VP Robredo wants Oplan Tokhang scrapped

Marje Pelayo   •   November 8, 2019   •   475

A Filipino who had exhibited suspicious behavior raises his arms in front of operatives of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) during an anti-illegal drugs operation in Makati City, east of Manila, Philippines, 06 April 2017.Operatives were in pursuit of two alleged drug pushers in the area, as one female suspect was arrested and at least three other individuals were held by authorities after exhibiting suspicious behavior while the anti-illegal drugs operation was conducted. EPA/ROLEX DELA PENA

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo has started her duty as the newly appointed co-chairperson of the government’s anti-drug campaign.

First in her agenda was to convene all members of the Interagency Committee on Anti-Drugs (ICAD) together with her co-chair, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Aaron Aquino.

During the press briefing, Robredo called for a replacement of the Operation Tokhang or Oplan Tokhang as a method of apprehending drug personalities.

“Because of the many senseless killings that accompanied Operation Tokhang, parang naka-reach siya ng certain level of notoriety na kapag sinabing ‘Tokhang,’ it is a war against the poor,” Robredo said.

(Because of the many senseless killings that accompanied Operation Tokhang, it seems to have reached a certain level of notoriety that when you say ‘Tokhang,’ it is a war against the poor.)

“It is incumbent upon us na mabago iyong kaisipian na iyon. Baka panahon na para pag-isipan natin iyong pagpalit ng isang kampanya na mas epektibo pero walang namamatay senselessly,” she added.

(It is incumbent upon us to change that notion. Maybe it’s time to think about replacing this with a more effective campaign that is without the senseless killings.)

Robredo said she wants to believe that President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to hand over the anti-drug campaign implies that the Chief Executive is “open to listening to a fresh perspective about the entire campaign.”

And although she said she wants a vigorous campaign against illegal drugs, it should be within the bounds of the rule of law.

Robredo also emphasized the need to consider the problem of illegal drugs as criminality but a medical and sociological problem.

The Vice President requested to be briefed on the current status of the government’s anti-drug campaign and be provided with access to all data and documents in relation to the program.

“Gusto ko pong malaman kung saan ako magsisimula (I want to know where to start),” she said.

Despite being a staunch critic of the campaign, Robredo commended the ‘successes’ of the administration’s drug war specifically the recent haul of illegal drugs from various operations.

But Robredo expressed concern over the increasing number of drug dependents despite the efforts and resources that have been exerted by all anti-drug agencies working on the campaign.

“Why don’t we re-assess? Ano ba iyong mabubuting ginagawa? Para iyong mga effective na ginagawa ay ipagpapatuloy natin. Pero ano ba yung mga ginagawa na hindi nagbibigay sa atin ng desired results?” she said.

(Why don’t we re-assess? What are the good things being done? So that the effective ones will be continued. But let us think also of the things that we were doing that didn’t bring us our desired results.)

“Iyon ang pag-isipan natin (We should think about those things),” she said further.

After Robredo addressed the media, Aquino requested them to leave to give the Committee time to discuss important matters in relation to their duty.

The PDEA chief promised to take questions from the press alongside Robredo after the meeting.

Duterte calls Robredo a ‘colossal blunder’ for her drug war report

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 8, 2020

President Rodrigo Duterte slammed Vice President Leni Robredo for her anti-drug war failure remark and called her a “colossal blunder”.

“You know, for all of these years, she has done nothing. She is a colossal blunder,” Duterte said.

The chief executive also slammed the election results saying, “You know, I hate to say this, but how many voters are there in the Philippines? And you just do away with the 200,000 plus that she got as a majority over Marcos. It was really a mistake. With a slim margin and you talk big.”

Robredo, on Monday (January 6) released a report and recommendations on the government’s war on drugs. She also called the government’s drug war a “failure” which gained backlash from the Palace, lawmakers, and the President.

Based on her report, only 1% of illegal drugs were seized by authorities from 2016 to 2018. She also recommended that the chairmanship of ICAD be transferred from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) to the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB).

The president said Robredo cannot lecture him since she has only been a co-chair of the Inter-agency Committee on Anti-illegal Drugs (ICAD) for 18 days.

“If ever she becomes president, gawin niya iyon (she should do it). Pero (but) she can’t lecture me what to do,” he said. “As a lawyer lecturing on me, well, she should revisit her record I suggest.”—AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

PNP reiterates drug war successful, Robredo’s figures ‘totally wrong’

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 7, 2020

The Philippine National Police (PNP) reiterated that the government’s war on drugs is a success, contrary to the figures reported by Vice President Leni Robredo.

PNP Officer-in-Charge Archie Gamboa said the campaign against illegal drugs was one hundred percent successful; this was after Robredo called the drug war unsuccessful during her report on Monday (January 6).

“Whether her numbers are merely an estimate or the exact value, in any case, the figure derived is totally wrong,” Gamboa said.

Gamboa also said that since 2016, they already destroyed 14 clandestine drug laboratories and 419 drugs dens.

The PNP had also confiscated around P40.39 billion worth of illegal drugs. These include 5.1 tons of shabu, 2.3 tons of marijuana, 500 kilos of cocaine, and over 42,000 pieces of the party drug, ecstasy.

Authorities have also arrested 220,728 individuals in 2016, with 8,185 high value targets.

Gamboa also reported that 5,552 drug personalities and 55 policemen were killed during illegal drug operations. Meanwhile, a total of 16,706 barangays are drug-free.

Gamboa said Robredo’s appreciation of statistics in her report was not mathematically acceptable. He also said that her 18 days as the co-chairman in the Inter-agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) was not enough for her to provide estimates of the totality of the illegal drug campaign.

“Ang ginawa niya kin-quote niya iyong PDEG (What she did was, she quoted the PDEG) [Philippine National Police Drug Enforcement Group] that there are three tons of consumption per week for the drug problem of the Philippines and then in-equate niya ito sa drug recovered (then she equated it with the drugs recovered),” he said.

“Iyong appreciation niya doon sa statistics na iyon is wrong. Kung ganiyan ang appreciation niya (Her appreciation of the statistics is wrong. If that is her appreciation) it’s quite risky because if you have little knowledge that you present it could be very risky,” Gamboa added.

Meanwhile, the PNP official said despite the success of the government’s drug war, regional directors and head of national support units are doubling their efforts in the government’s war on drugs, terrorism, criminality, and corruption.—AAC (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

Palace on VP Robredo’s anti-drug report: ‘Nothing new’

Marje Pelayo   •   January 6, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo criticized Vice President Leni Robredo’s revelations of what she claimed as her discovery during her short stint as the anti-drug czar.

In response to her press briefing Monday (January 6), the Palace said it was Robredo who failed as the co-chairperson of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD), and not the Duterte Administration’s campaign against illegal drugs.

“Palagay ko ang failure ay ang pag-upo niya (I think the real failure is when she took the post),” Panelo said.

Robredo spent only 18 days in the ICAD before President Rodrigo Duterte dismissed her from the position due to a lack of trust.

As for the figures that the Vice President divulged before the press, the Palace official said they were wrong and all anti-drug law enforcement agencies could attest to that.

Panelo argued that in comparison to Robredo, the President has unlimited resources when it comes to the government’s war on drugs as compare to her who knows nothing about the campaign.

“I think she just wants to be relevant,” Panelo said.

“It’s a dud. Wala naman siyang sinabing bago na hindi tinututukan ng mga ahensya na involved sa laban droga (There was nothing new with what she said that anti-drugs agencies didn’t address. There’s nothing new in what she said),” Panelo concluded. MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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