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President Duterte won the May elections in a landslide on a vow to wage war against illegal drugs and rid the country of criminals.
Six months since his inauguration as the 16th President of the Republic, Malacañang listed the surrender of more than one million drug personalities as among the most compelling results of Duterte’s commitment to give the people a safe and secure environment.
Based on a year-end accomplishment report released by Malacañang on Friday, a total of 1,003,118 drug personalities have surrendered to authorities from July 1 to Dec. 30 under “Project Tokhang.”
“Tokhang” was coined from two Cebuano words “toktok” which means “knock knock” and “hangyo” meaning beseech.
Of the total number of surrenderees, 92.54 percent or 928,248 were users and 7.46 percent or 74,870 were pushers.
Among those who have voluntarily appeared before authorities were high-value targets, including mayors, vice mayors, city and municipal councilors, local drug lords, and even law enforcers.
The report also states that 5,868,932 houses of suspected drug personalities were visited during the period to encourage those believed involved in illegal narcotics to surrender for rehabilitation.
Likewise, a total of 40,284 anti-narcotics operations were conducted nationwide that resulted in the arrest of 42,978 drug pushers and users.
Aside from the arrests, Duterte’s controversial war on drugs also saw the bloody end of 2,166 drug personalities who chose to fight it out with authorities instead of giving themselves up.
The figure does not include the over 3,000 cases of alleged extra-judicial killings (EJKs) or those who turn up dead, some of them wrapped in plastic and bearing a placard that says “pusher ito, ‘wag tularan”.
These vigilante-type of killings, which made the president’s war on drugs hog the headlines here and abroad, earned the Duterte administration criticisms locally and internationally. It was also among the reasons for the souring of the longstanding Philippines-United States (US) relationship.
But Duterte remains unfazed and responded to criticisms with a series of tirades against human rights advocates, the US, the United Nations (UN), and European Union (EU).
He had repeatedly insisted too that the EJKs are not state sanctioned.
Meanwhile, the Malacañang report also mentioned the deployment in July of Philippine National Police (PNP) Special Action Force (SAF) troopers to replace security personnel at the New Bilibid Prisons (NBP) in Muntinlupa City which was found to be a major hub of massive illegal drug trade
And of end of 2016, a total of P1.266 Billion worth of illegal drugs broken down as P933.304 million- shabu, P314.719 million- cocaine, and P17.046 million- ecstacy have been seized by the Bureau of Customs (BoC).
The Department of National Defense (DND), for its part, said that the just within the Duterte administration’s first 100 days, the government has already taken hold of drug and non-drug evidence amounting to P8.21 billion, exceeding the value of drug seizures in the last five years.
Duterte in series of television interviews this week stressed that he will vigorously pursue the campaign against illegal drugs up to the last day of his term.
The president characterized the drug problem in the country as having reached the level of narco-politics noting that government officials-positions from local to the national, as well as institutions like the police and military have been coopted by the drug cartel.
Malacañang officials said that exposing the drug menace has now led the government to look at it not only as a national security but also now as a public health issue, hence, the building of rehab programs all over the nation.
Presidential spokesperson Martin Andanar notes that Duterte assumed the presidency on June 30, 2016 on the crest of a popular wave of genuine change and high optimism.
In just half a year, he said, the nation has already witnessed drastic changes in public governance characterized by courageous and compassionate leadership and constant performance.
Aside from his unprecedented anti-drug war, Andanar notes that the president also charted a new course in international relations with his pursuit of an independent foreign policy which means moving strongly and swiftly towards regional economic rebalancing for closer integration. The Philippines has forged closer ties with ASEAN, China, Japan and Russia. (ELENA ABEN)