inflate, deflate, reboot numbers?

IN A SERIES recently, PCIJ conducted separate, extended interviews with senior officials of Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), the Philippine National Police (PNP), and the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB).

Our goal: Get their side on specific questions about the numbers, conduct, impact, and confusing concepts and narratives of President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s war on drugs.

The on-cam interviews that lasted about six hours in all — or two hours for each interviewee — also focused on gaps in the data on the drug war that PCIJ has gathered over the last 11 months, through dozens of request letters filed with these and other state agencies. PCIJ’s files now host over 2.7 gigabytes of data on the drug menace and the drug war, with data as early as 2010 and as current as May 2017.

PCIJ commended the three agencies for finally fielding a unitary report (#RealNumbersPH) on the status of the drug war, but also raised clarificatory questions on sundry issues that the report has not settled.

Interviewed were:

Director Derrick Arnold C. Carreon, chief of the PDEA Public Information Office. (PDEA Director General Isidro Lapeña, chair Of Inter-Agency Committee On Illegal Drugs (ICAD) under Duterte’s Executive Order No. 15, was out of town and in his stead, directed Carreon to sit down with PCIJ);

Police Director Camilo Pancratius P. Cascolan, head of the PNP Directorate for Operations and the PNP Double Barrel Secretariat. (PCIJ had sought interviews with PNP chief, Director General Ronald ‘Bato’ de la Rosa and PSSupt.Dionardo B. Carlos, chief PIO of the PNP but both declined on account of busy schedules.); and

Secretary Benjamin P. Reyes, until then the chairman of the DDB. Four hours after PCIJ’s interview with Reyes on May 24, 2017, Duterte issued oral orders firing him for his statements that DDB has estimated only 1.8 million total drug dependents, or less than half the four-million figure that the President usually cites in his speeches. “You do not contradict your own government… You’re just a civilian member of a board,” Duterte has said of Reyes.

What follows are the questions and topics PCIJ discussed with the three interviewees.
For Director Derrick Arnold C. Carreon, chief of the PDEA Public Information Office, Interview conducted on May 18, 2017, at the PDEA Compound, Diliman, Quezon City:

• In your agency’s plan,what is/are the measures of success of the drug war?
• What reporting and verification mechanisms do you have to verify raw data on the drug war?
• President Duterte organized the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) through Executive Order No. 15 only on March 6, 2017. It has four clusters (enforcement, advocacy, justice, and rehabilitation and reintegration). What are the tasks and activities of each cluster?
• There are two numbers of estimated drug dependents: four million (Duterte, ICAD, PDEA) and 1.8 million (DDB’s 2015 Survey). Explain how you computed four million.
• PDEA’s formula for deriving the estimated number of drug dependents seems flawed: Why did you compute for 22 million total households in the Philippines when the government says only 48 percent or only 20,160 “drug-affected barangays ” out of the 42,000 total barangays in the country? How many households are in barangays that are not drug-affected?
• Government says the Philippine drug market is a P120-billion industry. How did PDEA get this estimate? How is this P120-billion industry estimate distributed among the different kinds of illegal drugs?
• On the numbers of those killed, arrested, surrendered, operations conducted: How does PDEA keep its figures in sync with the PNP. Do you get, validate, and confirm raw reports from PNP field units?
• On the price of shabu: How did PDEA derive the estimate of P15,000 per gram? Slide 12 of #RealNumbersPH show wrong numbers: P15,000 and up price per gram x 1,645 kilos of shabu seized amounts to P24.675 billion, and not P14.49 billion worth of shabu as the report says had been seized.What is the real amount of drugs confiscated?
• Does PDEA monitor cases of those killed during police operations? Is there any investigation mechanism in place to determine if the killlings were justified and necessary? Does PDEA monitor cases filed with the PNP IAS on these cases?
• Deaths under investigation – how should these deaths be classified?
• How does PDEA dispose of confiscated drugs? What procedures are in place to prevent the revert to the market of seized drugs?’
• How much has PDEA given out as rewards to policemen and other operatives (as mandated by DDB Board Regulation No. 1, series of 2016)? Where did these funds come from?
• What happens to those arrested – were they charged? What has happened to the surrenderees? Where and which agency keeps their surrenderees’ forms?
• What is the concept behind “barangay drug affectation”? Which regions the most affected? Do you have reports on which barangay and how many had been declared cleared?
• How should one determine the success of the drug war? What is its end goal? When will it end?

