Palace disputes Aquino assessment of drug war
Malacañang on Wednesday disputed former President Benigno Aquino III’s assessment that the Duterte administration’s war on drugs did not achieve much in its first year.
The current administration arrested more drug personalities in its first year in office than during the six-year Aquino presidency, presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a statement.
Abella stressed that the Duterte administration had already confiscated the equivalent of 75 percent of the total “shabu” (methamphetamine hydrochloride) haul of the Aquino administration.
“With all due respect to former President Aquino, the results of PRRD’s (Duterte’s) anti-illegal drug campaign speak for themselves,” Abella said.
“Comments like the above from past leaders imply a jaded cynicism borne of a history of political opportunism,” Abella added.
Mr. Aquino on Tuesday noted that there were 1.8 million drug users at the end of 2016, a figure similar to the number of drug users at the end of 2015, or six months before the end of Aquino’s term.
“It seems like nothing happened,” Mr. Aquino said in an ambush interview after the Mass to commemorate the eighth death anniversary of his mother, former President Corazon Aquino.
In response, Abella pointed out that the Duterte administration’s antidrug campaign “resulted in the unprecedented voluntary surrender of more than 1.3 million drug personalities.”
Abella said that 96,703 drug personalities were arrested in the administration’s first year “compared to 77,810 drug personalities arrested in the six years of the previous administration.”
The government also confiscated 2,445.80 kilos of shabu in the first year of the Duterte administration “compared to the 3,219.07 kilos of shabu seized in the six years of the previous administration,” he said.
“Much ground has been gained in the campaign against hard drug traffickers and violators, but the mission is to end the demand, production, distribution and sale of illegal drugs,” Abella said.
Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, for his part, dismissed Aquino’s statement as “shamelessly cocky and an outrageous chutzpah.”
“The criticism comes from someone under whose watch the drug menace proliferated in unsurpassed magnitude due to the previous administration’s either gross incompetence in curbing it or criminal neglect in stopping its spread,” Panelo said in a statement.
“It has to take a president unschooled in refined hypocrisy and unscarred in corruption to lay the foundation for its dismantling to save a generation from addiction and cleanse the country from its lethal consequences,” he added.
Panelo said President Duterte’s war on drugs would continue “until the last bastion of the drug syndicate is destroyed pursuant to his constitutional duty to serve and protect the people.”
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