MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo is now able to make “informed criticism” of the drug war rather than grounding her opposition on “baseless allegations,” an official of the Department of Internal and Local Government said Thursday, 07 November 2019.
According to DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya, Robredo can give “fresh perspectives and alternative strategies” on the drug war by the government following her acceptance as co-chair of the anti-illegal drug committee.
“I’m speaking on a personal level, I think the Vice President’s criticism in so far as numbers are concerned are not grounded on facts,” he said, referring to the number of drug suspects killed under the Duterte administration.
“The numbers being floated around are unreasonable and unfair to the law enforcement agencies who put their lives on the line every day.”
Since President Rodrigo Duterte took office in 2016, some 6,000 drug suspects have been killed, although rights groups say the number is at least three times higher.
The co-chairing of Robredo would give state agencies the opportunity to educate her on the “realities on the ground,” said Malaya.
“On the part of government agencies, it’s an opportunity for us to brief her on the status of the anti-drug war. On the part of the Vice President, it is an opportunity for her to infuse new ideas and alternative strategies to the anti-drug campaign,” he said.
Malaya said as ICAD and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency chief Aaron Aquino said earlier, the vice president would be better suited to lead the rehabilitation cluster.
“If the Vice President’s priority is for her to consider the drug problem as a health problem, have more rehabilitation programs for drug dependents, I think she would be in the best position to influence the rehabilitation cluster,” Malaya said.
The DILG will also provide “necessary support and assistance” to Robredo, he added.
Malaya said that intelligence reports would be “readily available” to Robredo if she asked for them, but added that she might need to address the scope of her authority with the president, referencing the remarks made by the presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo on Wednesday.
Malaya also echoed Panelo in denying that the Vice President was being set up for failure.
“The failure of the Vice President as co-chairperson of the ICAD is also the failure of the anti-drug war, it is not in anyone’s interest for the Vice President to fail,” he said.
“We are professionals, we follow what the President has directed. We’re here to make that co-chairmanship a success.” (Marian Andrei Sinamban/IAMIGO/CNS)