Robredo: Evidence-based, data-driven campaign needed vs illegal drugs

Ratziel San Juan - Philstar.com
Robredo: Evidence-based, data-driven campaign needed vs illegal drugs
Vice President Leni Robredo on Tuesday said she intends on consulting experts for data and best practices to avoid the mistakes made by the administration in the first three years of the drug war.
The STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — Amid criticism that her drug approach is “all talk,” Vice President Leni Robredo said she intends to consult experts for data and best practices, although she said that does not mean the Philippines should just copy from other countries.

"Gusto natin maging evidence-based. Gusto natin na mate-take into consideration yung lahat ng lessons na nakuha ng ibang bansa," Robredo, co-chairperson of the Inter-agency Committee on Anti-illegal Drugs, told reporters on Tuesday.

(We want evidence-based solutions. We want to take all of the lessons of others countries into consideration.)

“Mahirap kasi yung parang bira lang nang bira tapos walang namang plano [at] hindi data-driven. Kasi papaano tayo magta-target kung hindi natin alam kung sino yung ita-target natin.”

(It would be harder in the long run if we just keep going without any real plans or data-driven solutions. How would we set targets if we don’t know who we’re targeting?)

There are more than 6,000 recorded killings in the government's drug war as of 2019 based on official figures, but human rights advocates claim the death toll could be as high as 27,000.

A study from the Columbia Journalism School also found that police figures underreport drug war killings.

Robredo said meetings will be held weekly with ICAD's four clusters – Enforcement, Justice, Advocacy, and Rehabilitation and Reintegration, as well as with other qualified organizations and experts in order to hear all the important perspectives.

The vice president has already met with a representative of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and will meet with US Embassy officials on Wednesday.

Robredo also clarified that learning from the examples of other countries does not mean replicating their drug approaches.

“Hindi ko sasabihin na gagayahin natin as it is kasi pwedeng iba naman yung circumstances dito sa'tin.” Robredo said.

(I’m not saying that we should copy them as it is since circumstances in other countries could be different from ours.)

“Pero 'yun yung gustong sabihin ng evidence-based. Meron nang datos eh. Kailangan na lang nating pag-aralan.”

(But that’s what evidence-based means. The data already exists. We just need to study it.)

Cayetano: Robredo 'all talk'

The vice president’s ICAD approach, however, has been criticized by House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano (Taguig) as mere rhetoric.

"I’ve been monitoring for the last three days, and it’s like from ‘Operation Tokhang,’ it became ‘Operation All Talk.’ Well, I was surprised. I guess it just so happens that the vice president is the media’s favorite, or she likes media exposure,” Cayetano said in a mix of English and Filipino in an interview over CNN Philippines’ The Source.

Meanwhile, the Commission on Human Rights expressed hope that Robredo's drug war approach would be more humane.

“Being a vocal advocate of human rights, we hope that this translates into the better observance of human rights standards, including greater transparency in drug operations,” CHR spokesperson Jacqueline De Guia said.

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