The fact that the drug cartels still exist does not mean that the war on drugs has failed, it means that the extent of the illegal drug problem is “monstrously enormous”, Malacañang said on Thursday.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo disputed the claim of Vice President Leni Robredo that the campaign against illegal drugs has failed because “it targeted the poor rather than big drug networks.”
He, however, said the reason why the illegal drug problem has worsened is because of the neglect and failure by past administrations to arrest or curb it.
He said it is only during the Duterte administration where they took the crackdown on illegal drugs seriously.
Panelo said Robredo’s remarks did not have factual basis and that she was merely repeating what her colleagues in the political opposition have said in the past.
“With all due respect to the office she holds, the VP’s latest remarks are unquestionably bereft of factual basis and devoid of recognition of the successes that the war on illegal drugs has reaped,” Panelo said in a statement.
“She may not realize it but she is echoing the lies and black propaganda of some of her colleagues in the political opposition, which to say the least is unfortunate, especially since she was part of the Cabinet when the government’s program against the drug menace was launched,” he added.
In an interview with Reuters, Robredo said the “thousands of people killed were already too many, with no evidence of a decline in drug supply or usage.”
Drug war accomplishments
Contrary to Robredo’s commentary, Panelo said the drug war has been successful in convincing more than one million drug personalities to voluntarily surrender since the start of the anti-drug campaign in 2016.
Under the drug war, he said there have also been close to half a million who underwent recovery, rehabilitation and wellness programs.
There have also been more than 42,000 barangays (villages) which have been cleared of drugs and more than PHP35 billion of drugs, chemicals and laboratory equipment have been seized and dismantled, he added.
Panelo said more than a hundred police scalawags, and less than 5,000 drug lords and pushers involved in illegal drugs, who have resisted arrest in buy-bust operations, have been killed.
The Palace official said Robredo also ignored that than eight out of 10 Filipinos, or 82 percent have expressed satisfaction with the drug war, quoting a recent Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey.
“It is a continuing wonderment why VP Leni has ignored the fact that the majority of our people have recognized and have given their thumbs-up to the policy of the Chief Executive on this issue,” Panelo said.
‘Better off without them’
Panelo urged Robredo to listen to the Filipino people instead of relying on critics and detractors whose false narratives against the drug war have been repudiated by a majority of Filipinos.
“We can only hope that VP Robredo do more active consultation with her Filipino constituencies instead of totally relying on the insights given by her advisers whose ideas contradict the realities on the ground,” Panelo said.
“She is better off without them. She should rely more on her motherly instincts and gut-feel as a lawyer,” he added.
Panelo denied that Palace is “intolerant” of criticisms, saying it welcomed constructive criticism but it should be “based on facts and the law.”
He said he considered criticism not based on facts as an “abuse of the freedom of speech and of expression, and unproductive to the mature evolution of a democratic society and a hindrance to its progress.” (PNA)