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    Opening Remarks of VP Leni Robredo at the Meeting of the Inter-agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs

    Meeting of the Inter-agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs

    Quezon City Reception House

    Good afternoon.

    First of all, thank you to everyone for coming over. The members of the media are here. We requested them to come for an opening statement, and before the meeting happens, they will step out, and Director General Aquino and myself will just give them a briefing after of what transpired during the meeting.

    Again, thank you all for coming. I would like to believe that despite our differences, iisa lang naman iyong hangarin natin. Ang hangarin natin, maging matagumpay iyong kampanya laban sa ilegal na droga.

    Having said that, I would also like to believe that people expect us to go beyond the differences, and for us to work together. Kasi sa pagkakaisa, nandoon naman iyong mas madaling makamtan natin iyong ating minimithi na tagumpay sa ating paglaban sa droga.

    But before we proceed, let me just give you our own context of everything.

    Number one, I believe that drug addiction is a serious problem that our country is facing.

    Number two, I am all for a strong national policy against illegal drugs, and I am all for a vigorous anti-drug campaign. Pero having said that, I also feel that we should do things right. Everything that we’re doing should be within the bounds of the rule of law.

    Pangatlo, I do not see this as a problem of crime only. Ang kalaban po natin dito hindi iyong mga kababayan natin; ang kalaban natin dito, droga. Dahil ang kalaban natin droga, we should also look at it not just using the lens of crime, or criminal justice, but also using the lens of health and the fact that addiction is a medical and a sociological problem.

    Number four, I am all for evidence-based strategy and approach. Kaya po nag-usap kami ni General Aquino earlier. Sabi ko, this afternoon will just be a listening exercise for me. The reason why I requested for this meeting with you is gusto kong alam kung saan ako—gusto ko malaman kung saan ako magsisimula. Gusto ko pong malaman iyong datos, kasi before today, I did not have access naman to the kind of data that you had access to. So iyong ngayong hapon, maraming tanong, pero iyong request ko kay General Aquino is for all the clusters to brief me on what has transpired during the course of the three years—hindi pa naman pala three years kasi ICAD was established in 2017, March 2017, so a little over two years.

    In the past one and a half days, I have been reading all the documents that are connected with what ICAD has been doing, and nagpapasalamat po ako sa lahat na efforts na ibinuhos ng lahat sa inyo para makamtan iyong ating gustong makamtan. Just today, I was informed that we’ve had several successes. Just today we’ve had several successes. We were able to recover 1.4-million [pesos] worth of marijuana here in Quezon City. We were able to recover 9-million [pesos] worth of shabu in Cebu. We were able to recover 6 kilos of shabu at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. So sa lahat po nating law enforcement agencies, maraming salamat at congratulations.

    I have always been very vocal about my stand. Naririnig niyo naman siguro iyong stand ko about everything. The President has, on various occasions, expressed frustration on the war on drugs. In fact, I think it was in February of this year when he disclosed that the number of drug dependents had already risen to 7 to 8 million drug dependents. So iyong sa akin lang, that number is staggering. That number is staggering. And iyong sa akin, ang gusto kong maintindihan din ngayon, saan tayo nagkukulang? Kasi a lot of the agencies have been pouring out tremendous effort and resources already for this campaign, and yet ganoon pa din kataas iyong numero. So iyon iyong gusto kong maintindihan ngayon, kaya parati kong sinasabi, why don’t we reassess? Kasi I know na marami na tayong gains na natanggap, I know na marami nang mga accomplishments, pero siguro everyone will also agree with me na despite the many gains and accomplishments, marami pa din tayong kailangang gawin.

    And siguro, today is an opportunity for all of us to take stock of ano ba iyong mga mabubuting ginagawa, para iyong mga mabubuting ginagawa o iyong mga effective na ginagawa, ipagpapatuloy na gagawin. Pero ano iyong mga ginagawa na hindi nagbibigay sa atin ng mga desired results? Baka iyon iyong pag-isipan natin.

    I’ve always been very vocal about my opposition against the killings that accompanied Operation Tokhang. Iyong sa akin, iyong pagkakatok, iyong pagse-search, okay iyon, pero because of the many senseless killings that accompanied Operation Tokhang. Parang naka-reach siya ng certain level of notoriety na kapag sinabing Tokhang, it is a war against the poor. I think it is upon us, it is incumbent upon us na mabago iyong kaisipan na iyon. Baka panahon na para pag-isipan natin iyong pagpalit ng isang kampanya na mas epektibo pero walang namamatay senselessly. Naniniwala ako na sa lahat na police operations, anything can happen, pero iyong kinokontra natin iyong pinagpaplanuhan at pagpapatay ng mga walang kamuwang-muwang. Kaya iyong sa akin, iyon iyong aking posisyon about it—I feel so strongly about it—and I want to take this opportunity to contribute in whatever way I can.

    When the President appointed me as co-chair of PDEA in ICAD, I want to look at it as a signal that the President is open to listen to a fresh perspective about the entire campaign. I also want to look at it as an agreement that it is time for us to objectively assess what we have been doing over the past years.

    Pero having said that, ayaw kong tawaran iyong lahat na pinaggagawa ng lahat ng ahensya, kasi I know for a fact na sobra-sobra iyong binubuhos. Secretary Año is here; I know that DILG has been in the forefront of really activating all the local government units. I have talked to so many local government units and they have been actively helping in the campaign against illegal drugs, and that is very commendable.

    Everyone else has been contributing to this. Pero iyong sa akin, kapag nagkakaroon kasi ng mga senseless killings, nadi-diminish iyong mga pagod na binubuhos natin dito.

    So iyong sa akin, that’s where I stand now. But as I have said, we still have many days ahead of us, but this afternoon is really a listening exercise for me. So nagpapasalamat ako. Ngayon pa man, nagpapasalamat ako, siyempre to General Aquino and all the other members of ICAD, all the Cabinet secretaries who are present, all the undersecretaries, and all the others who are representing the different agencies, for giving me this opportunity.

    Maraming salamat po. Magandang hapon sa inyong lahat. [applause]

    Posted in Speeches on Nov 08, 2019