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VP finds bodhi

She suggested the inclusion of the advocates and different civil society organizations to ensure that there will be no more senseless killings.

Kristina Maralit

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Leni wades into war Vice President Leni Robredo as anti-drugs czarina convenes the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs with Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency director Aaron Aquino (left), Dangerous Drug Board Chairman Catalino Cuy (third from left) and Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año. Drug dependence is a medical and sociological problem, she said. ANALY LABOR

On her first full day as the anti-drugs czarina of President Rodrigo Duterte, Vice President Leni Robredo claimed enlightenment after a meeting with officials of the Inter-Agency Committee Against Illegal Drugs (ICAD) but raised the need for “additional metrics,” which she did not specify.

In a press conference she presided with Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency director general Aaron Aquino following the ICAD meeting, Robredo admitted to have a better perspective of the administration’s war on drugs after each cluster explained their respective “framework.”

She, however, suggested the “inclusion of the advocates and different civil society organizations” to ensure that there will be no more “senseless killings.”

“I was very emphatic from the opening until the closing. The killings diminish all the hard work that all the agencies have been putting into this,” Robredo stated.

“I was listening to the clusters of different agencies. My view is, whatever is bad should be changed because the good is what should be magnified and strengthened,” she added.

Moving on

Robredo, likewise, said while she is still waiting for the Palace to outline her exact duties and responsibilities as Aquino’s co-chairperson of ICAD, they all “should buckle down to business.”

She noted that she will be calling for meetings with each cluster of the committee beginning with the one made up of all law enforcement agencies.

She then turned to Aquino and told him “not to worry” about his previous remarks about her.

To recall, the PDEA chief earlier said that Robredo has “a lot of catching up to do and in the process PDEA is afraid that it will somehow derail its efforts and operations.”

“Let’s move forward and work together,” Robredo said.

In response, Aquino expressed he is now “at home” with Robredo and that he is pleased with how the latter “has more understanding.”

“Hopefully in the coming ICAD meetings, she will learn a lot more,” he stated.

Aquino also extended an invite to Robredo, which she accepted, to “join in on the operations” one of these days to get a feel of how the law enforcers “work on the ground.”

“You will see the actual problems if you are there on the ground and hopefully see if there are lapses and point them out,” he said.

Rhetoric still

Initially, Robredo called for a shift in strategy in carrying out the government’s campaign against narcotics.

In her opening remarks, she called on the committee to explore other avenues to address the problem and stop what she described as the senseless killings, particularly of the poor, in the war on drugs.

“Because of the many senseless killings that accompanied police operations, it has reached a certain level of notoriety that when you say tokhang, it is a war against the poor,” Robredo, who accepted the post two days ago, said.

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