Duterte names ex-Gen. Santiago as Dangerous Drugs Board head
President Rodrigo Duterte has appointed retired General Dionisio Santiago as the new head of the Dangerous Drugs Board.
Santiago replaced Benjamin Reyes, who was fired by the President in May for "contradicting" his number of 4 million suspected drug users in the country.
Reyes had cited in a forum, which Agnes Callamard, United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or abitrary executions also attended at the University of the Philippines last May, that there were 1.8 million drug dependents in the country based on a survey in 2015 commissioned by the DDB.
In a statement on Sunday, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said Santiago could be a big help in the administration's war on drugs.
"General Santiago’s return to the national government with his appointment to the DDB will greatly contribute to the President’s vision of a drug-free Philippines," he said.
Santiago served as Director-General of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.
"His expertise and advocacy is fighting illegal drugs, which became his platform when he ran in the last elections," Abella said.
Santiago lost in the senatorial race in the May 2016 elections.
It was Duterte's campaign promise to address drug problem in the country as he cited Santiago's figure that there were 3 million drug users and pushers in the country.
The President's 4 million estimated number of drug dependents in the country was apparently reached by simply adding Santiago's 3 million estimate and the 1 million individuals who "surrendered" to authorities during the first six months up to December last year of his administration's campaign against illegal drugs.
In a recent forum, Santiago said the government has to re-engineer the anti-drug campaign, while he considered the Philippine National Police's Oplan Double Barrel I and II as "successful."
He has said those involved in illegal drugs are now thinking twice before they engage themselves again into narcotics.
Some of the ways to re-engineer the campaign against illegal drugs are the provision of livelihood for the drug peddlers and to improve the environment, such as providing lights to unlighted areas, he earlier said.
Even the rehabilitation centers should be restructured, like providing livelihood to the patients and they should not be visited by their relatives, he added.
Duterte has been criticized locally and internationally for the increasing number of individuals being killed allegedly due to their involvement in illegal drugs. Celerina Monte/DMS