PDEA defends drug war ahead of US probe

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 19 2017 10:54 AM | Updated as of Jul 20 2017 10:26 AM

PDEA defends drug war ahead of US probe 1
Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) operatives stand on guard near confiscated illegal drugs before destroying them through thermal decomposition in Cavite, early February. Romeo Ranoco, Reuters

Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency chief Isidro Lapeña on Wednesday defended the actions of the Duterte administration ahead of a US congressional body hearing on the human rights consequences of the Philippines' war on drugs.

Speaking to ANC, Lapeña said there has been a significant increase in the number of drug personalities arrested.

PDEA operations have neutralized 86,984 drug suspects, including alleged bigtime suppliers like Meko Tan, Lovely Impal and former Maguing, Lanao del Norte Mayor Johaira Macabuat.

Lapeña said the arrests "made a big dent" on the drug industry, as evident in how several shabu laboratories were recently abandoned.

"Iyung mga shabu laboratories that have been discovered and dismantled recently have been abandoned. Ibig sabihin niyan ang mga dating nagma-manufacture ng shabu dito sa Pilipinas... they have stopped producing in the country," he said.

Under the government's war on drugs, the PDEA conducted 64,397 operations that seized P18.52 billion worth of narcotics in the past year.

This is almost thrice the amount confiscated in the previous year, Lapeña said.

The PDEA chief said the first year of crackdown on narcotics under President Rodrigo Duterte has instilled fear in the country's once powerful drug syndicates.

"We have a courageous President and he's taking the lead. We now have the situation that the government is calling the shot(s). It's not the drug syndicates calling the shot(s). Before, drug syndicates were the ones who did the intimidation. But now, they should be afraid because they are violating the law," he said.

OUTCRY OVER BLOODBATH

Rights monitors however have raised concern on the deaths of thousands of drug suspects in the government's campaign.

Official data from the Philippine National Police pegged the total number of homicide cases at 9,432 from July 2016 to March 2017.

Of this number, 1,847 deaths were said to be drug-related, while 1,894 were not. The remaining 5,691 cases, approximately 60 percent of the total figure, were still under investigation.

Lapeña maintained that the government's drug efforts were "done by the law."

The PDEA chief also offered to bare government records to the
Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, which is set to analyze the implementation of Duterte administration's war on drugs.

"We do not tolerate violations of human rights. Our records will show na ganyan, even sa Philippine National Police. We can show them our records," he said.