Self-confessed drug lord Rolan “Kerwin” Espinosa (File photo)

MANILA – Despite President Rodrigo Roa Duterte himself admitting that he could not finish his war against illegal drugs before the end of his six-year term, acting presidential spokesperson Martin Andanar would still consider the war on drugs as “successful.”

Andanar said the administration’s anti-narcotics campaign neutralized both big fishes, including slain drug lord Melvin “Boyet” Odicta Sr., self-confessed drug lord Rolan “Kerwin” Espinosa, and Chinese drug lords among others.

“Relatively, yes, it’s mission accomplished when you have already interdicted or when you have captured those who are responsible for this kung iyong mga Odicta at kung sino-sino pang mga big fish na nahuli (if Odicta and other big fish have been caught),” he said in an interview on Daily Tribune’s “Straight Talk” program on Tuesday.

From 2016 when Duterte assumed office until 2021, Andanar said the drug war significantly reduced the crime rate in the country.

“Ibig sabihin niyan ay successful, titingnan mo na lamang doon sa pagbaba ng crime volume. Kasi, malaking bahagi ng ating crime volume ay dulot ng droga. So, bumaba siya ng 64 percent iyong crime volume sa buong Pilipinas (This means it’s successful, just look at the reduced crime volume. A huge part of the crime volume is due to drugs. So crime went down by 64 percent in the entire Philippines),” he added.

He also noted that many Filipinos feel safer due to efforts in eliminating drugs on the streets.

“Ibig sabihin ang mga kalye natin ay naibalik na natin sa ating mga kababayan, nakakauwi na sila nang matiwasay at maayos na hindi sila natatakot na umuwi nang gabi. Lalo na ngayon nagbukas na iyong ekonomiya na hindi sila matatakot na ma-snatch-an sila or masaksak or kung anumang gawin sa kanila ng mga drug addict (This means we’re giving the streets back to our countrymen, they can go home safely without fear, even at night. Especially now that our economy is opening up, they will no longer be afraid of snatchers or being stabbed by a drug addict),” he said.

Data from the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) showed that around PHP75.4-billion worth of illegal drugs has been seized since July 2016.

A total of 226,662 anti-illegal drug operations were conducted with 327,039 suspects arrested, including 1,044 government workers.

Anti-drug law enforcers have also dismantled 1,026 dens and clandestine laboratories and removed illegal drugs in 24,303 barangays.

Amid criticism over deaths linked to the anti-drug campaign, Andanar assured that the Philippines continues to cooperate with the United Nations (UN) on human rights.

He reiterated that the country’s judicial system is working against the killings that happened during the drug war waged by the administration.

“It’s not a worry for the country itself kasi hindi naman siya (because it’s not an) investigation but it is already a cooperation between the Philippine government and the United Nations and it goes without saying that they recognize the fact that we have a working justice system in our country na (that) if we cooperate and if we work together then we can answer some if not all of your questions about the drug war in our country,” he said.

In a speech delivered in Ilocos Sur on March 4, Duterte expressed hope that his successor would continue his fight against illegal drugs.

He vowed never to cooperate with foreign probes, noting that he would only face trial before a Philippine court. (PNA)