MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo on Thursday asked agencies comprising the law enforcement cluster of the inter-agency committee on anti-illegal drugs (ICAD) to produce by year-end a clear set of data on the government’s campaign against illegal drugs.
Robredo, who now co-leads ICAD, said this topic was among the key points discussed in her meeting with ICAD’s law enforcement cluster on Thursday morning.
“Ang unang na-highlight is as of now, walang clear baselines, so iyon ‘yung pinagtatrabahuhan. Mayroon nang efforts to do that. Iyon ang unang agreement na tapusin na iyong baselines, until the end of the year,” the vice president told reporters in an interview after the meeting.
“’Yong aming target until the end of the year, mayroon nang linaw. I think DILG would need more time to finish the information system, pero ipi-present nila sa amin on Tuesday,” she further stated.
The baseline data she is talking about refers to the number of drug users and drug dependents at the start of the campaign in 2016, as well as of surrenderers, arrested individuals, and the users undergoing rehabilitation.
Robredo stressed that having a clear set of data is important in dealing with the country’s drug problem. It will also be used to gauge the campaign’s accomplishments.
She also noted that government agencies have different drug war numbers.
“May listahan iyong barangay, may listahan iyong ibang local government units, may listahan iyong PDEA, may listahan iyong PNP. So just to harmonize all the lists,” she said.
Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Undersecretary Ricojudge Echiverri agreed with Robredo, adding that the lists submitted by some local officials are also laced with politics.
“Hindi maiiwasan yung mga barangay, imbis na ang ibigay na listahan yung mga totoo ay nilagay nila sa listahan yung mga kalaban nila sa pulitika. So, ibii-vet pa yun ng PNP at PDEA,” he said.
Echiverri also revealed cases where some local officials provide erroneous information on drug war which does not help at all as a basis for crafting an anti-drug strategy.
“Kasi ngayon po kahit kasuhan namin sila, ano legal basis? Wala, so pag nalaman nilang walang basis eh di, wala na lang, gawin ulit,” he added.
Aside from having no centralized information system on the campaign, Robredo also identified some problems in the detention of drug users and dealers along with other detainees such as in the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP).
“Kahit sa BJMP, ‘yung mga detention prisoners, nahahalo ‘yung accused of drug use sa mga hindi accused of drug use, nagkakaroon ng hawaan,” she said.
To address this, Robredo recommended the creation of a technical working group (TWG) to tackle and draft proposed measures to help improve the government’s war on drugs.
“Hopefully, by early next week meron nang TWG na before the end of the year, ang target ko nga when I get invited to the House committee on dangerous drugs, ma-present na ‘yung hinihingi na tulong from Congress,” she said.
Next week, Robredo plans to meet with the DILG, Department of Health and the Dangerous Drugs Board to discuss more on their ongoing programs in line with the anti-illegal drug campaign. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Vincent Arboleda)
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