MANILA - Vice President Leni Robredo can now make "informed criticism" on the drug war instead of grounding her opposition on "baseless allegation," an interior and local government official said Thursday.
Robredo can give "fresh perspectives and alternative strategies" on the government's drug war following her acceptance as co-chair for the anti-illegal drug committee, according to DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya.
"I’m speaking on a personal level, I think the Vice President's criticism in so far as numbers are concerned are not grounded on facts," he said, referring to the number of drug suspects killed under the Duterte administration.
"The numbers being floated around are unreasonable and unfair to the law enforcement agencies who are putting their lives on the line everyday."
Some 6,000 drug suspects have been killed since President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office in 2016, but rights groups say the figure is at least three times higher.
Robredo's co-chairmanship will give state agencies a chance to brief her on the "realities on the ground," Malaya said.
"On the part of government agencies, it’s an opportunity for us to brief her on the status of the anti-drug war. On the part of the Vice President, it is an opportunity for her to infuse new ideas and alternative strategies to the anti-drug campaign," he said.
Malaya said the Vice President would be best suited to lead the rehabilitation cluster, as ICAD and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency chief Aaron Aquino earlier said.
"If the Vice President's priority is for her to consider the drug problem as a health problem, have more rehabilitation programs for drug dependents, I think she would be in a best position to influence the rehabilitation cluster," Malaya said.
The DILG will also give Robredo the "necessary assistance and support," he added.
Malaya said intelligence reports will be "readily available" to Robredo if she requests for these but added that she may need to discuss with the President the extent of her authority, citing Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo's remarks Wednesday.
Malaya also echoed Panelo in denying that the Vice President was being set up for failure.
"The failure of the Vice President as co-chairperson of the ICAD is also the failure of the anti-drug war, it is not in anyone’s interest for the Vice President to fail," he said.
"We are professionals, we follow what the President has directed. We’re here to make that co-chairmanship a success."