For PDir. Camilo Pancratius Cascolan, PNP Directorate for Operations and Double Barrel Secretariat, interview conducted on May 23, 2017, at the PNP National Headquarters in Quezon City:

• How should the PNP measure the success of the drug war?
• How does the PNP derive its numbers of those killed, arrested, surrendered, houses visited, operations conducted? Who are your sources? Have you made mistakes?
• What are your baseline numbers: starting figures and latest figures? How does the PNP track its drug war accomplishments in the regions? What reporting and verification mechanisms are in place?
• The 1.2 million “surrenderees”: Does PNP have disaggregated data on how many are active drug users, and how many, inactive drug users?
• The number of surrenderees and the houses visited: Is there a direct correlation, as the PDEA formula for estimating the total number of drug users seems to suggest? How many surrenderees turned up at barangay assemblies and were not visited at their homes?
• Of the “DUI” cases: How does PNP determine who are DUI victims and who had been killed in police operations? How many DUI had triggered cases filed in court? Why so few? Why so many suspects at large? Are DUIs not a matter of failure by the PNP?
• Why has the PNP stopped reporting numbers of guns seized from drug suspects and victims of DUI cases? How many guns in all had been seized by the PNP in the last 10 months? Where are these guns? What are your findings about the sources of these guns?
• Internal cleansing: How many in the PNP are subjects of investigation? Who are they by rank and assignment? What is the process and findings of the investigation conducted?
• Ten months hence,in PNP’s assessment, what is the direction of the drug war? Slowing down?Consistently moving? How many cases had been resolved? Why are there are there more unresolved than resolved cases? Why is the PNP not disclosing results of its internal cleansing investigation?
• “Operation Lawmen” assigns rewards to PNP personnel and units for drugs seized in operations. How much had been given out as rewards for which units? How much and where is this reward money enrolled in the national budget?
• Police operations: About 53,000 anti-drug operations had been conducted as of this week. What is the process for planning an operation and getting clearance from PDEA? Do Tokhang operations often turn into instant police operations? Why are there so many buy-bust operations and shootout incidents?
• How many PNP personnel had been killed and wounded in drug operations from 10 months ago? How do these numbers compare with the numbers of those killed and wounded before Double Barrel?
• Shabu/drugs haul: What reference price should be used in your report? Low-grade and high-grade shabu found in most of those killed?
• PDEA says the average drug user consumes about 0.4 grams of shabu per day. What is the PNP’s estimate? How many drug pushers in all? What is the typical/average network of a drug pusher, by the number of users they sell to?
• How many PNP personnel had been deployed in Tokhang/Double Barrel operations? Are there “quotas” (operations conducted, numbers of arrested, surrendered, houses visited) that the PNP units must deliver? What happens to units that deliver below expectation?
• PDEA says the drug war must reduce barangay affectation levels by 30 per cent per year. Does PNP have its own accomplishment targets? Does ICAD have its own, i.e. numbers of arrested, surrendered, houses visited, rehabilitation rate, and reintegration rate?
• What are the PNP’s protocols in operations leading to violent deaths? Were SOCO teams deployed in all the cases of those killed in the drug war? Where are the reports?
• Has PNP monitored what happens to the bodies of those killed? There are reports of bodies of indigent victims left unclaimed in a number of morgues. What does PNP plan to do about this? Has PNP offered assistance to the victims’ families?
• The affidavits of the surrenderees: How are these collated by which agencies? Where are these affidavits kept? What purposes do these affidavits serve the PNP? Are these affidavits in effect reference for operations in future of the PNP? Why require surrenderees to report weekly to barangay officials who often do not know what counseling services to offer?
• Women and children arrested/surrendered about 55,000 in all, or less than five percent of 1.2 million total surrenderees. Has PNP sorted the data on surrendereees by age, income status, educational attainment, profession/job, religion, and civil status?
• The estimates of total drug dependents, total drug trade, total numbers of killed, arrested, surrendered: How does PNP derive its numbers? Until December 2016, PNP Chief de la Rosa was using 1.6 million as the PNP estimate of total drug dependents, while the President has consistently used four million? Why?
• “Barangay affectation”: What is the concept about? In July 2016, before Tokhang/Double Barrel started, reports stated there were only around 32.5 to 36 percent “drug-affected barangays” in the country. The figure by April 2017 has risen to 48 percent of the 42,000 total barangays in the Philippines. Why? Do these numbers suggest that the drug war has been a failure?
• How are barangays “cleared” of drug affectation? Can “cleared” barangays return to “affected” status? How?
• The PNP organization and Tokhang/Double Barrel: What has happened to the men, funds, and resources of the PNP-Anti-Illegal Drugs Group that General Bato dissolved after the Jee Ick Joo murder? Which agencies call the shots on what barangays should be targeted for drug operations? What clearances and other requirements (from PDEA, PNP command) must ground units secure before an operation? How long is the entire process of planning to actual conduct to documentation of a police operation against illegal drugs?
• Cases filed for those arrested in police operations: Why so few compared to the numbers of those arrested? Who are the witnesses? Prosecutors? In which courts filed?
• Cases filed for DUI cases: In which courts have these cases been filed? Who are the respondents? Why so few compared to number of DUI incidents? Why are so few suspected arrested? Who are the prosecutors/defense lawyers in these cases?
• Complaints filed by families of those killed in drug operations: Does PNP monitor? How many cases in all had been filed, and where? Who are the respondent PNP personnel and units? What is the typical case disposition rate for all these cases?
• Budget for Tokhang/Double Barrel: PCIJ has requested data from PNP Directorate for Comptrollership, which tossed our request to PNP Directorate for Operations, but you tossed back our request to the PNP Comptrollership. Why? Which agency in PNP has the answers? Why is there no transparency about this matter?
