Exchange of tirades continue over VP’s drug war report


VICE PRESIDENT Maria Leonor G. Robredo defended her report tagging the Duterte administration’s drug war as a “massive failure,” citing that her office was “very careful” in its preparation and that all data were taken from government agencies. “We were very, very careful sa pag-finalize ng (in finalizing the) report. Hindi kami gagamit ng datos na hindi nanggaling sa mga ahensya (We would not use data that did not come from the agencies),” she said during Wednesday’s Kapihan sa Manila Bay forum that was streamed on Facebook. Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Chief Aaron N. Aquino earlier said the report were based on “wild assumptions.” The opposition Liberal Party (LP), where Ms. Robredo is chair, also slammed PDEA over its criticism on the report. “Why are they criticizing the data mentioned by Vice President Leni in her report when they were the ones who submitted these numbers during her short stint as co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD),” LP Vice President for External Affairs Lorenzo R. Tañada III said in a statement on Wednesday. Ms. Robredo on Monday presented her findings over her 18-day stint as co-chair of the ICAD, during which she was in constant consultation with Mr. Aquino. She also showed her recommendations to improve the government’s approach in its anti-illegal drug campaign. She described the campaign as a “failure” as the administration managed to seize only 1% of the total drug supply in the country, since its launch in 2016. She had recommended that the government shift in the supply side of the illegal drug trade as well as in its prevention, rehabilitation and reintegration.

Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III, a former chair of the Dangerous Drugs Board, likewise criticized Ms. Robredo. “I’ve been in this war for 31 years and I know how complex the problem is,” Mr. Sotto told reporters over phone message on Wednesday. “The drug problem is not explained by numbers alone. It is deeper than mere arithmetic.” Mr. Sotto further argued that Ms. Robredo’s assessment is not reflected in the popularity of President Rodrigo R. Duterte. “The President’s high approval ratings after three years, is incompatible with a grand failure accusation. People deterred from illegal drugs do not raise their arms to be surveyed,” he said, claiming that more families feel safer now. Meanwhile, House Speaker Alan Peter S. Cayetano said the report is “unfair” and that the facts she presented do not support her conclusion. “I think very unfair ‘yung assessment kasi ‘yung (because the) facts nandun pero ‘yung conclusion niya (are there but the conclusion) does not support the facts,” said Mr. Cayetano, who previously served as Mr. Duterte’s foreign affairs chief. He added that the House of Representatives is ready to hold a hearing anytime to discuss the drug war with officials from PDEA, ICAD, the police, and Ms. Robredo. — Genshen L. Espedido and Charmaine A. Tadalan