MANILA - Vice President Leni Robredo on Sunday said she called on the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte to reassess its anti-narcotics campaign--not to "halt" it as was earlier reported by a wire news agency.
In her weekly radio program, Robredo said she was surprised when Reuters' headline came out because it was inaccurate.
Reuters' headline read: Philippine VP says time for Duterte to halt failed drug war.
This was picked up by several other news organizations including ABS-CBN News.
Robredo, however, said that this was not what she said during the interview by Reuters.
"Binalikan ko iyong video, tiningnan ko iyong transcript. Wala akong sinabing hintuin iyong kampanya laban sa ilegal na droga," Robredo said.
(I went back to the video, looked at the transcript. I did not say that the campaign against illegal drugs should be stopped.)
"Ang sinabi ko lang, baka kailangan mag-step back— Ito, iyong exact words ko: baka kailangan mag-step back ang gobyerno, i-assess kung ano iyong mali sa kampanya."
(What I said was, maybe the government needs to step back. My exact words were: Maybe the government needs to step back, assess what's wrong with the campaign.)
"I-assess kung ano iyong mali, iyong tama ituloy. Pero iyong mali, huwag na ituloy—at palitan," she continued.
(Assess what's wrong, continue what's right. But what's wrong [with the campaign] should be stopped and changed.)
Robredo was criticized by Malacañang as well as the agencies implementing the anti-narcotics campaign over what she reportedly said in the Reuters story.
The Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) said Robredo was "misled" in her understanding of the 'drug war,' while Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the Vice President's claims "lacked factual basis."
Despite her clarification about not calling for a halt to the campaign against illegal drugs, Robredo stood by her criticism of the 'drug war.'
Robredo said that based on the numbers given by President Duterte himself, the number of drug addicts has gone up by millions since the drug war was launched at the start of his term.
She claimed that when Duterte took over the presidency 3 years ago, the DDB had said the estimated number of users in the Philippines was 1.8 million, but could go as high as 3 or 4 million.
In a speech in April this year, Duterte said the number of addicts was 7 million.
Robredo said the government shouldn't be "thin-skinned" over criticisms of the anti-narcotics campaign as the reputation of the country was at stake, as well as the lives of Filipinos.
The anti-narcotics campaign was put on the spotlight again after the head of the Philippine National Police was linked to policemen who were allegedly "recycling" drugs.