MANILA (UPDATE) -- The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Tuesday affirmed President Rodrigo Duterte's statement that the drug situation in the country has "worsened," even as the number of drug users has come down.
International drug syndicates continue to smuggle a "large volume of illegal drugs" into the country, said PNP Spokesperson Police Col. Bernard Banac.
He cited as examples the recent seizures of P1.8 billion worth of shabu at the capital's port, another P1.1-billion meth haul in Muntinlupa, and millions of pesos worth of "floating cocaine" bricks retrieved on and off shore in different parts of the country.
"Sumasang-ayon tayo sa assessment ng Pangulo na nag-worsen nga talaga ang drug situation in the sense na iyung mga international drug syndicates ay patuloy pa rin na niyuyurakan ang ating mga batas, patuloy pa rin sila na nagpapasok ng large volume of illegal drugs," Banac told reporters.
(We agree with the assessment of the President that the drug situation has worsened in the sense that international drug syndicates continue to trample on our laws and smuggle a large volume of illegal drugs.)
Duterte on Monday was quoted as saying that "things have worsened" in the government's anti-narcotics drive and that police officers "are at the brink of surrendering."
The recently intercepted multibillion-peso drug hauls, he said, were mere decoys.
Banac agreed with this, saying: "May ina-anticipate tayong mas marami pang paparating na volume ng illegal drugs."
(We are anticipating much more volume of illegal drugs to arrive.)
The PNP is engaged in "continuous preparation" for this, he said.
GOV'T 'WINNING' DRUG WAR
Interior Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya, meanwhile, said there are indications that the government is winning the drug war.
"The fact na may mga nahuhuli tayong tone-toneladang drugs... iyung isang point of view, sasabihin na lumalala kasi ang dami. But the other point of view is nagiging effective ang ating kapulisan.
We're working on the supply side na napipigilan na itong mga shipments na ito," he said.
(The fact that we are netting tons of drugs, one point of view is that the situation is worsening because of the volume. But the other point of view is that our police are becoming effective. We're working on the supply side and these shipments are being blocked.)
"Sa tingin namin (in our view), all of these arrests, all of these shipments, all of these cases being filed are actually indications that we are winning the war," he added.
Banac also said that in terms of reducing drug use, the government has seen "significant progress and accomplishment."
He noted a recent opinion poll where majority of Filipinos said there were fewer drug users in their communities in the last quarter of 2018.
At least 5,317 alleged drug suspects were killed from the time the administration's anti-illegal drugs campaign began on July 1, 2016 until December 18, 2018, independent monitoring by the ABS-CBN Investigative & Research Group showed.
Six out of every 10 victims were killed in operations conducted by law enforcement agencies, including police and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency operatives, data showed.
Duterte rose to power in 2016 riding on a campaign to rid the country of illegal drugs and corruption.
His drug war has drawn wide criticism over alleged deaths and the failure to net major traffickers.