THE Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and the Philippine National Police leadership have defended the government’s war on drugs amid Vice President Ma. Leni Robredo’s claim that it has failed miserably and thus should be stopped.
“Sa amin sa PDEA, hindi namin kino-consider itong isang failure, in fact, kino-consider namin itong isang solution. Makikita naman majority of the Filipinos ay satisfied sa war on drugs ng gobyerno,” said PDEA chair, Director General Aaron N. Aquino citing the recent Social Weather Stations survey which showed majority of the public fully appreciating President Duterte’s war on drugs and giving him an ‘excellent’ grade for the matter.
According to Aquino, the campaign resulted in the seizure of some P36-billion worth of illegal drugs, arrest of almost 200,000 suspects, and drug-free status of 15,000 barangays in two years and four months of its conduct.
“Kapag itinigil ang kampanya laban sa iligal na droga, mamamayagpag na naman lahat ng mga drug lord, lahat ng mga drug pusher, mga user dito sa atin. Sayang naman yung pinasimulan natin. Ang laki na ng accomplishments natin, bakit ngayon pa ihihinto,?” the retired police general said.
Vice-President Robredo lamented that the drug war targeted mostly poor people and not the so-called ‘big fishes.’
However, Aquino disputed such claim and said they have arrested and jailed many ‘high value targets’ including members of international drug rings, specifically Chinese nationals during the past three years of the massive campaign.
“Nitong first eight months (of 2019), naka P7.6 billion na tayo ng illegal drugs. Karamihan ng nahuli natin ay foreigners. Kapag nakakuha tayo ng mga international drug syndicate, we are considering them as drug lords already. Hindi lang nakikita ng taongbayan natin kung sino yung nahuhuli natin,” the PDEA chief explained.
Since 2017, 63 armed suspects have been killed in clashes with PDEA officers who tried to arrest them in buy-bust operations and anti-drug searches.
“Within 2 years, 63 ang napatay sa aming mga operation. Nagsagawa kami ng imbestigasyon sa lahat ng ito para malaman kung may defect o lapses,” he said.
Last week, two policemen were killed in gunbattles with heavily-armed drug dealers in Rizal and Bulacan provinces.
The PNP leadership headed by Lieutenant General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa also said that the continuous drop in the country’s crime rate indicates that the government’s campaign against illegal drugs is successful.
From July 1, 2016 to last July 31, the PNP has conducted a total of 163,622 anti-illegal drugs operations resulting in the arrest of more than 256,000 drug personalities, the death of more than 6,000 in police operations, and the surrender of more than 1,200,000 under Oplan Tokhang.
The PNP said that their operation against so-called ‘HVT’s resulted in the arrest of 3,133, the surrender of 3,705 and the death of 325 in police operations.
From more than 626,000 from July 2015 to June 2016, the total crime volume decreased by 58,276 or 9.30 percent during the first year of President Duterte’s term covering the period July 2016 to June 2017, the PNP added.
This further decreased by 79,647 incidents or 14.02 percent on the second year covering the period July 2017 to June 2018, and further went down by 2.91 percent on the third year covering the period July 2018 to June 2019.
Furthermore, out of the country’s 42,045 barangays, more than 13,000 have been declared drug-free since 2016.
Gen. Gamboa said that the PNP remains relentless in its campaign to wipe out illegal drugs and in particular, going after the ‘big fishes’ or ‘HVTs.’
The PNP leadership also had welcomed a very recent survey ranking the Philippines as the 24th best place to live and work, just behind the United States, which ranked as 23rd, and ahead of China, which ranked the 26th.
PNP spokesman, Brigadier General Bernard M. Banac said that the survey shows that the government’s strong and relentless peace and order campaign significantly contributed to creating a secure environment across the nation where Filipinos and even foreigners feel safe to work, live and do business.
Banac said that from July 2016 to date, police have already accounted for at least 1.5 million drug users as a result of its war on drugs.
The 1.5 million drug users were accounted as a result of the PNP Oplan: Tokhang or ‘knock and plea’ campaign which prompted the drug dependents to yield and avail of government reformatory programs.