IN a report from her 18-day stint as co-chairman of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD), Vice President Maria Leonor Robredo has concluded that President Duterte’s key program, his war on illegal drugs, was a “massive failure.”
It seems though that, based on one of her main arguments for that, she has demonstrated a massive failure of mind.
Robredo claimed in her report: “More than 1.2 million users had surrendered since 2016, while 300,000 had been arrested in police operations, for a total of 1.5 million. If we use the 4 million estimate of drug users and pushers, and only 1.5 million had been accounted for, where are the 2.5 million?”
That the 1.5 million had been “accounted for” means that number of addicts and pushers has been taken out of the population involved in illegal drugs. While there would definitely be backsliders, it is very reasonable to assume that most of these have stopped being addicts and therefore users, and sellers of illegal drugs.
That means approximately a 38 percent reduction in our illegal-drugs world. To use Duterte’s metaphor of war, that means that more than one-fourth of the battlefield has been won by the Duterte administration.
That’s certainly not bad at all. The past Yellow regime in its six years of power had allowed it to prosper. Why, its Justice secretary, Leila de Lima, according to the government charges against her, even protected the drug lords, and allowed its prison to be the nerve center of the trade. After decades of fighting it, other countries with similar scourges — Mexico is a prime example — have seen it even worsen, giving rise to that term “narco state,” or governments controlled by the drug lords.
Yet Robredo claims that she’d give this administration a success grade of 1 percent.
Isn’t that such a massive failure of Robredo’s mind, that she can’t even accept the consequences of the data she presents, and instead asks a rather stupid question, “Where are the 2.5 million?”
That 2.5 million are still out there for chrissakes, which makes the anti-drug war, even an energized one I think, necessary in the remaining few years of Duterte’s presidency. In fact, no one in this administration, even Duterte, has claimed that the anti-drug war is close to being won. Why, in one speech Duterte expressed frustration that the war against drugs isn’t winning at a pace he had initially expected it to.
There are indeed worrying signs. My sources in the police on the municipal level claim that because of the massive propaganda over the police’s alleged “extrajudicial killings,” ordinary policemen and precinct officials haven’t been as keen as in the first years when Duterte launched his campaign, in undertaking “tokhang” operations, where policemen to drug suspects’ residences and tell them to reform their ways.
“The drug lords have played it safe, and instead of actively selling their wares, have kept the supply in safe places, to be released when they see Duterte’s will has weakened,” one police officer said.
Robredo’s claim that Duterte’s anti-drug war has been a massive failure starkly contrasts with Filipinos’ massive approval of the campaign, going by the polls conducted by both the Social Weather Stations (SWS) and Pulse Asia.
The SW reported that since its first September 2016 poll to the latest September 2019 survey, 84 to the latest 79 percent of Filipinos have been satisfied with Duterte’s anti-drug campaign. Pulse Asia’s survey on the topic was in 2017, when it found an 88 percent support it. There hasn’t been been such a level of support for any government program in any administration.
Polls of course don’t always reflect reality. However, the fact that there is such massive support for the anti-drug campaign when newspapers mostly have focused on the alleged summary killings of drug suspects logically means that Filipinos have experienced its success on the ground that they support it.
According to the September 2019 SWS poll, 42 percent of Filipinos said they were satisfied with the campaign because “drug suspects have lessened,” an increase from the 35 percent who thought so.
Significantly, 11 percent of respondents reported that they were satisfied with the anti-drug campaign as it “lessened crime in their areas.”
So it’s either Robredo has such an omniscient mind that she claims that Duterte’s anti-drug war has been a massive failure, and that eight out of 10 Filipinos who think it is successful are deluded. Or this vice president is out of her mind, and out of touch with reality.