Duterte fires drugs board chief for 'contradicting' government

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 25 2017 04:33 PM

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday fired Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) chairman Benjamin Reyes for supposedly contradicting the government’s official data on drug addicts in the country.

“I would like to put to task publicly this Reyes,” an angry Duterte told reporters upon his arrival from Russia Wednesday.

Duterte said he was irked when Reyes, citing a DDB survey, cited data that there were only 1.8 million drug users in the country during a forum attended by United Nations special rapporteur Agnes Callamard.

The President said Reyes contradicted the government when he used this figure. He said there were now about 4 million drug users in the country.

“You’re fired today. Get out of the service. You don’t contradict your own government,” he said.

“If you are there, you are just a civilian member of the board. You are not the implementor of the law. The correct count is [with] the police and PDEA (Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency).”

Duterte had previously said there were 3 million drug addicts in the country, citing figures from former PDEA chief Dionisio Santiago.

The president, now pursuing a fierce anti-drug war, now pegs the number of drug users to be at 4 million. This figure has also been officially adopted by the government.

An infographic from the Presidential Communications Operations Office’s Twitter account pegging the number of drug users at 4 million.

Duterte’s claim on the number of drug addicts were scrutinized, partly because of the availability of the DDB survey conducted from January 2015 to February 2016 which showed that there were only 1.8 million drug users in the country.