MANILA — The Philippines' anti-narcotics board said Monday that the decrease in the number of illegal drugs users in the country to just 1.67 million shows that the Duterte administration's campaign is succeeding.
A random survey conducted by the Dangerous Drugs Board from December 2019 to February 2020 revealed the latest figure, which is fewer than the initial estimate of "4 to 8 million" at the onset of President Rodrigo Duterte's term in 2016.
"It shows na yung ating campaign is gaining grounds among the people," DDB chairman Catalino Cuy told ABS-CBN News.
The survey covered more than 9,000 respondents aged 10 to 69 years old.
Duterte disclosed the result last month and advised parents to always supervise their children to prevent them from going astray and start using illegal drugs.
"We are still in the thick of the fight against shabu," Duterte said on Oct. 19.
The DDB survey also showed about 5 out of 10 Filipinos "strongly agree" with the government’s anti-drugs campaign.
In the same survey, the DDB found that more than 4 million Filipinos have tried dangerous drugs and substances at least once in their lifetime.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) was also said to be among the top three "most helpful to people who use dangerous drugs," with "household" as the top choice, the survey results showed.
"Despite the criticism naririnig natin sa PNP, still the community at large, it is still the police among the most trusted entity na makakatulong sa drug dependents," Cuy said.
Local and international watchdogs have claimed that the PNP’s flagship program in the war against illegal drugs dubbed "Oplan Double Barrel" committed extrajudicial killings. The PNP has denied the allegation.
According to official data from the PDEA, 5,903 persons have died during anti-drugs operations from July 1, 2016 until Sept. 30 this year.
The UN Human Rights Commission, however, said 8,663 were killed since Duterte assumed office. Other human rights groups estimate the figure to be higher.
In 2017, Duterte said there are about 4 to 8 million drug dependents in the country, without citing clear data.