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Robredo: No ‘senseless killings’ under my watch

VICE President Leni Robredo and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director General Aaron Aquino attend a meeting of the Inter-Agency Committee on Illegal-Drugs at the Office of the Vice President in Quezon City. (Mark Balmores)

VICE President Leni Robredo and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director General Aaron Aquino attend a meeting of the Inter-Agency Committee on Illegal-Drugs at the Office of the Vice President in Quezon City. (Mark Balmores)

As she pushes for an “evidence-based” strategy and approach in dealing the country’s illegal drugs problem, Vice President Leni Robredo yesterday maintained that “senseless killings” will not have a place under the “drug war” she now leads.

Robredo met members of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs at the Quezon City Reception House days after she accepted the position given by President Duterte as co-chair of the committee under the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.

Robredo gave a summary of what “transpired” during her meeting with PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino and other members of the ICAD which she described was more of a “listening exercise” for her.

“We still have many days ahead of us but this meeting was really a listening exercise for me,” she said.
Robredo noted that “despite our differences,” she would like to believe that the OVP and the other members of the ICAD share the same goal. “Iiiisa lang naman ang hangarin natin at ‘yun ay ang maging matagumpay ang kampanya natin laban sa illegal na droga,” she said.

She urged all ICAD members to unite and work together in the campaign against illegal drugs. “I would like to believe that people would expect us to go beyond the differences and for us to work together,” she said.

Recognizing that “drug addiction is a serious problem that our country is facing,” Robredo said that she is “all for a strong national policy against illegal drugs” and she supports a “vigorous anti-illegal drugs campaign.”

“However, I also feel that we should do things right – everything that we should be doing should be within the bounds of the rule of law,” Robredo said.

For her, the illegal drugs problem is not just a “problem of crime only.”

“Ang kalaban natin ang hindi kababayan natin, ang kalaban natin dito ay droga at dahil ang kalaban natin ay droga, we should also look at it not just using the lens of crime or criminal justice but using the lens of health and the fact that addiction is a medical and sociological problem,” Robredo said.

Thus, she is pushing for evidence-based strategy and approach.

Robredo said that meeting with ICAD members gave her an idea “where am I to start” since before her appointment as ICAD co-chair, “I did not have access to the final data that you had access to.”

She reiterated her earlier observations on the country’s war on illegal drugs.

“I have always been very vocal about my stand, the President has – on various occasions – expressed frustration on the war on drugs,” she said. “I want to understand where are we lacking because all of the agencies have been pouring tremendous efforts and resources already for this campaign and yet, the number of drug dependents remain high,” she added.

As she suggested earlier, Robredo noted that this is the best time to re-assess the campaign. “I know that we already had so many gains, many accomplishments but despite the many gains and accomplishments, marami pa din tayong kailangan gawin and I am hoping to look at the effective strategies that we can continue and reconsider those that do not give us desirable results,” she said.

Robredo noted that she has “always been very vocal about my opposition against the killings that accompanied “Operation: Tokhang.” She noted that because of the “many instances of killings that accompanied Operation: Tokhang, it has reached a certain level of notoriety that when we say ‘Tokhang’ it means a war against the poor.”

Given this, Robredo noted that it is “now the time” to shift gears and opt for a campaign “that is more effective without senseless deaths.” (Ina Hernnando Malipot)

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