More than 1 million drug addicts surrender to gov’t

Pia Ranada
'Without a doubt, the President's anti-drug war is a success,' Communications Secretary Martin Andanar says

OPLAN TOKHANG. Alleged drug addicts and pushers line up during Operation Tokhang under Delpan Bridge in Manila. Photo by Inoue Jaena/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – The number of self-confessed drug addicts and pushers who have surrendered to the government breached the one million mark by the end of the year, the Palace announced on Saturday, December 31. 

“Figures from the Philippine National Police (PNP) show that from the period of July 1 to December 31, the total number of drug surrenderers is 1,007,153,” Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said in a press release.

This proves the “success” of President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs, Andanar added. (READ: IN NUMBERS: The Philippines’ war on drugs)

“Without a doubt, the President’s anti-drug war is a success. It is evident we are hitting the mark in our campaign against illegal drugs,” he said.

Andanar emphasized that the over one million surrenderers voluntarily gave themselves up.

The PNP, along with local government units, have been carrying out Oplan Tokhang, a strategy in which police knock on doors of suspected addicts or pushers to ask them to surrender and abandon their addiction or trade.

Another indication of progress being made on this front is the reduction of the country’s crime rate by 32%, based on PNP figures, Andanar added.

Duterte himself long predicted that the number of surrenderers would reach the one million mark by the end of 2016. He often says he must deal with 4 million drug addicts, his rationale for his bloody campaign against illegal drugs.

He has admitted that 3 million of this figure is based on 3-year-old data from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA). The Dangerous Drugs Board has a much lower figure: 1.8 million addicts as of 2015.

When asked by Rappler’s Maria Ressa why he still uses the outdated figure, Duterte said, “Because not all is reported. And they do not admit it.”

Drug war’s second phase

Andanar said that in 2017, the Duterte administration will be more active in the “second phase” of its drug war, a phase that will focus more on rehabilitation.

This next phase was heralded by the inauguration of a Chinese-donated mega drug rehabilitation facility in Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija.

“We expect this to be in full gear by 2017 as we shift from the national security mode into the public health mode in our war against illegal drugs,” said Andanar.

Duterte’s drug war has been criticized for encouraging summary killings of suspected drug personalities and addicts.

As of December 15, there have been 4,049 victims of extrajudicial killings even as the police reported 2,165 deaths during their operations.

Though the Duterte government has committed to punish crimes of all kinds, results of investigations into these unlawful killings have yet to be released to the public. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.