Ex-PDEA chief Santiago is new drugs board chair

MANILA, Philippines – Retired general Dionisio Santiago, former head of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), has been appointed the new chairman of the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB).

In a text message to Rappler on Saturday evening, July 8, Santiago confirmed that he was appointed for a period of one year, from July 1 this year to June 30, 2018. 

President Rodrigo Duterte often cites Santiago as the basis of his figure of "4 million drug addicts" in the Philippines. But a DDB survey, published in September 2016, showed that there are only 1.8 million drug users in the country. (READ: Is Duterte's '4 million drug addicts' a 'real number'?)

Santiago replaced Benjamin Reyes, who was publicly fired as DDB chief by Duterte on May 24 for giving a different figure for the number of drug addicts.

As the new DDB chair, Santiago told Rappler that his agency "will try to re-engineer the anti-drug campaign." 

Santiago said he will push for amendments to the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 and the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001. He also wants to look into rehabilitation programs run by the government. 

Dionisio served as PDEA chief from 2006 to 2011. He also ran for senator but lost in the 2016 elections. – Rappler.com

Michael Bueza

Michael Bueza is a researcher and data curator under Rappler's Research Team. He works on data about elections, governance, and the budget. He also follows the Philippine pro wrestling scene and the WWE. Michael is also part of the Laffler Talk podcast trio.