PDEA: Robredo drug war assessment 'political attack' vs Duterte

Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo

THE Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) dubbed Monday, January 6, Vice President Leni Robredo's assessment of the government's campaign against illegal drugs as a mere political attack against President Rodrigo Duterte.

Robredo, in a press briefing Monday, revealed her recommendations and suggestions on the government's war on drugs, which she said was a "failure" despite all the resources and budget given by the Duterte administration.

In her report, Robredo said that based on data from the PDEA, the drug war has only eradicated about one percent of the total supply of shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) in the country in the last three years.

She also said that there is a need for the government to change its strategy, stressing that instead of going after small-time pushers and users, the government must hunt down drug lords and determine the source of illegal drugs to solve the problem.

PDEA Director Aaron Aquino said Robredo's statement is "saddening."

"Eighteen days as Icad (Inter-Agency Council on Illegal Drugs co-chairman, yet she has dismissed and ignored all of our government’s accomplishments and efforts for the past three years... I see her recommendations as a mere political attack against President Rodrigo Duterte," Aquino said in a statement.

Robredo was appointed by Duterte as Icad co-chairperson in November 2019. She was however fired by the President four days after he said he does not trust her. She served as anti-drugs czar for only 18 days.

“As far as PDEA is concerned, the metrics for the success of the anti-illegal drug campaign is drug clearing, crime index, trust rating and operational accomplishments,” added Aquino.

He cited the over 16,000 barangays that have been cleared from illegal drug menace; the decline of crime incidents from 11,860 in July 2016 to 5,000 in July 2019, as reported by the Philippine National Police (PNP); and the 82 percent satisfaction rating by the Filipinos on war on drugs based on the survey conducted by the Social Weather Station (SWS) on September.

Aquino also noted the trust rating of Duterte, which he called as “the author of the illegal drug war,” that was at its peak at 87 percent last December and the seizure of over P45 billion worth of illegal drugs from 2016 to 2019 from the 162,987 operations with 225,284 arrest of drug personalities.

“Ibig sabihin tama ang ginagawa ng ating National Government. Gusto ng tao ang ginagawa ng Pangulong Duterte sa program kontra illegal na droga. How can she claim it’s a failure?” said Aquino.

“Yes, 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,” he added.

Robredo also said earlier that the Icad failed to perform because it was chaired by the PDEA.

“Nirerekomenda ko na ilipat sa Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) ang chairmanship ng Icad. Ang DDB ang mas may kakayahang magplano ng pangkalahatang mga programa kung saan tutulong ang bawat miyembro ng Icad,” she said.

(I recommend the transfer of the Icad chairmanship to the Dangerous Drugs Board, which has the capability to plan all the programs that the Icad members can help with.)

“Kung sila ang pinuno ng Icad, magiging mas balanse ang kampanya at lahat ng aspeto ay matutugunan... Pag PDEA kasi, law enforcement. ’Yon siguro ’yong isang failure ng Icad, na ’yong chairmanship niya ’binigay niya sa PDEA.... Kung DDB, ang tingin namin, ’yong perspektibo mas malawak, mas strategic ’yong pagplano ng programa,” Robredo added.

(If DDB chairs the Icad, the campaign against illegal drugs will be more balanced and all aspects will be addressed, because if it's PDEA, it's all law enforcement. The perspective would be wider and the planning of programs will be more strategic if DDB chairs it.) (With LMY/SunStar Philippines)