SURIGAO CITY - Former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Ronald Dela Rosa on Tuesday insisted that President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs has been successful so far, after the chief executive himself said the country’s illegal drugs problem has worsened.
Dela Rosa, who once led the campaign that has resulted in more that 5,000 deaths in anti-narcotics operations, cited as indicator of success the perception among majority of Filipinos that the number of illegal drug users in their area has decreased.
“It depends on your parameters… For me, my measure of success is to at least have some improvement,” Dela Rosa told reporters on the sidelines of Hugpong ng Pagbabago’s campaign sortie in Surigao City, Surigao del Norte.
Dela Rosa said the survey of pollster Social Weather Stations (SWS) showing that about 66 percent of Filipinos believe "the number of illegal drug users in their area has decreased” means that the government has been successful in its anti-criminality drive.
“If many believe that the number of drug addicts has gone down, then somehow we are successful,” he said.
Dela Rosa, who is running for a seat in the upper house in the May 13 elections, defended the war on drugs even as Duterte himself expressed frustration over the persistence of the drug trade in the country.
In a speech in Cagayan de Oro last March 24, Duterte noted that “things have worsened” when it comes to the illegal drug trade in the country, and that “policemen are at the brink of surrendering.”
Then, in a speech in Malabon last April 2, Duterte said the drug war failed because of the immense reach of the drug trade network, and the links between some law enforcement officials, elected government officials and drug syndicates.
At least 5,700 drug-related fatalities have been recorded from May 10, 2016 until March 19, 2019, based on independent monitoring by the ABS-CBN Investigative & Research Group.
A majority (3,764) of the fatalities were in operations by law enforcement agencies or the so-called "nanlaban" (violent resistance) cases.