Robredo points out 'inconsistent' government data on 'drug war'

Patricia Lourdes Viray - Philstar.com
Robredo points out 'inconsistent' government data on 'drug war'
Vice President Leni Robredo holds a press conference upon presenting her findings on the government's campaign against illegal drugs.
The STAR / Boy Santos

MANILA, Philippines — Revealing her recommendations on the campaign against illegal drugs, Vice President Leni Robredo criticized the government's inconsistent data on the campaign.

Robredo pointed out the inconsistencies on the numbers provided by agencies under the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs during following her 18-day stint as anti-drug czar.

"Kung kalat ang datos, kalat ang kampanya (If the data is a mess, the campaign will be a mess)," Robredo said in a televised press briefing Monday.

Citing Dangerous Drugs Board data as an example, the vice president noted that there were 1.8 million drug users in the country based on the 2015 Nationwide Survey on the Nature and Extent of Drug Abuse in the Philippines.

This was the number of drug users in the country prior to the start of President Rodrigo Duterte's crackdown against illegal drugs in 2016.

At the start of 2019, Duterte claimed that there were seven to eight million drug users in the Philippines, a figure backed by agencies involved in the so-called war on drugs.

 Robredo, however, said the ICAD does not use Duterte's claim of seven to eight million drug dependents. She said that when she asked ICAD, they told her the estimated number of drug users in the country is at four million, which is an extrapolation of those who were arrested and those who surrendered.

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

PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino, meanwhile, admitted to Robredo that the four-million figure is just an estimate.

"Ang sabi nila mayroon lang mahigit 1.2 milyon na sumuko noong 2016. Mayroon din 300,000 na naaresto sa mga operasyon ng pulis. Ang sumatutal 1.5 milyon. Kung gagamitan natin ang 4 milyon estimate at 1.5 milyon pa lang ang accounted for, nasaan ang 2.5 milyon?" she said.

(They said there were 1.2 million surrenderees in 2016. There were about 300,000 arrested in police operations. This would be a total of 1.5 million. If you would use the 4 million estimate and only 1.5 million is accounted for, where is the 2.5 million?)

Robredo also slammed the reported success on the number of drug-cleared barangays despite the lack of data on how many drug users were screened and were given intervention.

The vice president said she failed to acquire the numbers from the ICAD but she got data from the United States Agency for International Development.

Data from the USAID showed that 32 to 50% of the 1.3 million surrenderees underwent screening and assessment to identify the extent of their addiction while only 10 to 15% were placed under communitu-based rehabilitation.

"Wala ring datos ang gobyerno na nagsasabi kung ilang ang nagtutulak ng droga at kung ilang ang gumagamit lamang," Robredo said.

(The government does not also have data on how many people are drug pushers and how may are users.)

'Difficult to assess without proper data'

Robredo added that the government cannot assess the success of its anti-narcotics campaign due to the lack of data more than three years since the crackdown was launched.

"Ang layon natin ay maghanda ng organisado at siyentipikong solusyon. Ayaw na natin ng palpak at bara-bara pero kung sa simpleng datos pa lang ay nagkakagulo na tayo paano pa tayo makakahanap ng tamang solusyon sa problemang bumibiktina sa ating mga kababayan?" she said.

(Our goal is to prepare an organized and scientific solution. We don't want it to be failed and rushed but if we are disorderly even on simple data, how can we find the right solution on the problem that has been victimizing our citizens?)

Following the inconsistencies on numbers that she presented, Robredo called on Duterte to certify as urgent the proposed measures that would fund and strengthen anti-drug abuse councils and offices and to institutionalize community-based rehabilitation.

The vice president also suggested transferring ICAD chairmanship to the DDB and rethinking the overall strategy of the anti-illegal drugs campaign.

After presenting data that only 1% of the shabu supply in the country had been recovered between 2017 and 2018, Robredo said the government should instead focus on arresting drug lords instead of small-time drug pushers. 

She also called for an end to Oplan Tokhang, which is linked to thousands of extrajudicial killings of drug suspects.

"Kahit na nasa uling bahagi na tayo ng administrasyong Duterte, marami pang kailangan gawin at marami pang magagawa. Bukas sana tayo sa tulng at mungkahi ng lahat dahil ang laban na ito ay laban nating lahat," Robredo said.

(Even thought we are near the end of the Duterte administration, we still have a lot to do and we can still do a lot. We should be open to the help and suggestions of others because this fight is for all of us.)



  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with