Robredo says only 50% of drug surenderees screened
MANILA, Philippines – Only 32 percent to 50 percent of the 1.3 million drug users and pushers who surrendered to the government have been screened on the level of their drug dependence, Vice President Leni Robredo said in her drug war report.
Robredo said on Monday that she obtained the numbers through the United States Agency for International Development (Usaid) assessment of the drug war, as the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) — the committee she briefly led — did not give her any data.
“Sa ulat pa ng USAID kami nakahanap ng numero. Hanggang Hulyo 2019, batay sa ginawa nilang ‘rapid assessment’, 32-50% pa lamang ng 1.3 million na sumuko ang dumaan na sa screening at assessment para malaman kung gaano kalala ang kanilang adiksyon,” Robredo revealed in a press conference.
“Samantala, 10-15% pa lang ang sumasailalim sa programang pang-rehabilitasyon para sa komunidad,” she added.
Robredo also noted that there is no further information about the surrenderees’ status, and reiterated that baseline data on the drug war is non-existent, thus making it impossible to measure progress properly.
“Not only is reliable baseline data for the number of drug users absent, a common process across agencies for systematically tracking data pertaining to what happens to users after they surrender or are arrested is also not yet in place,” she explained.
But aside from these, she also revealed another problem: PDEA admitted to her that it was not able to distinguish who among the 1.5 million drug users accounted by PNP are pushers and users.
She also warned that this may lead to the mixing of drug users and pushers in rehabilitation centers, which may only intensify a person’s addiction as he or she builds another network towards drug use.
“The PDEA, in the ICAD Conference, admitted that they ‘could not identify kung alin ba doon ‘yong drug users at iyong drug pushers’. This was seconded by the PNP, who committed that they will exert [their] best effort,” Robredo’s report said.
“This basic matter has enormous implications, because under RA No. 9165, ‘persons who may have offended Section 15 (Use of Dangerous Drugs) are given by the law a different treatment — or more accurately, a preferred treatment — when compared to pushers and others who are involved in the drug trade’,” she added.
The number of drug users in the country is a mixture of different estimates from various sources. As per the Philippine National Police (PNP), 1.5 million drug users have been accounted for, but government agencies generally use 4.0 million drug users as a guide.
However, President Rodrigo Duterte also previously said that the drug number has swelled to 7 to 8 million, leading Robredo to ask whether the drug menace has actually worsened under the Duterte administration.
The Vice President earlier said that Duterte’s drug war was a failure, as it failed to limit the illegal drugs and the drug money moving around the country.
According to numbers shown by Robredo and were sourced from PNP and PDEA data, a paltry 1,344.87 kilograms of shabu were seized by authorities from January to October 2019 compared to the estimated annual consumption of 156,000 kilograms.
She also suggested that the Dangerous Drugs Board, and not PDEA, lead the ICAD to ensure a more holistic approach in fighting the drug problem.
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