MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday lashed out at his predecessor, former President Benigno Aquino III, for criticizing his war on drugs as he asserted achievements of his campaign.
“Sabi ni PNoy (Aquino), parang walang nangyari. Sige, pumasok ka sa droga PNoy. Pag 'di kita pinutulan ng ulo, buang ka. Anong walang nangyari? G*go ka,” Duterte said in a speech at the 113th Founding Anniversary of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).
(PNoy said it seems nothing happened. Go and get involved in drugs, PNoy, and I will cut your head off. What do you mean nothing happened? [Curses])
Duterte also accused Aquino and his then Interior Secretary Mar Roxas of letting themselves get surrounded by so-called “narco-generals,” one of whom is retired Chief Supt. Vicente Loot, now mayor of Daanbantayan, Cebu.
In a chance interview with reporters, Duterte said Aquino deserved his tongue-lashing, noting that Aquino's achievements in the anti-drug campaign pales in comparison to his.
"Kasi sabi niya walang nangyari sa campaign (He said nothing has has happened in our campaign). In all of his six years, he was only able to seize or catch about 3,045 kilos of shabu," Duterte said, adding that his government has managed to seize about the same amount of shabu in its first year.
Duterte issued the stinging retort after Aquino commented on his anti-narcotics campaign, having broken his yearlong vow of silence on how his successor runs the country.
In an interview on Tuesday, Aquino questioned the effectiveness of Duterte’s war on drugs, saying nothing seemed to have happened in reducing the number of drug users in the country.
Aquino added that his administration did not launch an all-out war but was able to reduce the number of illegal drug users.
The former president said data from the Dangerous Drugs Board pegged the number of drug users when he assumed office at 1.7 million, and that his administration managed to bring it down to 1.3 million mid-term, only to see it rise back to 1.8 million in 2015.
He added that a fired DDB board chair, who he stressed he did not appoint, was the one who gave the figure on the estimated number of drug users in the country.
Aquino was referring to former DDB Chair Benjamin Reyes, who Duterte 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," Aquino told reporters in an interview at the Manila Memorial Park where a mass for his late mother, former President Corazon Aquino, was held.
(All I can say is that 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 whether there is any success or failure, we have to compare apples to apples. What is the status? What are the statistics?)
Noting that the number of drug users during his time and now seems unchanged, Aquino said: "Parang wala yatang nangyari." (It seems like nothing happened.)
Pressed if he believes this meant 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."
PALACE DEFENDS WAR ON DRUGS
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella also struck back at Aquino, saying the government has gained many achievements in its first year.
“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 in a statement.
“Comments like the above from past leaders imply a jaded cynicism borne of a history of political opportunism.”
Abella also presented data to back up the government’s gains in the war on drugs.
He said the President’s campaign resulted in the unprecedented voluntary surrender of more than 1.3 million drug personalities.
He also cited the arrest of 96,703 drug personalities in the first year of the Duterte administration’s anti-drug campaign, compared to 77,810 drug personalities arrested in the six years of the Aquino administration.
Some 2,445.80 kilograms of shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) have been seized in the first year of the present administration’s anti-drug campaign compared to the 3,219.07 kilos seized in Aquino's entire term.
The Duterte administration has many times defended its drug war against critics, saying reported figures of deaths- from 7,000 to 9,000- were overblown.
Latest Philippine National Police (PNP) data show that a total of 3,200 drug personalities were killed in anti-drug operations from July 1, 2016 to June 20, 2017, or 9 killed daily in presumed legitimate anti-drug operations in the first year of the Duterte administration.
The PNP has also determined that out of the 12,833 homicide cases from July 1, 2016 to June 16, 2017, 2,098 deaths were drug-related and 2,535 non-drug related. A total of 8,200 homicide cases were under investigation "with motives to be determined," the PNP earlier said. - with Trishia Billones, ABS-CBN News