Two years into the government’s campaign against illegal drugs, the Philippine National Police (PNP) admitted that only 18 percent of around 1.2 million drug surrenderers have successfully finished government rehabilitation programs.
Under the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Acts of 2002 (Republic Act No. 9165), a drug dependent may voluntary submit himself to authorities for treatment and rehabilitation for a minimum period of six months.
The PNP’s Oplan Tokhang in 2016 led to a bloated number of drug surrenderers in the first months of the drug war, but PNP spokesperson Senior Supt. Benigno Durana said that around a million of them would still have to undergo community-based drug rehabilitation programs.
In a forum with journalists and members of the academe held in Quezon City on Friday, Durana said that the “body count” – or the number of deaths related to police antidrug operations – was not a good way to measure the impact of the war on drugs.
According to Durana, the PNP is “continuously developing” the campaign against illegal drugs, which also calls for crafting and implementing recovery and wellness programs for drug users.
But the spokesperson said local government units and the civil society would also have to play big role in institutionalizing such activities.
“Local government units also have to realize that law enforcement is not the solution to the problem on the war on drugs,” Durana said. “This is not a law enforcement problem, but the problem of the entire Filipino people. A lot more still needs to be done.”
He urged local government units and civil society organizations to help the PNP in advocating for rehabilitation programs and other institutional measures to ensure the reform of drug dependents.
During the forum, an independent study conducted by the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) also pointed out the staggering difference between the deaths resulting from anti-drug operations conducted by the PNP and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).
As recorded by CMFR, the PNP’s conduct of the first phase of the drug war resulted in more than 2,500 deaths.
But when PDEA took over the campaign on Oct. 17, 2017, the CMFR recorded only nine deaths resulting from antidrug operations.
But Durana dismissed the figures as “a matter of personnel size,” noting that since the police force far outnumbered PDEA, the number of killings in police operations would naturally be higher.
Durano also clarified that the 26,000 recorded homicide cases under investigation (HCUIs) did not represent the total number of drug war-related deaths.
Journalists pointed out that that the change of terms in PNP drug war reports – from extrajudicial killings to deaths under investigation and HCUIs – has brought confusion in media reporting and public understanding about the real figures in the drug war. /atm
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