Robredo hails SC order to release drug war files
MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo said Wednesday that the Supreme Court’s decision to release the data on the war against illegal drugs is a ‘giant step’ towards attaining justice for the families of the slain drug suspects.
“Ang laking… parang, giant step ito, iyong desisyon ng Supreme Court, kasi matagal nang pinag-aawayan ilan ba talaga iyong namatay sa ngalan ng drug war,” Robredo said in an interview with reporters in Atimonan, Quezon on Wednesday.
(This decision of the Supreme Court is a giant step because several camps have long wanted to determine how many have died in the government’s drug war.)
The Vice President said she had tried to obtain a copy of the documents from the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) herself, but both agencies snubbed her.
“Ako mismo, ako mismo, sumulat iyong aming opisina sa PNP, sumulat kami sa DILG, nagtatanong, pero hindi naman kami sinasagot (We ent a letter to the PNP and the DILG, but they never answered),” she claimed.
“Kailangan iyong pamahalaan maging transparent. At nagpapasalamat tayo na kahit papaano, mayroon nang order na gawing publiko iyong records, kasi iyong katarungan naman, matatanggap lang iyon ng mga naging biktima, ng mga pamilya ng naging biktima, kapag alam iyong datos,” she added.
(The government needs to be transparent. And we are thankful that there is already an order to make the records public. Justice will only be served to the victims and their families if the data is known).
On Tuesday, the high court ordered the Solicitor General to furnish the Center for International Law (CenterLaw) and the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) copies of the records of “Oplan Tokhang.”
Tokhang, a play with the word “toktok” (to knock ) and the Visayan word “hangyo” (to plead), is the PNP’s program against drug usage. It was coined by former senatorial candidate Ronald Dela Rosa, President Rodrigo Duterte’s first appointed PNP chief.
With the SC order, Solicitor General Jose Calida is required to submit data on the drug war and its casualties within 60 days.
Robredo said the decision is important in seeking accountability from cops allegedly involved in summary executions and extra-judicial killings.
“Kasi hanggang hindi alam iyong datos, paano natin hahabulin iyong mga nagkasala? Kaya sana—important first step ito na sana tuloy-tuloy na iyong quest para bigyan sila ng katarungan,” she said.
(With the data, how are we going to run after the culprits? So this is an important first step and I hope this continues to aid our quest for justice.)
Earlier this week, Robredo claimed that Duterte’s admission that the number of drug users has increased is indicative of a worsening drug menace, and may be an indication that the violent approach to the drug war may not be the answer.
Since Duterte took office in 2016, government numbers show that more than 5,000 have been killed in a drug war. Opposition groups say, however, that the actual count may be between 11,000 and 30,000. /ee