DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 01 July) — Authorities seized a total of P82.52 billion worth of illegal drugs during the first year of the Duterte administration compared to P4.8 billion seized during the last year of the Aquino administration, Director General Isidro Lapeña of the The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) said Fridaty at the Mindanao Hour Press Briefing here.
Lapeña made a comparison on the achievements between the Duterte administration’s war on drugs on its first year and the last year of the previous administration.
Of the total drugs seized, the PDEA chief said police confiscated 2,446 kilos of shabu valued at P12.62 billion compared to 820 kilos valued at P940 million seized during the last year of President Benigno Simeon Aquino’s term.
Lapeña attributed the increase in confiscations to the intensified anti-drug campaign of the current President who vowed to address the drug problem of the country “in three to six months” during the campaign for the May 2016 Presidential elections.
Duterte in September extended his self-imposed deadline to another six months and later said the campaign would go on until the last day of his term. Duterte’s term ends on June 30, 2022.
As of June 28, Lapeña said the drug war resulted in 64,397 police operations which nearly doubled from 36,466 operations of the previous President’s last year in office.
Lapeña said authorities recorded over 1.3 million drug addicts surrendered and arrested 86,984 drug suspects and 302 government workers involved in illegal drugs.
He said the authorities discovered nine clandestine laboratories, including two mega shabu laboratories, and dismantled 152 drug dens.
Lapeña reported 57 policemen were killed and 150 were wounded during operations.
Despite criticisms from different human rights organizations here and abroad, the PDEA chief said they will continue the Duterte administration’s drug war, noting that at least 48 percent, or equivalent to 20,126 barangays out of the total 42,036 barangays in the country have been affected by drugs.
He said National Capital Region (NCR) has the highest drug affectation at 97 percent of its barangays but they have cleared 3,677 barangays of drugs in the region.
“Of course these are the figures, what we want to do is to be able to accomplish these figures… translated into something our people will feel in the grassroots. We have shifted to barangay clearing program because this is where the drug problem thrives,” he said.
He also pointed out that the government’s law enforcement agencies are trying to address the demand side of the drug menace.
He said Duterte administration’s Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs has created a four-cluster approach in dealing with the drug problem – enforcement, justice, advocacy, and rehabilitation and integration.
He said this is a better approach because it will deal with drug problem on all fronts, from supply to demand side.
He said the cluster on rehabilitation and reintegration will be handled by the Department of Health and Department of Social Welfare and Development where they are treated and trained on new skills “so that they can be provided with jobs, become productive citizens of the society and join the mainstream society.”
He said the advocacy will be handled by the Department of Interior and Local Government, Philippine Information Agency, and Department of Education to reach out to the vulnerable sectors in the communities like the youth in schools and barangays. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)