MANILA—Vice President Leni Robredo said Monday her upcoming report would respond to claims contained in a new government documentary and magazine defending its drug war, which has killed thousands in the past 3 years.
“Kabahagi ng report namin,” said Robredo, who put off the release of the 40-page report and instead appealed for help for victims of the magnitude 6.9 earthquake that hit Davao del Sur on Sunday.
Two days before that, Malacañang had premiered a documentary titled “Gramo” (gram) on government TV and social media accounts, defending the anti-drug campaign, which has been widely criticized by human rights groups.
A separate magazine, also released by the Presidential Communications Operations Office last week, summarized the gains of the drug war under President Rodrigo Duterte.
“Contrary to the belief that the Philippines’ war on drugs is a ‘large-scale murdering enterprise,’ the government has shown high regard for human lives,” according to the publication titled “Saving the Future of a Nation: Countering Hard Drugs.”
The government report cited 5,779 fatalities during police anti-drug operations from July 2016 to August this year.
The Philippine National Police earlier pegged the number at around 6,600 but later placed the official figure at at least 5,500 as vetted by the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs.
Robredo has repeatedly expressed concern over human rights violations in Duterte’s drug war.
During her short stint as co-chair of Duterte’s anti-drug coordinating committee, the vice president highlighted the need for community-based rehabilitation, citing studies that showed only 10 percent of users required in-patient treatment.
Malacañang spokesman Salvador Panelo hit Robredo for delaying release of her findings while sitting in the anti-narcotics body.
“What’s taking her so long?” he told reporters.
Robredo’s spokesman, lawyer Barry Gutierrez, criticized Panelo for trying to “score political points when we’re in the middle of a tragedy.”
“Kung hindi naiintindihan ni Secretary Panelo kung bakit ipinagpaubaya ng ating bise presidente ang pag-release ng report ngayong umaga pagkatapos nung lindol na nangyari kahapon, eh siguro totoong wala syang puso at malasakit para sa ating mga kababayan,” Gutierrez told reporters.