Editorial: Figures don’t lie

PRESIDENTIAL Spokesperson Salvador Panelo reacts to Vice President Leni Robredo’s report on the drug war: “It’s the experts that should give us recommendations...Just because you were there for two weeks, does not mean you’re an expert already.”

Well, his suggestion falls parallel to one of Robredo’s recommendations, which is to let the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) take the helm of the Inter-agency Committee Against Illegal Drugs (Icad). It was the agency that was traditionally on top of strategizing the campaign against illegal drugs since the creation of the Dangerous Drugs Act in 1972. It was in 2002 when the board membership was expanded via Republic Act 9165 or the “Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.” It then included into the board the Department of the Interior and Local Government, Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Foreign Affairs, Commission on Higher Education, National Youth Commission. One must take note that it was also during this time that the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) came aboard.

The DDB made significant strides in the fight against illegal drugs as figures showed. Since the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, the number of drug users declined to 6.7 million in 2004 to 1.3 million in 2012. We don’t know what dreams came that the PDEA projected four million drug users in 2019.

Panelo simply can’t react to Robredo’s report by calling it a dud. Even without the Vice President’s report, there are glaring figures that say the government’s drug war efforts in the last three years hasn’t really been as effective.

Admittedly, the Philippine National Police’s efforts in internal cleansing may have paved the way for improvements in the enforcement aspect of the anti-illegal drugs campaign, but the facts stare back at you that despite the bloody Gestalt that arose from all the street killings of drug users, the supply side remain persistent.

The cold numbers in Robredo’s report is worth noting. The PNP Drug Enforcement Group data showed that drug addicts consume about 156,000 kilos of metaphenamine hydrochloride or “shabu” every year. The PNP said this is estimated to be worth P1.3 trillion a year.

The PDEA, in its 2019 report, said it was able to confiscate 1,344 kilos of shabu from January to October. The agency recovered 785 kilos in 2018 and 1,053 kilos in 2017.

Robredo said authorities were only able to seize one percent of the total supply of illegal drugs in the country.

If it hurts the administration to dignify Robredo’s report, it can at least respond with a bit of transparency and dish out real figures in the drug war.