MANILA (UPDATE) - Vice President Leni Robredo on Wednesday met with a United States delegation to discuss possible partnerships to help combat the illegal drug menace.
In a statement sent to media, Robredo said they had a “comprehensive” briefing with representatives of the International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs of the US State Department, the US Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the US Agency for International Development (USAID).
Recently appointed to co-chair the country's anti-drug council, Robredo said the US agencies shared their respective programs in the Philippines that are related to the anti-illegal drugs campaign.
“Napag-usapan din ang mga kakulangan sa kasalukuyang kampanya at ang mga tulong na maaari pa nilang maibigay para lalong paigtingin ang kampanya laban sa droga,” the Vice President said.
(We discussed the deficiencies of the current campaign and the assistance they can still give to further intensify the campaign against illegal drugs.)
“Kabilang dito ang pagkakaroon ng malinaw na baseline data tungkol sa sitwasyon ng droga sa bansa, pag-aralan ang mga maaaring pag-amyenda sa Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act para tiyaking angkop pa rin ito sa ating kasalukuyang pangangailangan, at ang pagpapalakas ng mga programa para sa drug use prevention at community-based drug rehabilitation,” she added.
(This includes having clear baseline data on the situation of drugs in the country, studies on the possible amendment of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act to ensure that it is apt for our current needs, and the strengthening of our programs on drug use prevention and community-based drug rehabilitation.)
In an emailed statement, the US Embassy said the US agencies discussed “the current state of US-Philippines counter-narcotics cooperation” and “ongoing and potential US government funded programs to assist the Philippine government efforts in drug demand reduction.”
Robredo said her office has a long-standing relationship with the US Embassy, working on various projects together.
“Nagpapasalamat ako na naging agaran ang kanilang pakikipagkita sa akin matapos ang aking pagkakatalaga,” she said.
“Ipinahiwatig nila ang kanilang buong suporta at kooperasyon sa ating kampanya laban sa iligal na droga. At, bilang kaibigan ng Pilipinas, gagawin nila ang lahat para tayo ay magtagumpay sa laban na ito.”
(I thank them for immediately meeting with me after my appointment [as co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs]. They expressed their full support and cooperation in our campaign against illegal drugs. And as a friend of the Philippines, they will be doing everything to help us succeed in this fight.)
Robredo earlier told media that she wanted to meet with the US Embassy to learn how the American government could help, especially in intelligence or information sharing to capture drug lords.
The two countries have long been cooperating when it comes to counter-narcotics efforts, from providing training to sharing information that has led to major drug busts.
Since President Rodrigo Duterte appointed her co-chair of ICAD last week, Robredo has discussed her plans to shift the government’s bloody drug war towards a more “humane approach," and to stop "unnecessary" killings.
On Wednesday, Robredo also lauded on Twitter how law enforcement agencies were able to confiscate P6.8-million worth of “shabu” in Makati and P5.7-million worth of “shabu” from Tondo, Manila “without sacrificing innocent lives.”
“Hopeful that we can continue this in our fight vs. illegal drugs,” she wrote.
While some of Robredo's allies warned her that Duterte’s offer to Robredo could be a “trap,” the Vice President said she accepted the job as she saw it as an opportunity to stop the killings.
Robredo earlier said she would also seek the help of various international and local groups.
Robredo said the Philippines could learn a lot from the experience of other countries, especially those that have successfully waged an anti-drug campaign using a public health approach.