VP Leni to meet with US Embassy officials on anti-drug campaign

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 12 2019 07:25 PM | Updated as of Nov 12 2019 08:08 PM

MANILA (UPDATE) - Vice President Leni Robredo is set to meet officials from the United States Embassy in Manila on Wednesday to discuss possible American assistance in the country's campaign against narcotics following her appointment as co-chair of government's anti-drug body. 

“'Yung sa atin lang gusto nating malaman how we can ask help. Hindi siguro sa enforcement pero pareho din sa United Nations,” Robredo said in an interview Tuesday on the sidelines of a women's forum in Pasay City. 

(For us, we just want to know how we can ask help. Maybe not on enforcement but the same with the United Nations.)

“Marami na din silang aral. Gusto nating malaman anong resources 'yung available lalo na sa intelligence. Medyo kailangan natin ng malaking tulong sa pagtugis sa malalaking drug lords. Baka doon tayo matulungan,” she said. 

(They have a lot of lessons. We want to learn which resources would be available for us, especially intelligence. We can ask help going after drug lords. Maybe they can help us there.)

Robredo said she also wants to listen to what the US Embassy can offer. She said the panel was seeking help from the international community, not just the US. 

“Kasi ang problema sa droga hindi iyong unique sa atin,” she said. “Hindi natin mareresolba na tayo lang. Kailangan talaga nating makipagtulungan sa ibang bansa.”

(Because the drug problem is not unique to us. We can’t resolve it on our own. We need to work with other countries.)

She said these include neighboring countries, especially those where illegal drugs come from.

There is no confirmation yet if the meeting will include the US ambassador.

The Philippines and US have long been cooperating in anti-drug efforts, sharing intelligence information that has led to major drug busts. The US has also been providing training on drug enforcement and rehabilitation. 

FACING HOUSE COMMITTEE

Robredo said she was also open to facing the House Committee on Dangerous Drugs, which said it would soon invite the vice president to lay down her plans in her new role in governments drug war. 

“Ako gustong gusto ko 'yun kasi magiging platform 'yun para mailahad natin yung bagong direksyon ng kampanyang ito,” she said.

(I really want that because it can be a platform to present the new direction of this campaign.)

Robredo earlier said the revamped drug campaign would focus on preventing unnecessary killings - the main point of criticism against the drug war initiated by President Rodrigo Duterte. 

Robredo reiterated that the campaign would involve all sectors and not just the government, that a large part of it would be focused on prevention.

Robredo also earlier met with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), which sought a meeting with her after she was appointed co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD).

She said she asked for data and best practices of other countries when it comes to addressing the illegal drug problem.

Robredo said she liked that a large part of the UNODC’s work involves community-based rehabilitation and harm reduction.

“We’ll study that. Especially since we have a lot of civil society groups taking the same path,” she said.