Leni changes tack on drug war

Metrics to focus on number of lives improved

Vice President Leni Robredo vowed Thursday to pursue the campaign against illegal drugs with “vigor, intensity, and strength,” but this time with a firm commitment to adhere to the rule of law and to shun human rights violations and extrajudicial killings.

READ: Leni: Are you ready for me?

Leni changes tack on drug war
YES MA’AM. Vice President Leni Robredo visits Camp Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal, where she had breakfast with officials and personnel of the 2nd Infantry Division Thursday, a day after she accepted the presidential offer for her to be the government’s anti-drug czar. The officials were led by Brig. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr., commander of the 2ID, and Brig. Gen. Marceliano Teofilo, 203rd Brigade Commander. Robredo was gifted with tokens including a collage of photos taken during her official visit. OVP Photo
“This is my clear message to [the Inter-agency Committee on Anti-illegal Drugs]: our war against drugs will continue with the same vigor, with the same intensity, with the same strength. What we will change is the manner by which the campaign is carried out. It will be within the bounds of the rule of law, of human rights, of standards of procedure,” Robredo said a day after accepting the President’s offer to serve as co-chairperson of ICAD.

“First, we will change the metrics. Our metrics will no longer be about the number of people killed. Our metrics will be about the number of lives we have improved and rehabilitated. We need to change our policy when it comes to the unnecessary killing of innocent people,” she added.

Robredo said she met with former officials of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, Philippine National Police, and National Bureau of Investigation Wednesday to discuss the enforcement of the anti-illegal narcotics campaign.

She also made a formal request for her co-chairperson, PDEA director-general Aaron Aquino, to give her a briefing today (Friday) as to the data of ICAD.

“I requested my co-chair to make a report as to the status, not just on the accomplishments of ICAD, but on the data. When you say we are waging a war, we should first know who our enemies are. What is the universe that we are operating in? We need to understand the data,” she said.

Robredo said she also plans to broaden the composition of ICAD to include “members of civil society, faith-based organizations, and even [human rights] advocates.”

“We want to send the message across: This is not a fight of ICAD alone. This is not a fight of the President alone. This is a fight that involves all of us, so we need to help each other,” the Vice President said.

“That [expanding ICAD membership] is one of my proposals. There is no need to finger point. Broadening the membership of ICAD to include the private sector will help our campaign. If all the members are from government, there is a tendency to be close-minded and deny other stakeholders a voice,” she added.

Robredo also reiterated that her decision to accept the position has nothing to do with whatever her decision will be on the 2022 presidential elections.

“If I was thinking of 2022, I would not have accepted this position. It would have been too much of a risk,” she said.

On her first day as drug czar, Robredo ordered an end to the killing of drug suspects.

READ: Rody dares Leni to take on drug czar role for 6 months

“It is not our plan to kill because that is not within the bounds of the rule of law. That’s our directive,” she said.

“Most of the time, the concentration of the drug war is focused on small-time drug offenders. We should have more resources and time to run after those big-time [offenders]. That’s my directive. To kill whether these are big-time or small-time is not within our plan,” she said.

She added that the success of the war against drugs cannot be measured based on the number of drug personalities who were killed.

“We will change the metrics. We cannot measure the success based on how many were killed. We should place in our metrics the number of those who have stayed alive,” she said.

President Rodrigo Duterte has welcomed the decision of Vice President Leni Robredo to accept her appointment as co-chairman of the administration’s inter-agency body to combat illegal drugs.

READ: Rody appoints, Leni declines

With the Vice President at the helm of the anti-narcotics campaign, President Duterte expects she would see the “realities on the ground, particularly with respect to the government’s position against extrajudicial or state-sponsored killings,” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said after the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday night.

“Deaths occur due to the violent reactions on the part of agents of the illegal drug trade against the strict enforcement of the law,” Panelo added.

In April 2017, lawyer Jude Sabio filed a complaint over “continuing mass murder” before the International Criminal Court against Duterte.

The country later pulled out from the ICC.

In July this year, the UN Human Rights Council also passed a resolution to probe into the human rights situation in the country amid Duterte’s anti-drug campaign.

Eighteen countries sponsored the Iceland-led resolution, which drew the ire of Duterte, prompting him to order all government agencies to reject loans and grants from the states which backed the inquiry.

In related developments:

• Senator Panfilo Lacson said Thursday he would meet Robredo to discuss her new role as drug czar. “We are fixing our schedule to sit down,” said Lacson when asked if Robredo accepted his offer to help her.

• Dangerous Drugs Board chairperson Catalino Cuy said he believes that violations must be stopped in their campaign against illegal drugs. In a Dobol B sa News TV interview, Cuy said he shared the observation of Robredo to avoid committing violations in their operations to go after the illegal drug activity. “If there have violations, that would just be a thing of the past. This is where we should focus on. May be, this is the observation of the Vice President,” he said.

READ: Rody needles Leni on drug czar, VP retorts: Won’t be ‘scapegoat’

READ: Robredo clarifies drug war yarn, opts for ‘review’

Topics: Leni Robredo , illegal drugs , Inter-agency Committee on Anti-illegal Drugs , Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency , Philippine National Police
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