• Budget for Tokhang/Double Barrel: What are the top expense items? What are your sources of funds? Which/who are the disbursing officers? What are the rules for reporting on disbursements and requesting fund support? What are the gaps in the PNP personnel’s equipage/resources needed for Tokhang/Double Barrel?
• High-Value Targets: What has happened to the wad of alleged intelligence reports on drug coddlers among generals and local/barangay officials that President Duterte shows off in public? What has happened to the generals Duterte has linked to the drug trade early on? How many barangay officials, local officials, police officers and men are alleged coddlers of drug pushers? What does PNP plan to do about them? What is the status of your investigation into each case?
• Surrenderees data files: How big is the data cache on the 1.2-million surrenderees by now? If encoded, how big is this file by gigabytes? Who or which agencies have access to this file? Should surrenderees worry that this file is a virtual dossier on them as targeted persons in the drug war?
• Tokhang/Double Barrel subjects: Why are those killed, arrested, surrendered overwhelmingly poor and from poor communities? Why are there so few rich and prominent persons arrested? Why are there just a small number of raids conducted in posh villages, and smaller volumes of non-shabu drugs seized by the police?
• Bodies: Does the PNP have a count of the bodies of those killed left unclaimed at the morgues and funeral parlors? How does PNP propose to manage this situation?
• Census of houses: PNP and local government units have started to conduct a census of households for the drug war. What is its purpose? Who or which agencies will keep the census data?
• Drug use for medical/health reasons, or as a cultural norm: Does Tokhang/Double Barrel recognize these situations to be valid?
• The Law (Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2012, Republic Act No. 9165) does not distinguish clearly between users/abusers, pushers, possession with discernment, toxicity or purity of drugs, harm-reduction or health dimensions of drug use, and drug abuse as a co-dependency social malaise among family members. Tokhang/Double Barrel has been conducted in the last 10 months as a police operation? Should the law be amended?
• Will a punitive war on drugs not only force pushers to transfer trade elsewhere or go underground?
• Trauma counseling needed? What has been the impact of the drug war on PNP personnel seeing maimed bodies too often? What do your family members say?
• President has admitted to using, and at one point, “abusing” Fentanyl against his doctor’s prescription. Isn’t Fentanyl a prohibited drug?
• PNP’s changing concepts/narratives and shifting numbers: Why does PNP seem to inflate, deflate numbers of those killed and arrested on occasion? Are these mistakes? Why has the PNP shifted from using just a single number for those killed to separate numbers for DUI, later murder cases under investigation, then homicide cases under investigation? What made you change the label from “killed during police operations” to “died during police operations”? What is the difference between the two concepts?
• Isn’t the PNP being too sensitive or defensive? Are the changing concepts just a PR spin for the PNP?
• DUIs, illegal guns: Except for Central Luzon, all the regions of the country show bigger numbers of DUI incidents than numbers of those killed in police operations? DUI agents more productive, in a manner of speaking, than the PNP? Do these not reflect a failure on the part of the PNP?
• If PNP could redraw Tokhang/Double Barrel, where should it make improvements? What have been the certain successes, failures of the drug war?
• Due process: Human rights groups say Tokhang/Double Barrel flouts the rule of law, and the right to due process of those killed, arrested, surrendered? It seems like drug operations have flipped the rule of law to that of the suspects considered being “guilty until proven innocent”?
• Government officials have criticized media reports on the drug war but nearly all these reports have been based on data from the PNP and official sources only. Was the resort to changing concepts and shifting numbers by the PNP over the last 10 months largely to blame?
• Espinosa and Jee Ick Joo cases: What is the status of the cases? Filed in court? Where are the respondents?
• DUI incidents: How did the PNP determine whether a case is drug-related or not? How long does an average investigation take? What does PNP do with drug-related? Not drug-related? About 60. 3 percent of the DUI cases are still under investigation, why do we still have a lot of DUIs? Are some of these homicide cases under investigation, upon determination that it is premeditated, has been covered in the DIDM tally as murder? How should we avoid double counting?
• How does the PNP define neutralization? PDEA counterparts said it could also mean “to kill”and not just to stop or to arrest.
• How should we treat the number of those killed during police operations — accomplishment or collateral damage?
• For cases against PNP personnel investigated by PNP IAS (Internal Affairs Service): Please clarify the definitions of exonerated, suspended, dismissed from service, etc. Of those determined as guilty by the IAS, what are the highest ranks of those dismissed, suspended, demoted?
• PNP PIO said data from July 1 to Jan 31 should not be connected to the data from March 1 to present, but some government agencies are doing that. How should we treat the one-month drug war break?
• Given that the police have declared 53, 785 operations conducted in line with the drug war as of May 9, meaning there were around 5,300 drug operations per month for the past ten months? How did the police do that while doing other police non-drug operations and tasks?
• #RealNumbersPH is good as a unitary report on the drug war but also swamped in riddles. It presents numbers without any explanation, numbers that are hardly comparable, or wrong numbers: The drug war has supposedly led to a decline in crime incidents/crime volume but drugs are not among the eight focus crimes that these reports are monitoring? About 10,500 drug users had supposedly been rehabilitated in 48 drug facilities (Latest DDB data show that the total bed capacity of a total of 54 drug rehab facilities (21 government, 33 private) is all of 3,529 only.)
• What is your personal take on the future of the drug war? When and how will it end?
For Secretary Benjamin P. Reyes, chairman of the Dangerous Drugs Board (until 8 pm of May 24, 2017), interview conducted at the DDB offices, May 24, 2017, from 2 to 4:30 pm.

