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Palace: Aquino comments vs drug war imply jaded cynicism

Former President Benigno Aquino III questioned the effectivity of President Rodrigo Duterte's anti-drug campaign. AP/Bullit Marquez, file

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 3:27 p.m.)  — Malacañang on Wednesday defended President Rodrigo Duterte's so-called war on drugs following criticisms from his predecessor, former President Benigno Aquino III.

"Parang wala yatang nangyari," Aquino told reporters, noting that his last statistics in 2015 showed that there were 1.8 million users which are the same with the numbers from the end of 2016.

READ: Flawed, fuzzy numbers in the war on drugs

In response to Aquino's comments, presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella stressed that the administration's anti-drug campaign resulted in the voluntary surrender of more than 1.3 million drug suspects.

"With all due respect to former President Aquino, the results of PRRD's anti-illegal drug campaign speak for themselves," Abella said in a statement.

"Comments like the above from past leaders imply a jaded cynicism borne of a history of political opportunism," he added.

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Abella noted that about 96,703 personalities have been arrested in the first year of Duterte's war on drugs while there were only 77,810 arrested drug personalities during Aquino's entire six years in office.

READ: 4M drug users 'in the realm of possibility,' DDB insists

About 2,445.80 kilograms of methamphetamine or shabu have been seized during Duterte's first year in office compared to Aquino's six-year record of 3,219.07 kilograms.

"Much ground has been gained in the campaign against hard drug traffickers and violators, but the mission is to end the demand, production, distribution and sale of illegal drugs," Abella said.

Meanwhile, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo dismissed Aquino's comment as “shamelessly cocky and an outrageous chutzpah.”

Chutzpah is a loan word from Yiddish and means supreme self-confidence or audacity.

“The criticism comes from someone under whose watch the drug menace proliferated in unsurpassed magnitude due to the previous administration’s either gross incompetence in curbing it or criminal neglect in stopping its spread,” Panelo said in a statement.

“It has to take a president unschooled in refined hypocrisy and unscarred in corruption to lay the foundation for its dismantling to save a generation from addiction and cleanse the country from its lethal consequences,” the president's lawyer, known for his flashy fashion sense and penchant for using complicated words, said.

READ: A year of Duterte's dystopian vision

Several United Nations member countries have called on the Philippine government to put a halt to extrajudicial killings in the conduct of Duterte's war on drugs.

During the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review Working Group’s report on the Philippines last May, 45 countries expressed concern over the human rights situation in the Philippines. — with a report from Alexis Romero

RELATED: UN experts urge Philippines to stop violence vs Lumads, human rights defenders

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