Barrita: Real number of PH drug users

THE Philippine National Police (PNP) said more than a million drug suspects turned themselves in since the war on drugs started on July 1 last year.

Thousands of drug suspects were killed in police operations.

Tens of thousands more were arrested and are now facing criminal cases in court.


Former U.S. President Barack Obama had raised the human rights issue over the bloody war on drugs, prompting President Rody Duterte to call him “son of a whore.”

But Obama’s successor, Donald Trump, who misspelled our country’s name as Phillipines and called our president as President Duarte, was impressed by the war on drugs.

Trump was so impressed that he promised to give $2 million for it.


But how many really are the drug users in the Philippines?

Sen. Ana Theresia “Risa” Hontiveros posed this question to the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) during the Senate’s deliberation Thursday on the proposed 2018 national budget.

She said she wants to clarify the conflicting claims on the total number of drug dependents in the country.


Hontiveros said the DDB under the watch of retired general Dionisio Santiago used the estimate of three to four million drug users in the Philippines.

Dionisio, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) chief in the Arroyo administration, said the figure was his “guesstimate…based on my experience on the ground.”

Dionisio, who recently quit his post, replaced Benjamin Reyes, who was sacked by President Duterte last May for saying there were only 1.8 million drug users in the country.


Hontiveros asked the DDB to be precise in its figures because the Senate cannot plan the country’s national budget based on a ‘guesstimate.”

“More than the budgetary concerns, this is also a life and death issue. We cannot judge who lives or dies based on a guesstimate,” she said.

But PDEA said only one drug suspect was killed since they took over the fight against drugs in October.
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