PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte said that the country has three million Filipinos hooked on illegal drugs, not 1.6 million as estimated by the Philippine National Police (PNP).
The President said that he is more inclined to believe the higher number of drug users presented by former Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) chair Dionisio Santiago than the figure given by the police.
“I do not believe that it’s one million six — more than. I think the original figure of Santiago is the correct one. But can you just imagine three million Filipinos addicted to drugs?” Duterte said during the Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Malacañang Monday.
“These are the guys who are reduced to slavery by a drug called shabu and they are rendered inutile for the rest of their lives,” he added.
The President made the latest remarks amid conflicting statistics in the government’s campaign against illegal drugs.
At the start of his term, he used to declare there were three to four million drug addicts in the country to justify the government’s aggressive campaign against the illegal drug trade.
Duterte even sacked Santiago’s predecessor Benjamin Reyes in May 2017 for claiming there were only 1.8 million drug users, way below the 4 million figure he and PDEA cited.
In his speech in Malacañang, Duterte recognized the “enormous damage” caused by the drug problem in the country, saying his government would not back down from its campaign. He said the government was waging “a war against people who destroys a country.”
“Losing so many people along the way and the social dysfunction created by drugs, it does not end with a dead body,” he said.