May 8, 2006
VILLAR: DRUG ADDICTION STATS INCONSISTENT AND NOT UPDATED
Senator Manny Villar, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Illegal Drugs, says various local and foreign drug-monitoring agencies have been issuing reports and statistics about the status of drug addiction in the country to the point that these have become inconsistent with each other.
"There are so many statistics coming out, most of them inconsistent and not up to date. If we were to base our analysis of the drug situation in the country from these, we cannot paint a clear or realistic picture of the havoc that illegal drugs have wreaked in our society," says Villar.
According to Villar, "There is a need to produce a more consolidated, comprehensive and updated statistics on the extent of drug addiction in the country. Some anti-drug authorities and agencies are bragging about the decline in drug addiction among Filipinos, but their figures are incomprehensive and more than a year old. So those cannot be reflective of the current situation."
In March this year, Department of State of the United States (US) released its 2006 International Narcotics Control Report that refers to the Philippines as a drug smuggler's paradise. The report cites that while counter-narcotics law enforcement in the (Philippines) is a high priority, it is still being hindered by a number of setbacks such as lack of resources, corruption in the government among others.
The report further cites that, "The Philippines is a narcotics source and transshipment country. Illegal drugs enter the country through seaports, economic zones, and airports. With over 36,200 kilometers of coastline and 7,000 islands, the Philippine archipelago is a drug smuggler's paradise."
Then just recently, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) claims in a statement that the number of Filipinos using illegal drugs has decreased to 6.7 million from around 10 million in 2001 based on the 2004 survey results of the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB).
"These declining figures may be considered as good news, but we should take note of the date of the survey. The survey was conducted in nearly two years ago already. How can we be sure that between 2004 and now, the number of drug addicts have not increased again?" cites Villar.
Villar further cites that with the discovery of shabu tiangge left and right, the most prominent of which were in Pasig and Bulacan, "there is an indication that illegal drugs are easy to come by these days and thus users and pushers are still everywhere."
"We should not be complacent. It is too early to tap ourselves in the back, the fight against drug addiction is a continuous one. Anti-illegal drugs authorities should remain vigilant and aggressive in their campaign for a drug-free Philippines as drug addiction and smuggling remains one of the biggest threats in the society," adds Villar.
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