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Robredo willing to appear in Congress to discuss drug war report

/ 04:57 AM January 13, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo on Sunday expressed willingness to attend Congressional hearings to discuss her findings and recommendations on the Duterte administration’s war on illegal drugs, which she has called a “massive failure.”

This was in response to Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano’s pronouncements that the House of Representatives was prepared to hold a “nonconfrontational”hearing with the Vice President, following the release of her report as former cochair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (Icad).

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“I really want to be invited so that I will have an official platform to discuss my report. I hope I can be invited at the soonest possible time,”Robredo said in her weekly radio show.

“I won’t find any problem even if there will be a confrontation, because I carry with me the truth and I have nothing to fear,”she said, adding that her appearance in Congress would also allow lawmakers to see that the accusations against her and her report are baseless.

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Her 40-page report, which she released last week, detailed the administration’s failure to curb the illegal drug supply and holistically address the country’s drug problem, despite its aggressive campaign since 2016 that has led to thousands of deaths.

Citing figures from government agencies, Robredo said less than 1 percent of “shabu,” or crystal meth, out of the estimated total consumption in the country had been seized by the government in the past three years.

While lauding Icad agencies for their hard work in the counternarcotics program, the Vice President highlighted the gaps in the antidrug campaign, such as the lack of clear and reliable baseline data on the illegal drug situation and the disproportionate focus on street-level enforcement.

Administration officials and allies quickly questioned her data and dismissed her report as a mere political attack against President Rodrigo Duterte.

Even Cayetano called the report a “very unfair” assessment, saying that her conclusion does not support the facts that she has presented.

But Robredo stood by her findings, stressing that all the data she cited were sourced from government agencies themselves. “If they dismiss it as a mere political [attack], it just means they did not read the report,” she said.

As for their doubts on her figures, she urged the different Icad agencies, particularly the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, to talk among themselves and agree on the numbers that they present to the public.

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TAGS: Drug war, ICAD, Leni Robredo, Rodrigo Duterte
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