ALMOST 5 million Filipinos used illegal drugs at least once in their lifetime, the latest survey by the Dangerous Drugs Board showed.
The latest 2015 Nationwide Survey on the Nature and Extent of Drug Abuse in the Philippines presented Monday also revealed that more than 1.8 million Filipinos or 1.8 percent of the total population were using illegal drugs at the time of the survey.
The survey conducted by the Resources, Environment and Economic Center for Studies had a sample of 5,000 respondents nationwide with 1,000 respondents each from the National Capital Region, Northern and Southern Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao.
Noting the high retention rate of 28 percent for shabu and 24.7 percent for marijuana, DDB Chairman Benjamin Reyes said the government is working hard to prevent those who had tried drugs from going back to them.
“Our key message is do not try illegal drugs because the retention rate is high,” Reyes said.
The survey showed that six out of 10 of the respondents answered shabu when asked about which illegal drug comes to mind, while three of 10 said marijuana.
Ninety-one percent showed awareness of shabu, followed by marijuana with 78.6 percent, and cocaine at 10.2 percent.
Meanwhile, 76.3 percent of the lifetime users said they had tried using marijuana, while 47.7 percent had tried shabu, while another 10 percent of the respondents used other drugs such as cocaine, ecstasy, and heroin.
On Sunday, President Rodrigo Duterte asked for a six-month extension of his most famous campaign promise to eradicate the spread of illegal drugs in the country, saying there are too many people involved in the narcotics trade and he “cannot kill them all.”
“I did not realize how severe and how serious the drug menace was in this republic until I became president,” Duterte said.
“I did not have that idea that there were thousands of people in the drug business and the worst [part] is they are operated now by people in government,” Duterte said.
Since July, over 700, 000 drug addicts have surrendered to authorities in his war on illegal drugs while some 1,105 drug suspects have already been killed in slightly more than two months since Duterte took office.
Another 2,035 have been murdered by unknown assailants, with human rights monitors saying these could be vigilantes, emboldened by Duterte’s repeated calls for the public to help him kill criminals.
The drug crackdown has already drawn severe criticism from the United States, the European Union parliament and the United Nations over what they say are extrajudicial killings.
But Duterte has rejected criticism, calling US President Barack Obama a “son of a whore” and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon a “fool,” and vowing to continue his campaign.
Duterte promised on the campaign trial that 100,000 people would be killed during his crackdown and so many bodies would be dumped in Manila Bay that fish would grow fat from feeding on them.
Days after his election win, Duterte also offered security officials bounties for the bodies of drug dealers, and has repeatedly pledged to protect police from prosecution over the killings.
He argued that these robust measures are necessary to prevent the country becoming a “narco-state.”