Palace claims victory in war on drugs
The country’s drug problem has now become a “public health issue,” Malacañang announced on Tuesday as it claimed victory in its war on drugs despite President Duterte’s failure to make good on his promise to eradicate the drug menace in six months.
Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said critics of the administration’s merciless drug war, which has claimed the lives of more than 6,000 suspected drug personalities, should look at it “with the right perspective.”
“Exposing the drug menace has now led the government to look at it not only as a national security [threat], but also now as a public health issue. Hence, the building of [rehabilitation facilities] all over the nation,” Abella told a news conference in Malacañang.
He said authorities had made a headway in the fight against the narcotics trade with the surrender of about 900,000 drug dependents across the archipelago.
The success of the campaign, he added, was also evident in the sharp decline in index crimes, or crimes against property, as reported by the Philippine National Police.
Told that the PNP also disclosed that murder cases had surged by more than 50 percent in the past six months, Abella said this figure should be “put in context.”
“It says also that index crime rates have lowered significantly, telling us that majority of those crimes have been related to drugs,” Abella stressed.
“So in a sense, it is a question of being able to see it with the right perspective,” he said. “If you hear anecdotal reports of people, they actually say how much they deeply appreciate the fact that they can go home safer.”
In a recent survey of the Social Weather Stations, an overwhelming number of Filipinos expressed satisfaction with the government’s handling of the antidrug campaign, which many local and international groups had described as prone to abuses with the unabated killings of drug suspects.
However, close to four out of five citizens fear that they may fall victim to extrajudicial killings perpetrated by masked assassins.
Abella maintained that the President was not happy with the deaths of thousands of drug personalities, saying it was not something to cheer about.
“Nobody celebrates that. Nobody appreciates that,” he said. “However, we do appreciate the fact that the situation on the ground is so much more safer. That is what we celebrate.”
Abella said Mr. Duterte’s efforts had also helped unmask about 5,000 government officials allegedly involved in the sale and manufacture of illegal drugs.
“In one way or another, that is already significant. Identifying the enemy is about 50 percent of the battle, right?” he said. “So it tells you that prior to him, prior to this situation, this was not something that was being done.”
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.