Vice President Leni Robredo met with Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director General Aaron Aquino on Friday, Nov. 8, 2019, prior to the first Inter-agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs meeting that she called as she leads the government's anti-drug campaign.
OVP/Charlie Villegas
Robredo: Look at drug issue as medical, sociological problem
Patricia Lourdes Viray ( - November 8, 2019 - 2:56pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government should not just look at the drug menace solely as a problem of crime, Vice President Leni Robredo said Friday.

Robredo met with Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director General Aaron Aquino, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez and Dangerous Drugs Board chief Catalino Cuy after accepting her role as co-chairperson of the Inter-agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD).

In a televised press conference after the vice president's first meeting with the committee, Robredo said drug addiction is a serious problem that the country is facing.

"I am all for a strong national policy against illegal drugs and I am all for a vigorous anti-drugs campaign," Robredo said.

The vice president, however, said the government should take measures within the bounds of law in addressing the country's drug problem.

"We should also look at it not just using the lens of crimes or criminal justice but also using the lens of health and the fact that addiction is a medical and a sociological problem," she said.

Robredo maintained her position that she is against senseless killings in the conduct of the government's anti-narcotics campaign.

The vice president noted that "Operation Tokhang" has gained a "certain level of notoriety" as a "war against the poor."

"I think it is upon us to change this notion. Maybe it is time for us to rethink the campaign in such a way that it will be more effective without senseless killings," Robredo said in a mix of English and Filipino.

Citing President Rodrigo Duterte's previous statement that there are 7 to 8 million drug dependents in the country, Robredo renewed her call to reassess the drug war as this number is staggering.

Robredo considers her designation in the ICAD as Duterte's signal that he is open to listen to a "fresh perspective" on the campaign against illegal drugs.

"I also want to look at it as an agreement that it is time for us to objectively assess what we have been doing over the past years," she said.

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