PHILIPPINE Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director Aaron Aquino disagreed with President Rodrigo Duterte's statement that the country’s illegal drug problem has worsened despite the government’s crackdown on drugs.
“Of course, no. Kung makikita mo on our number of (drug surrenderers) number of (drug) seizures. Malaki ang nakukuha natin drugs, worth billions of pesos,” he said in a television interview.
Aquino was referring to the billions of pesos worth of shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) intercepted at the Manila International Container Port (MICP) and in other areas recently.
He said intercepting large amounts of illegal drugs before it made rounds in the streets nationwide is a good indication that the government is winning on its war on drugs.
“Ang tingin ko lang that will be the first impression of the President. Dati narinig ng Presidente, sachet. Next million. Now billion na. Kahit ako nabibigla ako as director general,” he said.
“It is good now (that) we are able to intercept this big volumes of illegal drugs and the good thing we are having a good and open communication with international counterparts,” he added.
In a speech in Davao City over the weekend, Duterte said the illegal drug problem has worsened despite the relentless effort of the government to end it and make the country drug-free.
“But if you tinker with drugs and if you continue to feed our children with drugs and trafficking... Things have worsened. My policemen are on the brink of surrendering,” he said.
“In the end, we will be like Mexico. We will be controlled by drug cartels. The Sinaloa has already entered the country and that is why drugs are being thrown in the Pacific. The same is happening in the West,” he added.
Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesperson Colonel Bernard Banac said the PNP agreed with Duterte's statement.
"Sumasang-ayon tayo sa assessment ng Pangulo na nag-worsen talaga ang drug situation in the sense na ‘yung mga international drug syndicates ay patuloy pa rin niyuyurakan ang ating mga batas, patuloy pa rin sila nagpapasok ng large volume ng illegal drugs,” Banac said.
“This can be seen with the recent recovery at the Manila International Container Port at doon sa buy-bust operation sa Alabang. Napakarami po niyan at maging ‘yung recovery ng cocaine sa eastern seaboard ng bansa,” he added.
Expounding Banac’s statement, PNP Chief Oscar Albayalde said the country’s law enforcement is still challenged by their lack of capabilities and equipment to further boost their war on drugs.
He also cited the lack of death penalty in the country against illegal drug peddlers, which made them unafraid to continue illegal transactions in the country.
But Albayalde said they will not surrender in their crackdown on illegal drugs, stressing Duterte made the statement only out of frustration.
“Parang it’s not actually surrendering na parang ayaw na ng PNP. It's some sort of frustration na bakit despite our effort, ‘yung campaign on anti-illegal drugs sabi nga nya it's relentless deadly and all and still ganun pa rin,” he said.
“Our peace and order is improving. It has improved a lot for the past three years. ‘Yung frustration there is despite of this effort nakikita natin ganyan pa rin volume ng pasok sa drugs sa ating bansa,” he added. (SunStar Philippines)