war on drugs

After 5 years of PH drug war, shabu still a major problem – UNODC

Jairo Bolledo

File photo of crystal methamphetamine or shabu


Shabu caused the majority of drug-related arrests and treatment admissions in 2020, says the United Nations office

Almost five years of waging a drug war, the last two amid a pandemic, the spread of crystalline methamphetamine or shabu remained the bane of Philippine authorities.

This data was provided in the latest report of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), which said shabu was still a main cause of drug concern in the Philippines.

The UNODC reported that shabu was the cause of majority of drug-related arrests and treatment admissions in 2020. More than 45,000 individuals were nabbed by the Philippine authorities for using the illegal drug, while over 2,000 were admitted for treatment or rehabilitation.

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According to the UNODC, shabu persisted as the dominant drug problem because of the continuous production and supply of the illegal substance in the neighboring countries of the Philippines.

“The Philippines continue to play a significant role in the regional drug trade, both as a destination and transit country, especially for methamphetamine. As long as production in Southeast Asia continues while there is demand in the country, supply will always find a way to meet demand,” UNODC Regional Synthetic Drugs Coordinator Inshik Sim said in a message to Rappler.

Meanwhile, the inveterate lockdowns and quarantine restrictions due to the raging COVID-19 pandemic did not affect the anti-drug operations, according to the UN office.

The annual seizure of shabu in 2020 exceeded the recorded data in 2019. Around 2,196 kilograms were seized by the Philippine authorities in 2020 compared to the 2,071 kilograms confiscated in 2019. 

In the local front, however, the Philippine National Police (PNP), the agency at the vanguard of the government’s drug war, has yet to release the official data of the arrests and killings related to their operations for 2021. 

The PNP’s latest data released in 2020 counted a total of 7,884 deaths from July 1, 2016 to August 31, 2020. The police also reported it has conducted a total of 223,608 anti-drug operations during that period, while 251,889 individuals were arrested. – Rappler.com

Jairo Bolledo

Jairo Bolledo is a multimedia reporter at Rappler covering the police, crime, military, and security.