Photo by Ted Aljibe/AFP
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – As President Rodrigo Duterte marks his 21st day as president, the war on drugs continues even as the number of anti-illegal drug operations and individuals arrested rises.
Data obtained by Rappler from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) on Thursday, July 21, show that 702 anti-illegal drug operations has been conducted nationwide from July 1 to July 20.
At least 39 operations were carried out by PDEA, the agency responsible for the “efficient and effective law enforcement of all the provisions” of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, while 23 were joint operations.
Other law enforcement agencies (OLEA), including but not limited to the National Bureau of Investigations (NBI), conducted 640 anti-illegal drug operations in the same period.
Most operations in Region 7
Operations covering illegal drugs during the first 20 days of Duterte were more frequent in Region 7, or the Central Visayas.
Philippine National Police (PNP) Region 7 Deputy Director for Operations Senior Supt Rey Lyndon Lawas, according to a Sun.Star Cebu report, said that 49% of the region or 1,189 out of 2,446 barangays (villages) were "drug affected" as of the first quarter of 2015.
On July 7, newly-installed Philippine National Police (PNP) Region 7 Director Chief Superintendent Noli Taliño told law enforcement in the region to "produce results" related to the drug situation in the provinces of Cebu, Bohol, and Siquijor.
According to official data, 70 of 126 police stations were not able to arrest top personalities involved in the drug trade. (READ: New Central Visayas top cop to men: Produce results or be relieved)
A total of 715 individuals have been arrested in relation to drug charges from July 1 to July 20, according to data from PDEA.
Data from the PNP, meanwhile, tallied 4,386 drug suspects arrested from July 1 to 28. About 141,310 voluntarily surrendered under Project TokHang.
About 316 drug personalities have been killed in operations, according to the PNP, within the same period. Meanwhile, 68,947 houses have been visited under Project TokHang.
Under the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, a pusher is defined as "any person who sells, trades, administers, dispenses, delivers or gives away to another, on any terms whatsoever, or distributes, dispatches in transit or transports dangerous drugs or who acts as a broker in any of such transactions."
The penalty, the law added, for "drug pushers" includes life imprisonment to fines ranging from P500,000 ($10,600)* to P10 million ($211,884).
The same penalty applies to drug possession in the following quantities:
An individual who is found to be positive for use of any illegal drug shall undergo a minimum of 6 months of rehabilitation in a treatment center.
If apprehended for a second time, the person will then be imprisoned for 6 to 12 years and fined from P50,000 (P126,500) to P200,000 (P505,000). This penalty, however, does not apply when the person is found to be in possession of a dangerous drug.
A total of 25,041 anti-illegal drug operations were conducted, while 19,423 were arrested in 2015. Out of this number, 1,826 were top drug personalities.
With Duterte's strong stand against illegal drugs, the numbers are likely to rise. – Rappler.com
Jodesz Gavilan is a writer and researcher for Rappler and its investigative arm, Newsbreak. She covers human rights and also hosts the weekly podcast Newsbreak: Beyond the Stories. She joined Rappler in 2014 after obtaining her journalism degree from the University of the Philippines.