QUEZON CITY—Eleven out of 10. That’s how the head of the country’s lead anti-drug agency would rate the government’s war on drugs 3 years since it was launched in July 2016.
Director-General Aaron Aquino of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) was asked on Friday to assess the government’s anti-drug efforts at a press conference at the PDEA head office in Quezon City.
Asked to rate the campaign from 1 to 10, he said: “Pwede ba 11?”
“We are winning the war on drugs,” he went on to say, citing more than 12,000 drug-cleared barangays and the arrest of more than 155,000 drug offenders.
He also mentioned a “high” number of anti-drug operations and high-value targets arrested, although he did not give an exact figure.
He acknowledged daily reports of anti-drug operations might give the perception that the drug problem in the country has only gotten worse but said this is only a case of “first impression."
“Is the drug problem worsening? It’s not. In fact, lahat ng drug operations ng PDEA and PNP, level-up,” he said.
Data gathered by the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group from PDEA shows the agency seized a total of 776.06 kilos of shabu worth P5.27 billion from January to March this year with major raids in Tanza, Cavite; Muntinlupa City; and Manila International Container Port.
The agency also recorded 25 incidents of floating cocaine recovered along Philippine coasts from February to May amounting to P1.54 billion.
But human rights groups have accused the government of waging a deadly and costly campaign that has claimed the lives of more than 27,000 victims, including children who have died as collateral damage. The latest casualty is 3-year-old Myka Ulpina who died in a police operation in Rodriguez, Rizal on Saturday.
More than two dozen countries led by Iceland on Thursday filed a draft resolution with the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva asking the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a comprehensive report on the human rights situation in the country, while urging the Philippine government to cooperate with the High Commissioner and UN experts.
The resolution also called on the Philippines to stop extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, carry out impartial investigations and hold perpetrators accountable.
The government has continuously denied extrajudicial killings, claiming its law enforcers have also died as a result of the drug war.
The Philippine National Police counted 50 policemen killed under the current administration while PDEA put their casualty at 8.
Friday’s event at PDEA was the launch of a scholarship program for surviving children of PDEA personnel who have either been killed in action or permanently incapacitated because of their work.
Arellano University undertook to provide the children free education in its 7 campuses within Metro Manila while offering free legal education to PDEA personnel.