Vice President Leni Robredo on Wednesday met with representatives of the US Embassy, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Agency, Department of State and the United States Agency for International Development to discuss approaches in the country’s campaign against illegal drugs.
“We have talked about the shortcomings of the present campaign and the assistance they could extend to us to enable us to intensify the anti-drug campaign, including having clear-cut baseline data on the drug situation, to possibly amend the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act to keep abreast with the present needs and to strengthen programs on drug use prevention and community-based drug rehabilitation,” she said.
The US officials were invited by Robredo as the Interagency Committee on Anti-illegal Drugs co-chairperson to “assist the Philippine government’s efforts in drug demand reduction.”
“Our office has been coordinating with the US Embassy for the longest time. We have been helping one another in various projects,” Robredo said.
“I thank them for immediately meeting me right after my appointment. They have manifested their full support and cooperation in our campaign to stop the illegal drugs. And as a friend of the Philippines, they will do all for us to succeed in this battle,” she added.
The US Embassy said they gave a briefing on US-Philippines counter-narcotics cooperation and potential US-funded programs.
Earlier, the vice president met with United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime representatives and core members of the Community-Based Drug Rehab Alliance, a group advocating “public health-based manner of solving the demand side of the drug problem.”
The US embassy’s press attaché in Manila Heather Fabrikant confirmed that Robredo and officers from relevant US agencies met in Quezon City upon the vice president’s request.
Fabrikant said the interagency US government working-level delegation was comprised of officers from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Agency, the Department of State and US Agency for International Development.
Although future US-funded programs were discussed, no commitments have been made, Fabrikant said.
In the past, Washington and Manila have worked on strengthening drug demand reduction initiatives in the country.
In May, at least 52 officers from the Philippine National Police, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, the Philippine Public Safety College, and Xavier University attended specialized training on substance use disorders, with the goal to provide the criminal justice sector with an evidence-based, public health approach to reducing drug demand.