01/07/2020, 15.47
PHILIPPINES
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Vice President says Duterte's war on drugs is a huge ‘failure'

Leni Robredo is a long-standing adversary of the controversial head of state. In a 40-page report, she lays out the findings she made during the 18 days she co-chaired the country’s top anti-drug committee. The government’s controversial campaign has not slowed down the consumption of methamphetamine.

Manila (AsiaNews/Agencies) – President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs is a “failure”, not only because it has caused thousands of deaths, but also because only 1 per cent of the total supply of illegal drugs in the country has been seized, this according to Vice President of the Philippines Leni Robredo (pictured).

At a press conference yesterday, Ms Robredo released a 40-page report on the president’s policy to rid the country of the scourge of drug addiction. In her presentation, she did not mince words.

Ms Robredo has been a long-standing adversary of the controversial head of state. In the Philippines, the president and the vice president are elected separately and most often belong to separate parties.

Back in November, Duterte appointed the 54-year-old Liberal Party leader as co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD), only to fire her 18 days later saying he could not trust her.

In her report, the vice president not only looks at the situation but also provides some recommendations for improving the anti-drug campaign.

Based on official data from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), the report notes that drug addicts drug addicts consume 3,000 kilos of Shabu (methamphetamine) per week across the country, for about 156,000 kilos every year. However, in the first ten months of 2019, the PDEA was able to seize only 1,344 kilos of the substance. In 2018, it recovered 785 kilos, while the number was 1,053 kilos in 2017.

The Duterte administration also performed poorly in repossessing drug money. Citing data from the Philippines National Police (PNP), Robredo said the annual Shabu consumption is equivalent to P1.3 trillion (US$ 25.5 billion) a year. But the Anti-Money Laundering Council was only able to seize only P1.4 billion (US$ 27.5 million) worth of drug money in 2017 and 2018.

Lastly, the vice president calls for an end to Operation Oplan Tokhang, which is centred on police raiding suspects' homes. For many Filipinos, these have become synonymous with extrajudicial killings as many drug addicts and traffickers on the police checklists die during this kind of action.

According to the latest official figures, more than 6,600 people have died in such operations. According to media and human rights groups, the number of victims is actually between 27,000 and 30,000, taking into accounts the killings by vigilantes.

The Catholic Church has been one of the few voices denouncing Duterte's violent war on drugs. In response to the criticism of extrajudicial killings, Duterte has repeatedly launched harsh attacks against bishops and priests.

Last July, the Church welcomed the United Nations’ decision to launch an inquiry into the thousands of deaths. Auxiliary archbishop Broderick Pabillo of Manila said the investigation will help put an end to extrajudicial killings and ensure justice for victims and their families.

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