WITH only around eight weeks to go before President Duterte officially leaves the Palace, I join the majority who still believes that his war on drugs made them much safer in the streets and the confines of their homes since 2016.
I have been speaking with all kinds of wage-earners especially market vendors, public transport drivers, construction and factory workers, mall employees and the like and they all have interesting stories about how the government scared the wits out of known drug personalities in their neighborhood.
Two tricycle drivers from a heavily-populated area near our house in Antipolo City told me that all known drug dealers and users in their community were either arrested by the police or abandoned their homes when the police force launched its vaunted anti-drug campaign.
A department store bagger confided to me that he feels much safer nowadays compared to the days, months and years before the arrival of the fighting former Davao City mayor. A mall sales clerk on the other hand told me that she is not afraid anymore of walking on her way home to Quezon City and sleeping alone in her rented room since she feels much confident and safer now.
I have come upon similar testimonies each time I talk with ordinary Pinoys, the same people who are expecting a continuation of the Duterte’s war on drugs by the incoming administration but with a different strategy, one that will particularly focus on the demand reduction side while going all-out after drug smugglers, manufacturers and distributors.
I love talking with our daily wage earners since they represent the majority of the ordinary Pinoys and very much unlike the rich and the middle-class who mostly live in gated and heavily-guarded exclusive subdivisions and sleep in the confines of their air-conditioned rooms and go to work on board chauffeured cars or their SUVs.
For me, these poor Filipinos really knows the ground situation, the real things taking place in their communities as they commute every working day since they or their relatives or friends are usually the ones being targeted by street criminals in the past.
Let me cite the government accomplishments in the campaign against illegal drug trafficking and abuse since 2016 as mentioned in the latest RealNumbersPH report released by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency headed by Director General Wilkins Villanueva. The PDEA is getting full support from the PNP headed by Gen. Dionards Carlos in its anti-drug campaign.
The report said that nearly 11.8 tons of shabu worth P76.17 billion have been seized by Duterte government agents from July 1, 2016 to last March 31. Records showed that during the period, authorities conducted 233,356 anti-illegal drug operations which led in the arrest of 336,796 suspects
A total of 6,241 armed suspects also died during those anti-drug operations, majority of them in shootouts with undercover officers. What the report failed to mention is the number of government agents who have died while going after armed drug personalities since 2016, the latest of them Patrolman Domino Miñano of the PNP Drug Enforcement Group who was shot to death while on a surveillance mission in Mandaluyong City on Thursday last week. My prayers for the soul of another fallen officer, killed in real line of duty.
During the period in review, a total of P88.83 billion worth of shabu, its chemical precursors and other essential elements and laboratory equipment as well as cocaine, Ecstasy and marijuana leaves were confiscated, majority of them destroyed already. I just can’t imagine how many poor lives could have been lost if the government failed to account for those substances.
Villanueva said that apart from the huge volume of shabu otherwise known as the ‘poor man’s cocaine,’ also hauled by the government during the period were 530.24 kilos of cocaine; 163,295 pieces of Ecstasy tablets and pills and over 10 tons of cannabis plants, seedling and bricks.
The PDEA chief said that a total of 1,111 secret drug dens and 19 clandestine shabu laboratories were also dismantled by the government authorities during the period. He added that a total of 14,888 ‘high-value targets’ were also arrested during the past five years and nine months.
They include 360 foreign nationals, 400 elected officials, 126 uniformed personnel, 527 government employees, 4,030 ‘target-listed personalities,’ 797 drug group leaders/members, 78 armed group members, 1,619 drug den maintainers, 295 wanted-listed personalities and 24 celebrities/Professional Regulations Commission license holders.
Also arrested as a result of ‘high-impact operations’ during the period were 6,632 suspects. Overall, Villanueva said that 1,053 government workers were arrested for their involvement in illegal drug activities since 2016. That means there are a total of 1,503 rogues in government service who are now in jail, or facing criminal and administrative charges that will effectively prevent them from using their position to perpetrate their crimes.
So far, the government has already destroyed 8,176.81 kilograms of confiscated shabu, nearly 4.226 tons of marijuana, 21.93 kilograms of Ecstasy, 534.20 kilos of cocaine and 3.483 kilograms of other prohibited drugs, the official said.
The government’s war on drugs since 2016 also led in the rescue of 4,307 children involved in illegal drug activities, Villanueva said. They include 987 minors who were found in possession of dangerous drugs, 2,532 for drug pushing activities, 2 for acting as ‘runners’ of syndicates, 522 for drug use, 1 for acting as an employee of a raided drug den, 3 for involvement in marijuana cultivation, 234 for visiting a drug den, 9 from being drug den maintainers and 17 for acting as drug dive employees.
Since 2016, the government has also declared 24,766 barangays as already ‘drug-cleared’ with 10,704 yet to be cleared based on parameters set by the Dangerous Drugs Board and the PDEA. Another 6,575 barangays have been considered as ‘drug unaffected/drug-free.’
These are the real records which I believe have played a really significant role in the massive reduction in the so-called ‘Eight Focus Crimes’ in the country since 2016. Although there are also other factors that led to the significant decrease in index crimes during the period, we can’t erase the fact that the PNP and PDEA’s relentless anti-illegal drug operations and their drive to put a stop to the illegal drug trade really played a pivotal role in the reduced crime volume.
As former PNP chief and now senatorial candidate Gilor Eleazar had said: “Maraming alegasyon, batikos o kritisismo ang ipinupukol sa Pangulong Duterte but if we are to look at the peace and order situation in the whole country which is our barometer, napakalaki ng ikinabuti at ikinaganda nito at mismong ang ating mga kababayan ay nararamdaman ang pagbabago.”
The fact will remain that the major reduction in street crimes specifically murder, homicide, rape, physical injury, robbery, theft and motor vehicle and motorcycle theft since 2016 are very clear indications that the strategies to prevent and fight crime implemented by the police force now under Gen. Carlos really worked well.
“Our barometer as always will be the peace and order situation, the index crimes recorded during the first five years of the two previous administration compared to the index crimes recorded during the first five years of the Duterte administration,” Eleazar said last year. For me, that would be a real understatement. Just ask our poor countrymen.