Vice President Leni Robredo shares a conversation with PDEA Dir. Gen. Aaron Aquino, Dinalupihan Mayor Gila Garcia, and several officials during her visit to the town on Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019. Joining them were (L-R): PNP Central Luzon Regional Director Brig. Gen. Rhodel Sermonia, Provincial Director Col. Villamor Tulliao, PDEA Regional Director Lyndon Aspacio, and Dinalupihan Municipal Administrator Rolly Rojas.
Office of the Vice President/Jay Ganzon
'Our enemy is drugs, not the people': Robredo hails Bataan's rehab-based anti-drug campaign
Kristine Joy Patag ( - November 20, 2019 - 5:08pm

MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo on Thursday lauded the rehabilitation-based anti-drug campaign of the Bataan government that she said “saves those who did wrong.”

Robredo and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director General Aaron Aquino—her co-chairperson on the Inter-agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs—went to Dinalupihan, Bataan to commemorate the third anniversary of the Bahay Pagbabago Community-Based Reformation Center there.

Speaking at the event, Robredo cited Mayor Gila Garcia who she said referred to the drug problem as an "illness of society" that the government should address.

A transcript of her speech was sent to reporters.

"Our enemy is drugs, and not the people. Because drugs are our enemy, this is our fight. This is not the fight of those who made mistakes, not the fight of their family alone, but this is our fight," she said in Filipino.

When Robredo first met with the ICAD, she stressed that the government should not look at the drug menace as a purely crime problem, and urged it to “use the lens of health.”

She has earlier stressed that drug addiction “is a medical and sociological problem.”

Robredo also met with officials of the Department of Heath where she committed to help push for better funding to acquire more manpower for rehabilitation centers.

RELATED: Robredo is meeting with UN reps this week. Here's what the UN has said about drugs and 'drug wars'

‘Not everyone has this kind of program’

The vice president also hailed the cooperation among the local government unit of Dinalupihan, Bataan, the Philippine National Police, the PDEA, the provincial government and civil society groups in “saving those who did wrong.”

“You know, you are very lucky. Not all places are in this situation: Not all areas have this kind of program,” she said in Filipino.

The vice president stressed that prevention should be the focus in the campaign against illegal drugs.

The PNP last August said there are at least 6,847 suspected drug offenders killed in supposed shootouts since July 1, 2016 to July 31 this year. But rights groups put the toll of the bloody drug war to more than 20,000.

The policy-making Dangerous Drugs Board said in October, that there were 54 treatment and rehabilitation facilities that reported to the Treatment and Rehabilitation Information System in 2018.

DDB said 5,447 admissions were recorded that year, 5,188 of which were new cases. Another 171 were relapsed cases while 88 sought treatment in an out-patient facility.

It said there was a 34.66-percent increase in admissions against figures in 2017.

On Tuesday, Robredo visited Market 3 in Navotas, one of the areas hardest hit by the "war on drugs."

The vice president, whose powers as ICAD chair has been clipped, said she will continue visiting other areas to find more inspiring narratives in the government’s continued campaign against illegal drugs.

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