VP Robredo seeks 'unified data' on gov't drug war

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 08 2020 11:58 AM | Updated as of Jan 08 2020 02:49 PM

MANILA (UPDATE) - Vice President Leni Robredo on Wednesday urged government agencies to come up with "unified" data on the administration's anti-narcotics campaign.

Citing data from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and Philippine National Police, Robredo earlier said authorities have seized only 1 percent of the 156,000 kilos of shabu that has flooded the country yearly since 2016. 

The PDEA and the PNP, both members of the inter-agency committee on anti-illegal drugs (ICAD), however said the data was a mere "estimate."

Robredo, who briefly served as ICAD co-chair, urged agencies to make estimates with "scientific basis" and wait for the upcoming unified report of the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB).

"Hindi namin imbento 'yung data. 'Yung data galing sa kanila. So baka mas mabuti magusap-usap muna sila, ano ba talaga. 'Pag nagusap-usap na sila kung ano ba talaga e di iprisenta nila 'yung figures," she told reporters.

(We did not invent the data. It came from them. It's better if they talk among themselves what's the correct data and then present the figures.)

"Hindi ba dapat mayroon tayong unified na datos na pinaguusapan kasi paano natin malalaman kung tama 'yung ginagawa natin?"

(Shouldn't we have unified data because how can we know if we're doing the right thing?)

Robredo cited as an example the confusion over the actual numbers of drug users in the country, which President Rodrigo Duterte recently pegged at 7 to 8 million, higher than the ICAD's estimate of around 4 million.

The latest available data of the DDB, however, placed the number at 1.8 million, which agencies also revised to 1.5 million based on 1.2 million people who surrendered for drug offenses and 300,000 arrests, according to Robredo.

"Hindi puwede na galing lang sa ere 'yung datos kasi paano tayo susukat kung tama 'yung ginagawa natin," she said.

(Our data cannot come from air because how can we measure if we're doing the right thing?)

"Marami nang ginagawa, nandito 'yun sa report na ina-acknowledge natin ang efforts ng maraming agency. Pero 'pag tiningnan natin ang figures parang sinasabi niya na despite na maraming ginagawa, lumobo pa nang grabe."

(We acknowledge in our report that there's so many efforts by the agencies. But if we look at the figures, it shows that despite these, the situation worsened.)

Robredo also hit the Mega Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation Center in Nueva Ecija, which former DDB chairman Dionisio Santiago had called a "mistake" and led to his sacking.

The Vice President said government agencies had recommended that instead of a huge facility, several smaller ones should have been built per region.

“Kasi part of the rehab is 'yung sessions with the family and the community, 'pag masyado malayo ang pamilya sa rehab centers, hindi sila makakapunta,” she said.

(Part of the rehab is sessions with the family and the community. If it's too far, the relatives can't come.)

Robredo added that she did not only criticize the drug war but also offered recommendations such as strengthening law enforcement agencies, as well as the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) which can go after big-time drug syndicates.

She stressed the need for more financial investigators as well as the direct mandate for the AMLC to prosecute instead of going through the Office of the Solicitor General.

“Based on our research, pa-minsan dun natatagalan, naitakbo na ng suspect ang kaniyang pera, wala pa rin aksyon,” Robredo said.

(That's where process becomes slow, based on our research. The suspect has already gotten away with the money but action is still pending.)

President Rodrigo Duterte in November 2019 tapped Robredo as ICAD co-chair only to fire her after 18 days due to alleged missteps, including a meeting with UN officials supposedly critical of the campaign. 

Despite her short stint as ICAD co-chair, the Vice President said she was able to achieve one of her targets, which was to lessen the number of drug-related killings.

“Yung PNP mismo nagsabi, during my 18-day stay at ICAD there were zero killings, so 'yung sa akin kahit doon na lang, marami na ako na-achieve,” she said.

(The PNP itself said there were zero killings during my 18-day stay at ICAD.)

-- With reports from Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News