• Drug agency and drugs board owe us a fact sheet on the drug problem



    First Read
    How different national and international perceptions would be if the Senate inquiry into the war on drugs had started by asking our drug agencies for a ‘fact sheet’ on the national drug problem and the national drug control policy! Then none of us would be wondering whether President Duterte is just pulling from thin air all his scare stories and statistics on the drug menace. Then we could see some justification at least for the police policy of shooting first and counting later.

    With all respect to our womenfolk, I think Sen. Leila de Lima, despite being a former justice secretary, is too much of a congressional maiden to be leading the Senate inquiry into the administration’s war on drugs.

    According to expert probers and Senate veterans, the first focus of the inquiry should have been to establish a clear picture of the drug problem in the country, instead of rushing to highlight or dramatize the casualties of the drug war and the anguish of their families.

    The people who would know the drug problem best are the top officials of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB). PDEA is tasked with enforcing our prohibitionist drug policy, while DDB sets broad policy in the government’s campaign against illegal drugs.

    Sen. de Lima invited PDEA Director General Isidro Lapena to the hearing, but she noticeably forgot the chairman of the drugs board, Mr. Felipe Rojas, Jr.

    Guest list of amateurs
    And yet, the senator invited all the commissioners of the human rights commission, even some of its field officers.

    She also invited the chairs of various civil society groups concerned with human rights issues, and the human rights centers of UP, Ateneo and La Salle.

    To ensure publicity and coverage, she invited top representatives of ABS-CBN, GMA TV and the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

    My point is this: Sen. Leila looked nearly everywhere for resource persons, except in the two agencies whose main business is to know the state and scope of the country’s real drug problem.

    Her experts were self-styled human rights busy bodies, not people knowledgeable about the drug problem.

    PH experts on drug problem
    The president of the association of mother superiors, who was invited by Sen. de lima to the hearing, cannot possibly know more about the drug menace than the heads of PDEA and DDB, whose work has been focused on drug control for many years now. Drugs are the reason they hold these positions in government.

    It is to them that we must turn first for information and an understanding of the so-called menace that is taking so many lives in our country.

    These officials owe the nation, at the minimum, an authoritative fact sheet on the drug problem facing us today. To give them their due, here are briefs on their professional backgrounds and government service.

    Mr. Isidro Lapena is the fifth director general of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA). He graduated in the Philippine Military Academy as a member of the Class of 1973.

    Mr. Felipe L. Rojas, Jr. is the chairman of the Dangerous Drugs Board. A retired police deputy director general, he graduated from the Philippine Military Academy in1981.

    The question is: do their offices keep up-to-date and coherent data and statistics on the Philippine illegal drug situation? What is their role, if any, in the administration’s war on drugs?

    So to repeat, we need from these two agencies a fact sheet on the drug problem.

    How serious is the drug problem?
    I decided to write this column after reading recently a striking article in the online media website, Rappler.com, which sought to answer the question, “How serious is the Philippine drug problem?”

    The authors are a group of graduate students from the University of the Philippines.

    Their key findings are revealing:
    1) In his first State of the Nation Address, President Rodrigo Duterte said that, based on data from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), there were about “3 million drug addicts” in the country, two or three years ago, and possibly higher at 3.7 million now.

    2) A closer look shows that relevant drug law agencies came up with much lower official statistics in recent years

    In 2008, a survey conducted by the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) estimated a much lower figure of 1.7 million drug users nationwide (1.9 percent of the 2008 population). In 2012, the DDB, in cooperation with the Philippine Normal University, came up with a separate study that put the figure to be even lower at 1.3 million (1.3 percent of the 2012 population).

    The DDB attributed this steep decline to supply and demand reduction efforts, like “intensified operations” of drug law enforcement agencies and “drug demand reduction programs.”

    The DDB is set to release soon its latest estimates of drug use for 2015, which can serve as a good benchmark for assessing the administration’s drug war.

    The research offers a thoughtful conclusion: “As the momentum of the current drug war increases, let’s all keep in mind why we are doing it in the first place: to reduce the prevalence of drug use….

    “Policymaking around the world is becoming increasingly evidence-based. The same should apply to the country’s current drug policy. Here’s hoping that the statistics on drug use play a more prominent role in future discussions and evaluations of the intensifying drug war.”

