‘1 over 100’: Robredo calls Duterte’s drug war a ‘failure’

Mara Cepeda
‘1 over 100’: Robredo calls Duterte’s drug war a ‘failure’
Vice President Leni Robredo gives the Duterte administration a dismal score in the fight against drugs, saying it was only able to seize 1% of the shabu supply in the Philippines

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo gave President Rodrigo Duterte’s government a dismal “1 out of 100” score in its flagship program to fight narcotics, saying that authorities were only able to seize 1% of the total supply of illegal drugs in the country.

On Monday, January 6, Robredo slammed the bloody anti-drug campaign as a  “failure” as she finally revealed her findings during her 18-day stint as co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) in late 2019.

“Failure talaga siya dahil ‘yung kampanya laban sa ilegal na droga, maraming aspeto ito. Maraming aspeto at nakikita natin, gaya ng sinabi ko sa report, na masyado nang natutukan ‘yung street-level enforcement, ‘yung pagtugis sa maliit na mga pushers at users,” the Vice President said.

(It’s really a failure because the campaign against illegal drugs has a lot of aspects. It has many aspects, and like what I mentioned in the report, they put too much focus on street-level enforcement, going after the small-time pushers and users.)

“At kahit gawin ito araw-araw, kung hindi naman inaasikaso ‘yung supply constriction na nanggagaling, ‘yun ‘yung pagtugis ng mga malalaking suppliers, talagang hindi matatapos ang problema,” she added.

(And even if we do this every day, yet we don’t take care of the supply constriction, going after the big-time suppliers, the problem will not end.)

Citing the highlights from her 40-page ICAD report, Robredo said data from the Philippine National Police (PNP) Drug Enforcement Group showed drug addicts consume 3,000 kilos of shabu every week across the country, or equal to about 156,000 kilos every year.  

But the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) was able to seize just 1,344 kilos of shabu from January to October 2019. In 2018, the PDEA was able to recover 785 kilos of shabu, while the number was at 1,053 kilos in 2017. (READ: After 3 years, Duterte gov’t still has to rid over 17,000 barangays of drugs) 

The Duterte administration also performed poorly in recovering drug money. Once again citing PNP data, Robredo said the 3,000 kilos of shabu consumed per week is equivalent to about P25 billion a week or P1.3 trillion a year. But the Anti-Money Laundering Council was only able to seize P1.4 billion worth of drug money from 2017 to 2018.

“Malinaw na malinaw, na ayon mismo sa opisyal na datos, sa kabila ng lahat ng Pilipinong pinatay, at lahat ng perang ginasta, hindi lumampas sa isang porsiyento ang naipit natin sa supply ng shabu at sa perang kinita mula sa droga,” Robredo said.

(It is so clear based on official data that despite the number of Filipinos killed and all the money spent, the shabu supply seized and the drug money recovered did not even breach 1%.)

“Isang porsiyento. Isipin na lang natin, kung exam ito, ang magiging score ng ating pamahalaan ay 1 over 100,” she added.

(That’s just 1%. If this were an exam, the score of the government would be 1 over 100.)

Duterte had designated Robredo as ICAD co-chair after she said the drug war has to be “tweaked” because it is “not working.” The President, however, fired Robredo from the post 18 days after she accepted the job, saying he could not trust her. (READ: [OPINION] The implications of Leni Robredo’s ICAD removal)

‘Scrap Tokhang’

On Monday, the Vice President said there is now a need for the Duterte government to address its “lopsided” priorities in the anti-drug campaign, which she said is heavily focused on law enforcement.

She once again called for the end of the controversial Oplan Tokhang, where police literally knock on the doors of suspected drug users and dealers to ask them to stop their habit or trade.

But Tokhang has since become synonymous to extrajudicial killings after reports surfaced of police killing unarmed suspects and after lists of drug suspects compiled during Tokhang operations led to their deaths. (READ: The Impunity Series) 

“Mula sa datos na ito, makikita natin na kinakailangan ang pagpalit ng stratehiya. Kasama na rito ang pagtigil sa Tokhang at paglabas ng bagong kasulatang mayroong mas malinaw na layunin at operational guidelines para maiwasan ang mga naging abuso ng iilan sa kampanyang ito,” Robredo said. 

(From these data, we see the need to change strategies. This includes stopping Tokhang and crafting new policies with clear goals and operational guidelines to avoid the abuses committed under this campaign.)

The Vice President is a longtime critic of Duterte’s drug war. According to police, more than 6,000 people have been killed in anti-drug operations. But human rights groups estimate the numbers could reach almost 27,000 to include victims of vigilante-style killings. – Rappler.com

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.