MANILA, Philippines — With just a year left in the term of President Rodrigo Duterte, crystal methamphetamines are still behind the most arrest and treatment admissions in the Philippines, an international drug report found.
The latest report of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime on synthetic drugs in Southeast Asia also found that admissions related to methamphetamines, colloquially known as shabu, decreased by more than half due to quarantine restrictions and the suspension of rehabilitation efforts.
Besides seizures and admissions, the price and quality of shabu in the country also reportedly went down over the past two years.
Citing official communication with the DDB and PDEA, the UNODC also found that the purity of shabu went from 67.99% to 58.29% in 2020.
Consequently, pricing, too, fell from 136 USD to just 130.8 last year.
As it currently stands, official police figures acknowledge at least 6,117 deaths in anti-drug operations as of April 30. Police leadership earlier claimed the number was as high as 8,000 but later took this back. However, rights groups both here and abroad say the real number may be as high as 30,000.
International rights groups have already pointed out that the drug-related killings in the country increased amid quarantine restrictions. The New York-based Human Rights Watch said that this was because drug killings were harder to document with the general public indoors.
Even aggregated numbers officially released by the government’s anti-drug agencies have shown that police killed 50% more people in the first months of the quarantine compared to the same period pre-pandemic.
War on drugs a failure?
With just a year to go, both critics and pro-administration officials alike have questioned the progress of the administration’s flagship war on drugs.
The president’s landslide win to the presidency was founded on, among other things, ambitious promises of ending drugs and criminality within the first six months of his term. He later asked for an extension that he also later failed to meet.
Earlier in February of this year, Sen. Panfilo Lacson went as far as calling the campaign on illegal narcotics a failure.
“We have to be honest with ourselves. The ‘drug war; really failed. Almost nothing changed with the illegal drugs situation. It’s still chronic. If it succeeded, then there should be a significant dent on the drug syndicates,” he said in Filipino.
“What else can we do with the one year remaining? We still have to deal with the pandemic and our other problems.”
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