United States officials brief Vice President Leni Robredo on US initiatives against illegal drugs during a meeting yesterday.
US officials brief Robredo on anti-drug efforts
Helen Flores (The Philippine Star) - November 14, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Phillipines — Vice President Leni Robredo sat down with US law enforcement and aid officials yesterday, during which they discussed possible stronger partnerships to boost the Philippines’ campaign against illegal drugs.

The closed-door meeting at the Quezon City Reception House was attended by officials from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Agency, Department of State and the US Agency for International Development.

“Upon request of Vice President Leni Robredo, an interagency US government working-level delegation... briefed her on the current state of US-Philippines counter-narcotics cooperation, and on ongoing and potential US government-funded programs to assist the Philippine government efforts in drug demand reduction,” the US embassy said in a statement.

Robredo did not face the media after meeting with the US officials but issued a statement describing the briefing as “comprehensive.”

The Vice President said apart from discussions on existing US-funded programs in the country against illegal narcotics, they also tackled the “flaws” in the drug war.

“We talked about the insufficiencies in the present campaign and possible assistance that they can provide to intensify the drug campaign,” she said.

Robredo said the US officials agreed that there should be a clear baseline data on the drug war.

They also tackled the possible amendment to the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act to ensure that it is still applicable to the current situation.

Robredo and the US officials likewise talked about measures to strengthen the Philippines government’s programs on drug use prevention and community-based drug rehabilitation.

On Monday, the Vice President met officials of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), where she was briefed on the “best practices” of other countries in fighting illegal drugs.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. approved of the meeting, and thanked Robredo for her “superb” move.

The Vice President met the agencies under the Inter-agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs or ICAD, where she was designated as co-chairperson last Nov. 8.

Today, she will be meeting the law enforcement cluster of ICAD, which includes PDEA, Philippine National Police and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

PNP officer-in-charge Lt. Gen. Archie Francisco Gamboa said, “We will be having a meeting with her in the law enforcement cluster so I don’t want to preempt anything there.”

He told reporters in an interview yesterday that among the topics to be discussed is the Philippine Anti-Drugs Strategy (PADS), referring to the program developed by the Dangerous Drugs Board.

Robredo’s spokesman, Barry Gutierrez, said the Vice President is expected to receive briefings from various government agencies in the coming days.

Sen. Francis Pangilinan said yesterday the country’s war on drugs needs cooperation and assistance from all sectors, including foreign experts.

“I think we should listen to, reach out to various stakeholders, offices, entities, who are interested to address this problem of illegal drugs in the country including intelligence information sharing,” he told reporters.

“The bottom line is, where are the big (drug) syndicates? How do we run after them? It’s been three years and yet these syndicates are around, as well as those who allow the entry of tons of shabu, yet they’ve not been punished,” he added.

When asked about the criticisms hurled against Robredo, including those from Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, Pangilinan said, “Let them do their worst. I think the Vice President will, in all that… just do her best.” – With Manny Tupas, Pia Lee-Brago, Paolo Romero, Delon Porcalla

LENI ROBREDO
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