VICE PRESIDENT Maria Leonor G. Robredo yesterday said she has called for a meeting of an interagency body against illegal drugs after her appointment as President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s drug czar.
The call for a meeting with the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD), which she co-heads showed her dedication, presidential spokesman Salvador S. Panelo said at a separate briefing in Malacañang.
Ms. Robredo, who has criticized the anti-drug war that has killed thousands, also said she was looking forward to working with Senator Panfilo M. Lacson and learning from his insights and experience as a former police chief.
“I’m grateful that he offered his help and support as I take on this new responsibility,” the vice president said in a separate statement.
Mr. Lacson on Wednesday said he was “willing to humbly share whatever modest law enforcement experience I gained in my previous life.”
Ms. Robredo on Wednesday said she had agreed to head the Duterte administration’s anti-illegal drug campaign, if only to stop the killings.
The vice president accepted the post against the advice of many of her party mates, who said the appointment might be a trap.
She said she had accepted the president’s offer to become his drug czar — even if this could just be politicking — so she could save innocent lives.
Philippine police have said they have killed about 6,000 people in illegal drug raids, many of them resisting arrest. Some local nongovernmental organizations and the national Commission on Human Rights have placed the death toll at more than 27,000.
Mr. Panelo said Mr. Duterte and Ms. Robredo had yet to discuss the scope of her powers.
Meanwhile, 124 applicants started their six-month training to become agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), the agency said in a statement.
The trainees consisted of 51 men and 73 women, who took their oath of commitment at the PDEA Academy at Camp General Mariano Castañeda in Silang, Cavite province.
“If they passed the training, they will become bona fide members of the country’s premier anti-drug law agency,” said PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino, who-heads the ICAD with Ms. Robredo. “These individuals will boost the government’s campaign to clear our country of illegal drugs by 2022.”
The latest batch of trainees will be trained on basic management and leadership, communications, community-based anti-illegal drug advocacy, legal studies, intelligence, tactics, interdiction operations and investigation, PDEA said.
Mr. Aquino earlier told CNN Philippines he doubted Ms. Robredo could lead the government’s anti-drug campaign given her lack of experience. — Gillian M. Cortez