MORE government officials on Tuesday, January 7, slammed the report of Vice President Maria Leonor "Leni" Robredo that the administration’s crackdown on illegal drugs is a “massive failure.”
“With all due respect, I beg to disagree with the public relations bombshell of VP Robredo on the national anti-drug campaign as a 'massive failure'. Whether her numbers are merely an estimate or the exact value, in any case, the figure derived is totally wrong,” said Philippine National Police (PNP) officer-in-charge Lieutenant General Archie Gamboa.
He made the statement after Robredo released her report on her co-chairmanship of the Inter-Agency Council on Anti-Drugs (ICAD) for 18 days.
The report said the war on drugs, which was launched by President Rodrigo Duterte as soon as he assumed office in 2016, was a failure and that only 1.0 percent of drug supply and money coming from the illegal drugs transactions have been seized in the past three years.
Gamboa pointed out that they had demolished 14 clandestine laboratories and 419 drug dens.
“These 14 demolished clandestine laboratories could not be the 1.0 percent cited by VP Robredo, but perhaps represent 100 percent success rate because there is no more local production of methamphetamine products in the country,” he said.
He said an estimated 5.1 tons of methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu), 2.2 tons of marijuana, 500 kilograms of cocaine and 42,473 pieces of ecstacy pills, all estimated by Dangerous Drugs Board to be worth P40.39 billion, had been taken off the streets.
He also noted the conduct of a total of 151,601 separate anti-drug operations which resulted in the arrest of 220,728 drug law violators, including 8,185 high-value targets and the death of 5,552 drug personalities.
He said all the said operations led to the clearing of 16,706 drug-affected barangays in different localities.
On the soft-hand approach to the drug problem, Gamboa said 421,724 drug dependent patients were rehabilitated under the PNP-initiated and supported community centers recovery and wellness programs.
"But all these did not come without a price. Fifty-five police officers had to put their lives on the line in this battle against drugs. It would be the height of disrespect to say that they died a useless death because they failed to stop the drug problem,” he said.
“The drug problem is a clandestine operation that cannot be precisely audited by authorities, rather it can only make estimates based on results of operations. Not even the US DEA was able to accurately quantify the amount of drugs produced and drug money amassed by Pablo Escobar and El Chapo Guzman without the actual baseline data,” he added.
Gamboa said Robredo’s brief co-chairmanship of the ICAD was not enough for her to make estimates or assess the success or failure of the national campaign.
For his part, Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año said Robredo’s remark on the drug war was “bereft of logic".
"That is her opinion... ako, kung sino man 'yung gumawa ng materials niya, that's actually bereft of logic, it's like counting the chickens before the eggs are hatched. Para bang sinabi mo na may sampung baboy, manganganak araw-araw, binilang mo na hanggang tatlong taon," he said.
"You cannot count this like na parang bangko, compounded and compare it to the data reported by PDEA (Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency) or Dangerous Drugs Board. It defies logic," he added.
Comparing the data recorded by the PNP and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), Robredo said in her report that of the 3,000 kilograms of shabu consumed by drug users in a week based on the record of the police, the PDEA was able to recover only 1,344.87 kilograms.
Año said he was not aware of the sources of data of Robredo but he concluded that it was just the law enforcer’s “working data” and that it was not the final statistics.
"Ngayon ko lang nakita 'yung consumption na 'yun, sa totoo lang - 3,000 kilograms per week? Pagka ganoon karami, lahat tayo tumitira na tayo noon eh. Three tons 'yun. Pag makita mo ang isang military truck na malaki, two and a half tons 'yun, 'yun mismo ang weight ng ano... eh sabi mo 3,000 kilos, that's three tons. I don't know saan galing 'yung data na 'yun," he said.
"Probably the basis is one interview and they're actually pointing to a particular period of time but you cannot generalize it as if it is the gospel truth," he added.
Earlier, PNP Drug Enforcement Group (DEG) Director Romeo Caramat said back in 2002, there were about three million drug users in the country. At around a gram for each drug user per week, this translates to a demand of three tons per week.
In another interview, PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino said the data used by the Vice President were all unofficial.
“Unang-una, may lumabas kasing datos ang PNP na sabi nila 156,000 kilos every year ang nagci-circulate na droga and noong tinatanong ko ang PNP especially ‘yung drug enforcement group kung saan galing ‘yung statement na ‘yun, ang sabi nila sa akin it’s just a wild assumption, hindi official figure ‘yun,” Aquino said.
“Samantalang ibinangga ng ating Vice President ‘yung datos ng PNP sa isang factual figure. Kumbaga parang kinompare mo ang isang apple sa isang orange, hindi puwede mong i-compare ‘yun,” he added.
He said during a meeting with the council along with Robredo earlier, he told her that the ICAD has no actual data on drug consumption in the country.
“Nahihirapan kami para malaman ang actual datos. Wala kaming datos doon. Ipinaliwanag noon, narinig pa nga niya. So ang ginamit na datos ngayon, isang unofficial na figure na nanggaling sa PNP na sabi naman ng PNP, it’s a wild assumption,” he said. (SunStar Philippines)