• What is the DDB’s perspective on the status of the drug war? Slowing down? Consistent? Constantly reinventing?
• With the new Inter-agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD), what is the role of DDB on this team-up? Which branch of the ICAD can this government work on more? On top of their game?
• In Slide 3 of #RealNumbersPH, DDB data do not match: for 2016, DDB reported data for rehab enrollees is just 6,079. Where did the 10,500 rehabilitated drug users come from? And the 48 rehab centers are not all are public entities. What is estimated cost of rehab services in private institutions?In public institutions?
• Do you agree that the Philippine Drug Market is a P120-billion industry? Why or why not?
• Based on DDB’s monitoring, was there a quantifiable 26.45 percent reduction of the estimated total drug market because of the war on drugs?
• Slide 7 of Social cards from #RealNumbersPH seem to focus more on shabu. Why is that? What other illegal drugs should the government monitor and feature?
• How much money does the government spend on the war on drugs? For Enforcement? For Advocacy? For Justice? For Rehab and Reintegration?
• Do you agree with PDEA’s 4.7 million estimate of total drug dependents in the country? What do you think about PDEA’s formula for computing this estimate? Do you agree with it? Why or why not?
• Is DDB monitoring confiscated drugs and non-drug paraphernalia? Guns? How much do we have so far?
• What is the status of new rehab facilities being built? How much donations did government receive from private and foreign partners?
• DDB Regulation No. 1, series of 2016 mandates giving out rewards for cops and other operatives based on drugs seized. How much money was given out? PDEA and PNP said they have not done this yet? How much money has been given as rewards to ordinary private citizens?
• DDB Regulation No. 3, series of 2016 detailed guidelines on surrenderees. What did the government do to the information? Where are the filled forms?
• What is the status of BADACs and Masa Masid? How many BADACs have already been organized?
• The number of drug-affected barangays rose from 32.5 to 36 percent in July 2016 to 48 percent in April 2017, reports showed. What does this mean? Should this be the guide of police on drug operations?
• How about usage of drugs for health/medical purposes and for as a cultural norm? Where does DDB draw the line?
• What is the status of “Uniform Drug Inventory and Tracking System”? (DDB Regulation 1, 2017)
• What is the status of drug testing on public officials? How many tested positive? Dismissed from service? (DDB Regulation 2, 2017)
• What were the major changes made to the National Anti-Drug Plan of Action 2015-2020 given Duterte’s campaign line on the war on drugs?
• What training and other capacity development projects have been developed for personnel in charge of rehab patients?
• How should we treat children and women surrenderees?
• Do you agree that our drug problem is so severe and should be treated as a national security issue? Why or why not?
• How should we determine success in the drug war? What is the end goal?
• When will the drug war end?