Malacañang on Sunday it will share intelligence reports with Vice President Leni Robredo in line with the government’s campaign against illegal drugs, adding that the administration has nothing to hide and nothing to fear.
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“The government is not hiding anything in the record. It is open,” presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said.
“The reports contain the names of those involved in drugs which guides agencies. What’s wrong with that?” the Palace official added.
Robredo, who accepted last week the post offered by the President as co-chairperson of the Inter-agency Committee on Anti-illegal Drugs (ICAD), vowed to pursue the campaign with “vigor, intensity and strength,” but with a firm commitment to adhere to the rule of law and to shun human rights violations and extra-judicial killings.
On Friday, Robredo sought a briefing from her ICAD co-chairperson, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director-General Aaron Aquino, as to the data on the war against illegal narcotics.
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“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 had been critical of Duterte’s flagship campaign that has killed more than 5,000 drug suspects, according to government data, and she said it could be done without extrajudicial killings.
“She will work for it as she wants to as the head of the agency (ICAD). Let her do the job as she wants to,” Panelo said.
The latest PNP data showed there have been 5,779 drug suspects killed since Duterte took office in 2016 until Aug. 31 this year.
During the same period, the PNP said a total of 142,996 anti-drug operations were launched, where 1,499,474 drug personalities were captured.
Human rights watchdogs, however, claim the number of suspected drug personalities killed in the campaign could go as high as 20,000.
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Robredo said the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) may step in to investigate and punish alleged abuses in the country’s drug war, but only if Philippine authorities fail to investigate and punish those involved in irregularities.
In July this year, In the UN Human Rights Council also passed a resolution to probe 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.
Robredo also pushed for an evidence-based approach to the drug problem, saying it should be seen from the lens of a public health problem.
A top anti-drug official from the Philippine National Police on Sunday said Luzon remains the biggest drug problem area.
In an interview on radio dzBB, PNP-Drug Enforcement Group deputy chief for operations Police Lt. Col. Alex dela Cerna said their data show that Luzon is a big problem as it has the biggest population among the three major islands.
In related developments:
The President’s aide, Senator Christopher Go, mocked Robredo for her “zero killing” target, saying drug lords and pushers should not be treated with kids gloves.
Cavite Rep. Elipidio Barzaga Jr. on Sunday appealed to Robredo’s detractors to set aside politics and to give her the opportunity to do her work as the country’s new anti-drug czar.
Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez said with Robredo’s appointment, he plans to “convey that message to (US) senators that I am going to meet in a couple of weeks in that we are trying to do to address this issue on human rights which I am sure the Vice President will be able to see for herself what the situation is like.”
“There is no doubt that this drug war has caused a lot of problems for the country in terms of our image abroad. But the acceptance of VP Robredo is a very laudable one. Because it only goes to show that we are a country that in times of trouble, we will get together. And her joining the particular body shows that she herself is willing to contribute to this very big problem that the country has,” Romualdez said. With Macon Ramos-Araneta, Rio N. Araja
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