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Magalong: Drug war stats can’t measure its success

The impact of the drug war on communities cannot be measured by statistics, Baguio City Mayor and former police officer Benjamin Magalong said Tuesday.

Magalong, a former head of the Philippine National Police’s Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management (DIDM), was responding to the comments made by Vice President Leni Robredo in her 40-page report as co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD).

In her report, she described drug war as a failure since only 1% of illegal drugs and drug trade money have been seized by authorities on a yearly basis based on estimates made by the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.

“Opinyon niya ‘yan eh. You will only know your impact pag bumaba ka at nakausap mo ang mga tao na nakaramdam na safe and secure na sila ngayon. Sa amin, as far as we are concerned, significant ang improvement. As Mayor of the City of Baguio, I felt it. Hindi statistics ang pagbabatayan mo diyan eh,” Magalong said at the sidelines of a forum on reducing carbon footprint in urbanized cities hosted by the Department of Transportation and the United Nations Development Program.

“I was talking to [communities in the] grassroots, [at] very significant ang impact sa aming security at safety. Maybe that is the reason why napakataas ng rating ng ating Presidente,” Magalong added, referring to high approval and trust ratings of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Magalong, however, did not comment on Robredo’s conclusions that the government’s drug war focused too much on street-level enforcement of anti-drug initiatives, leaving big-time drug syndicates thriving as shown by the non-reduction of the illegal drug supply in the country.

“Hindi ko kasi alam ang basis ng data niya eh, kaya ayaw ko mag-comment,” Magalong said.

“Hindi ko alam paano iyong gathering or collection of data, so I am not in the authority to respond to the statement,” hr added.

Robredo said that based on estimates by the police, there are 3,000 kilograms of shabu consumed every week worth for the last three years.

Robredo, citing data from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, stressed that the PDEA only nabbed less than 1% of the police's own estimates of shabu circulating in the country (1,051 kg out of 156,000 kg in 2017; 785.31 kg out of 156,000 kg in 2018; and 1,344.87 kg out of 156,000 kg in 2019).

The Anti-Money Laundering Council, on the other hand, was able to freeze P1.4 billion worth of drug money as of February 2019, the latest available government data.

Government records cited by Robredo also revealed that over 6,700 drug suspects have been killed in the police’s drug war since July 2016, but this figure does not include those drug war deaths perpetrated by unidentified gunmen. — BM, GMA News