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Duterte’s Blood-Soaked Drug War Backed By Suspicious Statistics

REUTERS/Erik De Castro

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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter
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The brutal drug war in the Philippines is reportedly supported by exaggerated figures.

President Rodrigo Duterte’s rhetoric on the country’s drug problems are often punctuated with intentionally-skewed statistics, a Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) official revealed to Reuters.

“He just exaggerates it so we will know that the problem is very big,” explained Wilkins Villanueva, the metro Manila regional director of the PDEA.

Duterte has said many times that the Philippines has 3.7 million drug users. “The number is quite staggering and scary,” he said during his State of the Nation address. “I have to slaughter these idiots for destroying my country.”

The Office of the President’s Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB), however, reports that the number is actually around 1.8 million. Furthermore, while the president calls these people addicts, at least one third have only used drugs once in the past year. Also, less than half of the country’s drug users have used shabu, a kind of addictive methamphetamine. Most Filipino drug users are regular users of marijuana.

The president and other officials claim that 75 percent of the serious crimes in the Philippines are drug related. Nimfa Reloc, who monitors heinous crime cases at the Philippines National Police Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management, told reporters that the number is actually around 15 percent. An official with the DDB said there isn’t any real data on drug-related crimes.

Duterteargues that two police officers die every day in his drug war. Between July 1 and Oct. 12, 13 police officers were killed. That works out to one every eight days.

Interestingly, while Duterte and his administration are fudging the numbers, officials don’t seem to care. “I don’t see it as a problem,” said Villanueva. “Before, our fight against dangerous drugs was a lonely battle…Now, everybody’s helping us.”

“If they make people alarmed, then why not? It doesn’t hurt anyone,” explained Sen. Vicente Sotto, the former chief of the DDB and a supporter of Duterte’s war on drugs.

Some have indicated that fake figures are putting pressure on police to produce results that are inconsistent with national conditions. “That’s the reason we are having a hard time. We need to produce,” a police officer told reporters.

Around 2,300 people have been killed in Duterte’s war on drugs. Initial figures put the death toll at 3,600, but the police lowered the figure this month. The accuracy of the new figure is unknown.

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