News SONA 2018 Promise Tracker

SONA 2018 Promise Tracker: Drugs and crime

To eradicate illegal drugs in three to six months and to lower criminality was a campaign promise, and became the centerpiece of President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration. Entering the second half of his presidency, he has repeatedly promised this in all of his three State of the Nation Addresses. It is a promise still in progress.

“I’m tired and I think I cannot fulfill the promise of ending all these problems. Drugs will not end at the end of my term. It might just be — it could worsen,” he said in a speech in August 2018.

Two weeks before Duterte’s fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA), the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), an international organization for human rights which the Philippines is also a member, voted for the investigation of alleged crimes committed of Duterte’s administration on the drug war.

The Palace strongly condemns the resolution saying it was “grotesquely one-sided, outrageously narrow, and maliciously partisan” and insists that the international probe is an interference of the Philippine sovereignty.

See below to track how did Duterte fared on his campaign promises on fighting criminality and drugs, including reimposition of death penalty and revival of mandatory ROTC.

PROMISE: Fight against illegal drugs will be relentless and chilling

“The war against illegal drugs is far from over. Where before, the war resulted in the seizure of illegal drugs worth millions of pesos, today, they run [into] billions in peso value…This is why the illegal drugs war will not be sidelined. Instead, it will be as relentless and chilling, if you will, as on the day it began.” (SONA 2018)

In progress

In March, Duterte revealed that the drug war situation has worsened due to the increase in the amount of illegal drugs from millions to billions of pesos. Philippine National Police (PNP) shared the same sentiment.

But Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) chief Director General Aaron Aquino disagreed, saying it was a good sign that the government was able to intercept large volume of illegal drugs.

There are more than 6,600 drug suspects killed in the drug war since July 2016, a 3,149 increase since 2017 SONA, the latest PNP data show.

Duterte has ever since flip-flopped on the number of suspects under his drug war.

PROMISE: Reimpose death penalty on heinous crimes

“I therefore ask Congress to act on all pending legislations to reimpose the death penalty on heinous crimes — especially on the trafficking of illegal drugs.” (SONA 2017)

In progress

Five bills have already been filed in the 18th Congress by senators Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao, Christopher “Bong” Go, Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, Panfilo “Ping’ Lacson and Sherwin “Win” Gatchalian.

Senate president Vicente “Tito” Sotto said the reimposition of death penalty on drug trafficking may stand a better chance than bills proposing capital punishment forplunder.

PROMISE: Address prosecution backlog especially in illegal drugs cases

“To address backlogs and low prosecutorial effectiveness and efficiency, the investigation and case management processes shall be streamlined including those for illegal drugs and heinous crimes.” (SONA 2016)

In progress

Sotto refiled the Dangerous Drug Court (DDC) bill for the Senate’s 18th Congress as one of his priority bills.

This bill aims to create a special court to expedite cases according to Article XI of Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has adopted the Supreme Court’s plea bargaining framework for compliance of lower courts on drug cases.

PROMISE: Strengthen protection for witnesses and whistleblowers

“To eradicate the prevalent cultures of fear and silence that have hounded our justice system, I asked Congress to enact the Whistleblower Protection Law while the present Witness Protection Program shall be strengthened.” (SONA 2016)

In progress

Sen. Richard “Dick” Gordon refiled the Whisteblower’s Act as his priority bill in July.

Nine senate bills on witnesses and whistleblowers’ protection remained pending in the committee level in the 17th Congress.

PROMISE: Strengthen ROTC program

“Let us also strengthen our ROTC Program to instill love of country and good citizenship.” (SONA 2016)

In progress

Senators Dela Rosa, Lacson, Go, Pacquiao and Gatchalian have filed the return of mandatory Reserve High School Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) for Senior High School in the 18th Congress.

Duterte previously certified the mandatory ROTC bill as urgent before the 17th congress adjourned.

In a letter addressed to Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Duterte said that the law is necessary to nation-building as it will invigorate the students’ sense of nationalism and patriotism by restoring basic military and leadership trainings for the youth.

Sources, Duterte admits drug problem won’t end under his watch, Aug. 14, 2018

United Nations Human Rights: Office of the High Commissioner, UN human rights experts call for independent probe into Philippines violations, June 7, 2019

Office of the Presidential Spokesperson official Facebook, On the adoption of the Iceland resolution, July 12, 2019

Presidential Communications Operations Office, Speech of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte During the Launching of the Go Negosyo’s Pilipinas Angat Lahat” Program, Aug. 14, 2018

GMA News Online, Palace insists international probe into drug war an interference with PHL sovereignty, July 5, 2019, Palace: UN probe on Duterte drug war is clearly an ‘interference’, July 5, 2019

Philstar, Palace to countries seeking probe: Respect Philippines sovereignty, July 6, 2019

State of the Nation Address

On relentless drug war

On death penalty bill

On prosecutorial effectiveness

On Whistleblowers and Witness Protection Act

On ROTC program

(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)