tagumpay (More than half of the country’s barangays are now drug-free. For me, that is not a failure. That is a huge success),” he said.

According to Roque, the administration still has enough time to rid the entire country of illegal drugs.

“Ang ninanais natin 100-percent drug-free pero meron pa naman tayong isang taon at ilan pang buwan para makamit ang ganyang objective (We want the entire Philippines to be 100-percent drug-free. We have a year and some months left to achieve that objective),” he said.

President Duterte had promised to solve the country’s drug problem in three to six months. He, however, later on, admitted that he underestimated the problem and vowed that his drug war be carried out until the last day of his term.

The government’s #RealNumbersPH programs said that 21,037 of the 42,045 barangays in the entire country are drug-free as of January 31, 2021.

President Duterte’s drug war has been marred with controversy, particularly by allegations of state-sponsored killings and human rights violations. The President has denied that the government had a hand in the so-called extrajudicial killings (EJKs) in his drug war.

Last week, United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet expressed concern about the “continued high number of killings” ascribed to the Philippine National Police (PNP).

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevara revealed last week that an inter-agency panel found that the police did not follow protocols in at least half of the anti-drug operations that the panel reviewed.

Data from the PNP showed that at least 6,039 suspected drug personalities had been killed in operations as of January 30, 2021.