Duterte govt sets new record on illegal drugs seized

Kyodo News

Posted at Jan 06 2017 08:14 PM

NBI agents and chemists make an inventory of the shabu seized at Mangga Street in Little Baguio, San Juan City on Friday. ABS-CBN News

MANILA - A record-high 14.23 billion pesos (more than $288 million) worth of illegal drugs were seized in the Philippines during President Rodrigo Duterte's first six months in office, owing to his intense anti-drug campaign, the government's lead agency Friday.

According to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), the amount exceeded even the yearly value of seized illegal drugs and precursor chemicals from 2011 until 2015, the highest of which, 6.18 billion pesos, was recorded in 2014.

Methamphetamine hydrochloride, commonly known as "shabu" and the most popular choice for abuse, topped the list of seized substances during the half-year period, at 1,606 kilograms. The others include marijuana, ecstasy and cocaine.

"Rest assured that PDEA will be at the helm in keeping the president's promise to the Filipino people," the agency's head Isidro Lapena said in a statement.

Just after Duterte assumed power on June 30 last year, he ordered law enforcement agencies and the military to implement his campaign promises to crack down on the drug crime problem and stamp out "narco-politics" before it takes root in the country on a massive scale.

Since then, police say, over one million drug suspects -- mostly abusers but also peddlers -- have surrendered to authorities, while more than 2,000 other suspects have been killed, allegedly while resisting arrest.

The agency said it took part in 19,712 anti-drug operations during the six-month period, resulting in the arrest of 18,173 suspects.

Separate statistics provided by the police, who are expected to coordinate with the agency but sometimes operate on their own, show over 40,000 anti-drug operations during the same period, resulting in the arrest of more than 43,000 suspects.

While extrajudicial killings attributed to Duterte's war on drugs have drawn concern from human rights advocates, foreign governments and international institutions, surveys show that most Filipinos support their 71-year-old leader.

Results of a Dec. 6-11 survey of independent pollster Pulse Asia Research released Friday show that Duterte "continues to enjoy big majority approval and trust ratings" at 83 percent among 1,200 adult respondents across the country.

Duterte has said his bloody anti-drug campaign will continue, so long as he remains in power, until the last drug peddler is eliminated.