MANILA - Former President Benigno Aquino III on Tuesday questioned the effectiveness of the Duterte administration's campaign against drugs, saying his administration did not launch an all-out war but was able to reduce the number of illegal drug users.
Aquino said data from the Dangerous Drugs Board pegged the number of drug users when he assumed office at 1.7 million, and they were able to bring it down to 1.3 million mid-term, only to see it rise back to 1.8 million in 2015.
He said that a fired DDB board chair, who he stressed he did not appoint, also said that there are currently 1.8 million drug users in the country. He was pertaining to Chairman Benjamin Reyes, who was removed from his post in May for supposedly contradicting the government’s official data.
"Ang sasabihin ko lang, nung kami 1.8 million; tapos sa isang taon nito na may all-out na kampanya laban sa drugs, 1.8 million pa rin ang sinasabi ng survey at survey na nila yan," he told reporters in an ambush interview in Manila Memorial Park where a mass for his late mother, former President Corazon Aquino, was held.
(All I can say is during my term, there were 1.8 million drug users. Now, despite an all-out campaign against illegal drugs, there are still 1.8 million drug users according to a government survey.)
"So para makita natin kung may success or failures, kailangan mai-compare natin, sa English, apples to apples: Ano ba yung status, ano ba yung statistika?," he said.
(To see any success or failure, we have to compare apples to apples. What is the status? What are the statistics?)
Noting again that his last statistics in 2015 said there were 1.8 million users and the statistics from 2016's end also said there were 1.8 million users, Aquino said: "Parang wala yatang nangyari." (It seems like nothing happened.)
Pressed if he believes this means President Rodrigo Duterte' anti-drug drive is ineffective, Aquino said: "Hindi ko alam pero maganda sanang [mai]paliwanag yung bakit parehong pareho yung mga numero."
(I don't know, but it would be good to explain why the numbers are exactly the same.)
Aquino also expressed his "questions" on the circumstances surrounding the bloody raid in Ozamiz City, Misamis Occidental that left the town mayor and 14 others dead.
He noted that a newspaper report said 16 police operatives were present during the raid and about 15 people were killed from the camp of slain Mayor Reynaldo "Aldong" Parojinog Sr.
"Eh halos tabla yung numero. Tabla yung numero, naka-kubli kung pinutukan sila kaagad, i-assume natin na kumubli yung mga nasa loob, medyo dapat ata mas marami yung sugatan dun sa mga lumulusob," he said.
Aquino stressed, however, that his misgivings are only questions that floated in his mind as he read news reports.
"Yung sa akin, ulitin ko lang, tanong ito. Wala ako dun, wala akong nakapanayam na testigo dun, pero kaagad, mapapag-isip ka at ang dami nga nitong patay, parang minimal na minimal yung puwersang pumasok, parang na-achieve nang husto yung tinatawag na surprise," he said.
"Pero ayon sa ulat nila, wala yatang surprise dahil nagkaroon pa raw ng dayalogo. So paano nangyari yun? Tulad ng sinuman, curious ako," he added.
Parojinog Sr., who was one of the local government officials named in Duterte's narco-list, was killed in a series of raids in San Roque Lawis, Ozamiz City early Sunday along with 14 others. Their camp allegedly resisted when they were served 6 search warrants for firearms at around 2:30 a.m.
His daughter, Vice Mayor Nova Princess Parojinog, meanwhile was arrested during the operation and was detained in the Ozamiz police office. She and her brother have been transferred to Camp Crame.