    A user is a pusher     
    I studied this research report alongside the disclosures of Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Ronald dela Rosa at the Senate inquiry last week.

    The general disclosed that 1,946 people have died in the government’s war on drugs.

    He said police have shot dead 756 suspects in self-defense.

    He said, separately, there are 1,190 deaths under investigation, but added they are likely due to drug gangs’ killings of people who could implicate them in illegal drug trade cases.

    Last Sunday, Malacañang, through Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, declared that with hundreds of thousands of individuals surrendering to authorities for admitted drug use, the administration’s campaign against illegal drugs is a success.

    Data from the PNP shows that nearly 600,000 drug users have surrendered to the authorities.

    Why are drug users surrendering? Is drug addiction considered a crime today?

    I got a blunt answer from President Duterte yesterday during his speech at the commemoration of National Heroes Day:

    He declared: “A user is a pusher.”

    It rhymes, and it is scary.



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    1. Melvin G Jaleco on

      It is a Clear and Present Danger, and there is no better means to eradicate or take out a tumor in our society than to kill it! numbers are being fudge, no one knows the real numbers of those hook on this poison, but we all know that is is already a pandemic and a threat to the very core of our society and our future as a nation.

    2. Drugs are the scourge of the world & somehow they have to be stopped. Treating them in hospitals will only help a few, most will continue with drugs for life. People want drugs & once hooked on them will not give them up. Then they also sell them as they know others who want them & it means they get their drugs cheaper or even free. I personally have no problem with the killing of this evil, have an all out war on drugs so its sorted very quickly, but if it does get sorted then do not let complacency set in or it will return with a vengeance.

    3. Ignacio Balbutin on

      You are still lacking in reasoning and logic with your questions and statistics. Don’t you know that every drug addicts are potential robber, rapist and killers? How many innocent people even children are being victims to drug addicts. Are you reading the news? One child who was wearing a boy scout uniform was fatally stabbed several times by his uncle because he thought the child was a police. How many people were robbed, raped and killed by drug addicts. How many officials now even police generals were under investigations because they were drug lords. Its truly scary that even soldiers and police were tested positive of drugs. Don’t you know how dangerous is a police addict? Thank God we have a president who is bent on cleaning our streets of criminals, drug addicts and even cleaning our country of corruption which is deeply embedded on our society. Thank God that we are seeing now beautiful changes happening in our beloved country

      • Ang layo ng komento mo sa isinulat ng author. Basahin maigi ang kanyang isinulat bago ka magkomento. Ano yang sinasabi mong “lacking in reasoning and logic”?

    4. Mr. Makabenta, your research task: Ask the drug lords their total drug production and profit and their drug trade matrix including inside and outside this country.

    5. Drug addiction and dependency is classified as a brain disorder and must be addressed as a public health issue. The illegal drug trade ( manufacturing and distribution ) is definitely a law enforcement and justice system issues.President President Duterte need to address both issues to reduce use and abuse of illegal drugs and run after the manufacturers and distributors of illegal drugs.

      The biggest challenge to control of the manufacture of distribution illegal drugs is that it can easily corrupt law enforcement and the justice system due to the huge amount of money it generates. It also corrupts the political system ( narco politics) as experienced in other countries. It definitely raised millions of campaign funds in the last election to fund some politicians who are currently serving as elected officials.

      The anti-drug campaign of President Duterte need to address prevention programs at the K-12 level and the out of school youth, expanded residential and outpatient treatment services, recovery/after care program. These programs must be integrated into the Dept. of Health services at the Barangay level. The Law Enforcement Agencies are key part of addressing the illegal drug issues in collaboration with the public health and juctice system.

    6. Until recently I did not know meth was legal in Brazil. The documentary explains how their dose of meth gives an 8 sec high that makes the user want for more. I guess legal meth did not help the Brazilians as a news report had 600 people killed on a single day in Rio’s notorious favelas (slums). I myself have seen shabu since 1986 and 30 years later its popularity has grown exponentially. Using the “7” rule of money growth which states ordinary compounding of interests will double your money every 7 years, we can imagine how much wealth the drug trade has created for its peddlers. That wealth is now being used to thwart DU30’s anti-drug campaign. And we can clearly see the resistance. BTW, meth addicts from Rio report the biggest effect of meth on the body is it takes away your focus from anything else. They describe it as “Slow Death”. I guess our local users will know and agree.