In a 63-page yearend report released Monday night, the administration said the reforms it introduced are “gaining ground” and are paving the way for the economy to maintain its growth. Marcelino Pascua/Presidential Photo, File

Palace: Drug war hugely successful
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - December 26, 2017 - 4:00pm

MANILA, Philippines — It’s been a year of accomplishments, as far as the Duterte administration is concerned, as it cited reforms introduced by the President and a “hugely successful” war on drugs.

In a 63-page yearend report released Monday night, the administration said the reforms it introduced are “gaining ground” and are paving the way for the economy to maintain its growth.

“The Duterte administration has accomplished much in its first full year in office in 2017. The President’s decisive leadership, plus the strong collaboration among various government agencies, has resulted in the attainment of many of the priorities set out by the national government in the last 12 months,” it read.

The government is optimistic that 2018 will be a “more robust year” because of the approval of the national budget and the tax reform bill – laws that are seen to modernize the country’s infrastructure and boost human capital formation.

One of the report highlights is the administration’s gains in the war on illegal drugs –the centerpiece platform of President Duterte.

It said more than 16,000 deaths are being investigated and over 118,000 drug offenders arrested since the government launched its war on narcotics. Government data showed that authorities are probing a total of 16,355 “homicide cases” although the number may be higher as the report only covered July 1, 2016 to Sept. 30, 2017.

Human rights advocates classified the deaths as “extrajudicial killings” as they claim that President Duterte’s rhetoric has emboldened policemen to use shortcuts in the anti-drug crackdown.

But officials disagreed, saying extrajudicial killings or EJKs only apply to members of cause-oriented groups, advocates of such cases, media practitioners and those apparently mistaken or identified to be so as defined under Administrative Order 35 signed by former president Benigno Aquino III in 2012.

This definition became the basis of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in claiming that there are no EJKs in the country.

The yearend report showed a total of 3,967 drug offenders killed and 118,287 others arrested in anti-drug operations as of Nov. 27. It added that more than 1.3 million drug suspects have surrendered to authorities.

From 79,193 operations, government forces seized P18.92 billion worth of illegal drugs and drug paraphernalia, it said.

At least 4,747 barangays were declared drug-free as of Nov. 27 and more than 16,000 drug dependents are undergoing the health department’s rehabilitation program. A total of 2,236 former drug users have completed the program. Also, over 14,000 drug addicts who surrendered were given livelihood and skills training by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority as of end September.

Hugely successful

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the anti-drug war has been “hugely successful.”

“I think the communities are safer and our young people are better protected against drugs,” he said in a recent interview.

Roque said he expects fewer allegations of human rights violations tied to the illegal drugs drug clampdown.

“I think it’s human experience that we should hear less complaints because we know how to do it better,” the spokesman said.

He reiterated that the President does not condone extrajudicial killings and is ready to prosecute policemen or soldiers who violate the law.

Despite allegations of extrajudicial killings and abusive practices, the anti-drug crackdown remains popular among Filipinos.

Eight in every ten Filipinos or 88 percent back the campaign, according to the Third Quarter 2017 Pulse Asia survey. A Pew Research Center poll, meanwhile, found that 78 percent of Filipinos support Duterte’s handling of the fight against narcotics.

The administration also cited the lower crime rate and efforts to cleanse the Philippine National Police (PNP) of scalawags.

It said the total crime volume from January to October hit only 452,204 or lower by 8.44 percent when compared to the 493,912 cases recorded in the same period last year.

Robbery incidents also went down by 23.61 percent to 13,948 from 18,259.

With regard to the PNP’s internal cleansing efforts, the administration reported that 426 policemen have been recommended for dismissal because of various offenses.

The two policemen involved in the death of 19-year old Carl Arnaiz were also dismissed. Two senior officers – Police Chief Supt. Edgardo Tinio and Police Director Joel Pagdilao – were also fired over drug-related charges.

More than 1,900 drug-related investigations have been carried out against law enforcers from July 1, 2016 to June 15, 2017.

The yearend report also enumerated the high-profile tax cases pursued by the government, including Mighty Corp.’s P40-billion settlement with the administration, Philippine Airlines’ payment of its P6-billion debt to the government and Sunvar Realty Development Corp.’s compliance with the court order to vacate the Mile Long property in Makati.

Other accomplishments mentioned in the report include the 6.9 percent economic growth and 2.32 percent agriculture growth in the third quarter, the announcement of the three-year rolling infrastructure program worth P157.44 billion, the 22.6 percent spending growth in June, passage of the free college tuition law and the crafting of the Marawi rehabilitation plan.

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