During Round 3 of the first presidential debate organized by GMA-7 and the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Sunday, February 21, Roxas and Binay were asked how they would solve the problem of drug abuse, which affects 1.7 million Filipinos.
Roxas said the Aquino administration was able to seize P2 billion worth of drugs when he was the head of the police force as interior secretary.
Binay countered that the police actually had poor law enforcement record and low conviction rate of drug lords.
"Indecisive ang leadership. Ako sa Makati inabutan kong problema 'yan. Ako ay decisive, wala tayong papayagan 'yang mga kaso ng illegal drug syndicates," Binay said, saying this is also how he will stop drug cartels when elected.
(The leadership is indecisive. I faced that problem [when I was Makati mayor]. I was decisive. We did not let the cases of illegal drug syndicates slip.)
But Roxas pointed out that there are two faces of Makati – the "prosperous" side developed by the Ayalas and the poor barangays – then stressed that Makati actually has the highest drug abuse rate.
"And'yan lahat ng drugs, kahit Biyernes Santo laganap ang drugs sa Makati," Roxas said, citing exclusive subdivisions and high-end bars. (Drugs are rampant there, even on Good Friday.)
Roxas said that if elected president, he will continue to chase after drug cartels all the way down to the barangay level. He also said that the problem with illegal drugs should not be the responsibility of the police force alone.
"It takes all of us coming together as a society, we have to cooperate," he said in a mix of English and Filipino.
‘Data from thin air’
Binay's communications director Joey Salgado countered Roxas' claim, saying that the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) had consistently recognized Makati for its anti-drug campaign.
He even emphasized that the number of poor Makati residents has "declined dramatically" from 17,000 in the year 2000 to just 2,000 in 2012.
"Now contrast that with poverty in Roxas City," Salgado said, referring to Roxas' home city, where he was congressman for 9 years.
Salgado said that "instead of talking about issues, Roxas opted to talk about himself, and spent his time hitting his opponents by plucking data from thin air."
Metro Manila problem
Nine out of 10 barangays in Metro Manila have drug problems.
In August 2015, the Southern Police District confiscated some P1 million worth of various illegal drugs in Makati City. An Indian national was dealing party and sex drugs in clubs and bars.
Earlier in 2015, a Mexican named Horacio Hernandez was arrested for selling P12 million worth of cocaine also in Makati City. Hernandez was believed to be part of the infamous Sinaloa drug cartel, an international drug crime syndicate. – Patty Pasion / Rappler.com
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