MANILA - Vice President Leni Robredo on Thursday denied a media report that she supposedly proposed to decriminalize the use of illegal drugs.
"'Yung tumitira kasi sa proposal, tingin ko headline lang 'yung binasa. Hindi binasa 'yung balita. Kasi 'yung balita hindi tayo nagpo-propose na i-decriminalize. 'Yung proposal natin pag-aralan 'yung iba't ibang best practices sa buong mundo," Robredo said.
(I think those who are criticizing the proposal only read the headline. They did not read the entire article. In the news story, we did not propose to decriminalize it. Our proposal was to study the different best practices across the world.)
In a visit to the University of the Philippines in Los Baños, Laguna last week, a student asked Robredo about how the country's illegal drug scourge should be addressed.
A newspaper came out the following day with a story that the Vice President supposedly called for decriminalizing drug use.
Robredo clarified that she only said the country can learn from the experience of other countries that used violence in eradicating drug rings.
"'Yung mga bansa na gumamit ng karahasan, hindi naging matagumpay 'yung kampanya. Mga examples nito [ay] Colombia, Venezuela, Mexico, Thailand. Lahat ng ito dumaan sa napakaraming patayan. Pero kinalaunan, hindi rin nahinto 'yung problema sa iligal na droga," Robredo said.
(Countries that used violence did not succeed. Colombia, Venezuela, Mexico, and Thailand are examples. They experienced so many killings, but failed to stop the illegal drug problem.)
She added she only mentioned the Portuguese government’s policy of decriminalizing drug use, but she did not say that the Philippines should follow the example of the European nation.
"Binaligtad 'yung balita. Parang sinasabi na parang sinusulong natin na gawin nang legal 'yung paggamit ng droga. Malayong malayo 'yon sa katotohanan," she said.
(The news story reversed what I said. It apparently reported that we are pushing for the legalization of drug use. That is far from the truth.)
"Ang sinasabi lang natin na ibahin 'yung penalties doon sa tumutulak at sa gumagamit. Kasi 'pag halos pareho 'yung sphere ng penalties na ginagalawan, parang imbes na natutulungan mong ma-rehabilitate, imbes na tinutulungang magbago, parang ine-expose mo pa siya sa mas malalang mga problema."
(We only said there should be different penalties for drug pushers and users. If they move in the same sphere of penalties, instead of rehabilitating a drug user and helping him change, you are exposing him to a bigger problem.)
Thousands of drug suspects have been killed since the Duterte administration launched its war on illegal drugs.
Last March, Robredo bared alleged irregularities of the campaign via a video message to the United Nations, as she argued that the drug problem must be treated instead as a "complex public-health issue linked intimately with poverty and social inequality."