Drilon asks PSA to help find out drug addict statistics
Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon criticized the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) for failing to help provide correct and reliable data that can aid the government's campaign against illegal drugs.
Drilon raised the issue amidst the confusion brought about by the conflicting statistics related to the anti-drug campaign, such confusion even caused the removal from post of a top official of the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB).
“The law provides that the data produced by the PSA shall be the official and controlling statistics of the government,” Drilon said at the agency’s budget hearing on Friday.
Under the Republic Act No. 10625 or the Philippine Statistical Act of 2013, the PSA shall be primarily responsible for all national censuses and surveys, sectoral statistics, consolidation of selected administrative recording systems and compilation of the national accounts, according to Drilon.
Drilon asked PSA regarding the extent of its participation in getting the real data on the supposed gravity of the Philippine drug problem.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Loren Legarda responded that the PSA merely relies on the data submitted by an inter-agency body composed by the Philippine National Police and the Department of Justice, among others.
To which Drilon replied: “To me, that is very discomforting if we are just relying on the data of the police who may have other motives or agenda in dishing out statistics."
“I cannot understand why a major policy thrust of this administration, which is solving of the drug problem, is not supported by reliable data from the PSA,” Drilon said in dismay.
Last May, President Rodrigo Duterte sacked Dangerous Drugs Board chairman Benjamin Reyes for saying that there were only 1.8 million drug dependents in the country, way below the 4.7 million figure cited by the President and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.
“If we are saying that we just rely on the police whose motive insofar as the data is concerned is suspect, then we really have a problem,” he stressed.
“What is PSA for if it will not have its own independent data? I cannot believe what I’m hearing. We have no independent data upon which our policies will be based,” Drilon added.
The minority leader said that having reliable and correct data is crucial in crafting the correct government policy.
“Reliable data should be the basis of policy. If we have wrong data, the policy to be crafted would also be wrong. We should shift to data-driven policy-making, especially in this war against drugs, instead of generating suspect data for the sole purpose of backing up policies already made,” Drilon said.
He said the expertise of PSA and the National Economic and Development Authority can be put to good use.
“The PSA and NEDA can shed light on this issue that has long been the subject of confusion and debate. I suggest that PSA and NEDA utilize their budget and capability in coming up with reliable data that could aid the government in crafting sound and better policies,” Drilon said.
He advised the PSA and its head agency, the NEDA, to conduct their own survey concerning the extent of drug problems in the country.
“This is not rocket science. Certainly finding out number of drug dependent is a matter that can be determined by appropriate surveys,” he added. DMS