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Duterte drug war a ‘massive failure,’ says VP Robredo

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MANILA (Philippine Daily Inquirer) — The Duterte administration’s war on illegal drugs is a failure, with the government barely making a dent on the country’s narcotics problem despite a relentless campaign over the past three years, Vice President Leni Robredo said on Monday.

Philippine Vice President Leni Robredo delivers her statement in Quezon City, Metro Manila on Monday.  AP

Citing data from government agencies, Robredo said the authorities had seized only less than 1 percent of the total estimated consumption of “shabu,” or crystal meth, throughout the campaign.

Likewise, only less than 1 percent of drug money had been frozen by the government, out of the trillions of pesos that allegedly stemmed and circulated from the narcotics trade.

The measly achievement is part of the Vice president’s report on her stint as cochair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs, which lasted for only 18 days because President Rodrigo Duterte sacked her for alleged incompetence.

Human rights groups, which have denounced the brutal campaign, lauded Robredo and her report, which called for a humane approach to the drug problem.

More than 6,000 people have been killed in police operations since Duterte launched his war on drugs after assuming office in 2016.

The killings have drawn international condemnation, leading to the filing of information for crimes against humanity against Duterte and 11 of his officials in the International Criminal Court.

Duterte and his allies have denounced human rights groups for criticizing the program, claiming significant gains in the battle against illegal drugs.

But data from the government itself clearly show that curbing the supply of illegal drugs has been a “massive failure,” Robredo said.

“It’s very clear that based on the official data, in spite of all the Filipinos killed and all the money spent, not more than 1 percent had been constricted from the supply of shabu and money earned from the drug trade,” she said.

“If this were an exam,” she added, “the government’s score would be 1 over 100.”

The administration said Robredo’s report was a “dud.”

“When she was threatening [to release] this report, she implied that she discovered some irregularities akin to a bomb exploding. It’s a dud,” presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo told reporters.

“She didn’t say anything new. There’s nothing new in what she said,” he added.

Panelo dismissed Robredo’s conclusion that the drug war was a failure, saying, “I think the real failure was her assumption [of the post of cochair of the interagency panel on illegal drugs].”

“How can you say it’s a failure? It was not totally eradicated because there are drugs coming in, but we can still block those drugs. That’s why President Duterte is relentless,” he said.

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