Police: Vice President didn’t commit missteps

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VICE President Maria Leonor G. Robredo did not commit “missteps” as President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s drug czar, Philippine police said yesterday, contradicting the presidential palace.

“We haven’t really noticed any report or missteps but in the continuing discussion, of course there is that exchange of ideas,” Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesman Brigadier General Bernard M. Banac told the ABS-CBN News Channel.

Mr. Duterte fired the opposition leader whom he put in charge of his deadly war on drugs late Sunday, days after her appointment. His spokesman Salvador S. Panelo earlier said Ms. Robredo “had it coming,” citing her missteps including meeting with officials of the United States Embassy and United Nations.

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.

PNP was open to Ms. Robredo’s suggestions so it can improve the campaign against high-value targets and promote community-based drug rehabilitation, Mr. Banac said in a separate statement.

Mr. Banac said five regions remained notorious for the illegal drug trade, namely Metro Manila, Central Luzon, Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon), Central Visayas and Western Visayas.

Also yesterday, Ms. Robredo’s co-head in the Duterte administration’s anti-drug drive yesterday dared her to divulge her findings on the campaign.

“I am personally encouraging VP Leni Robredo to make her revelations,” Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director-General Aaron Aquino said in a statement.

Mr. Aquino said he had no problem with the vice president reporting to the public what she had found out about the anti-drug campaign during her short stint.

Ms. Robredo had said she would reveal what she had uncovered while head of the Interagency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs.

Mr. Aquino said Ms. Robredo’s findings would help them improve the anti-illegal drug campaign.

Human Rights Watch on Monday criticized Mr. Duterte for firing the vice president “on ludicrous grounds.” It said the president was never even remotely sincere, and that his appointment of Ms. Robredo was a “total sham.”

Ms. Robredo this month said she had agreed to head the Duterte administration’s anti-illegal drug campaign, if only to stop the killings. She accepted the post against the advice of many of her party mates, who said the appointment might be a trap.

The opposition leader has vowed to enforce the state’s anti-illegal drug campaign within the bounds of the law. She said she would treat the drug problem not only as a crime, but also as a health issue. — Emmanuel Tupas, Philippine Star