MANILA -- Vice President Leni Robredo said Monday the government should consider a health-based approach to curbing drug addition, as she called for a reassessment of President Rodrigo Duterte's centerpiece program.
Reeling from fresh criticism from Duterte supporters, Robredo said she "cannot just sit back and look the other way" when there is a need to criticize government policies.
Robredo said she did not call for a stop to the entire drug war and instead urged its leaders to "step back and assess" as, based on Duterte's speeches, the number of drug dependents was rising.
"Tingin ko, the approach, kasi parang we are heavy on the justice approach. Tingin ko as far as the drug addicts are concerned, dapat health approach e. It's an addiction," she told ANC's Headstart.
(It's the approach, I think. We are heavy on the justice approach. In my opinion, as far as the drug addicts are concerned, it should be a health approach. It's an addiction.)
"Ang paniniwala ko, 'yong criminal justice approach dapat gamitin 'yon para sa mga drug suppliers and drug dealers. Drug addicts, dapat mas heavy on community based prevention," she said.
(I believe the criminal justice approach should be applied to drug suppliers and drug dealers. For, drug addicts, it should be heavier on community-based prevention.)
Robredo said she anticipated attacks from Duterte supporters following the Reuters interview, where she was quoted as saying that she wanted to stop the drug war.
The Vice President said she did not call for a halt to the drug war and that she did not intend to demean the efforts of those involved in it.
"Every time I open my mouth and criticize some of the government's policies, kinukuyog ako lalo ng mga trolls online," she said.
(Every time I open my mouth and criticize some of the government's policies, I get attacked, especially by online trolls.)
"I cannot just sit back and look the other way. 'Pag may nakikita akong mali, pakiramdam ko obligasyon kong i-verbalize ang nakikita ko para bigyan ng boses 'yong, kahit gaano pa kakaunti kami, kahit pa sasampu pa kami," she said.
(I cannot just sit back and look the other way. When I see something wrong, I feel it is my obligation to verbalize what I see to give voice to those, no matter how few we are, even if we are down to just 10.)
Robredo said the government should consider a different metric to gauge the success of the drug war, not just the number of those who surrendered.
"I have likened it to a feeding program. Tamang metrics kung nahinto mo 'yong malnutrition. Kahit ang dami [nag-]surrender bakit paakyat pa din nang paakyat ang numero ng drug addicts?" she said.
(I have likened it to a feeding program. The metrics are correct if you stopped malnutrition. Even if many surrendered, why is the number of drug addicts still rising?)