UN drug war probe 'somewhat outside' Robredo power: spokesman

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 08 2019 09:45 AM | Updated as of Nov 08 2019 01:31 PM

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MANILA — A United Nations investigation into President Rodrigo Duterte's anti-narcotics drive "falls somewhat outside" Vice President Leni Robredo's new post as co-chair of an inter-agency drug committee, her spokesperson said Friday.

Duterte is furious at a resolution in July by the UN Human Rights Council to investigate the deaths in his war on drugs and the administration rejected aid from countries that backed the probe.

Robredo believes "the best way to deal with criticism, whether external or internal, is for government to be completely transparent in what it is doing," said her spokesperson Atty. Barry Gutierrez.

However, the Vice President is "not the only actor" when it comes to foreign relations, under which the UN probe falls, he said.

"That's an area that falls somewhat outside of the ICAD's mandate and therefore she will have to deal with other agencies, DFA in particular, the President as the principal architect of foreign policy," Gutierrez told ANC.

"But definitely she will take a strong position in so far as making a recommendation on the level of transparency we should be adopting," he added.

Robredo, a critic of the war on narcotics, accepted this week Duterte's designation of her as co-chair of the Inter-agency Committee on Anti-illegal Drugs (ICAD), defying advice from some allies who said the post was a trap to ensure her failure.

The Vice President's camp is "holding on to the wording of the designation and the statements made by Malacañang... that she will be given blanket authority, that all agencies were being instructed to give her full assistance and cooperation," said her spokesperson.

DRUG WAR DOCS, PROBE VS COPS

Robredo "wanted to bring justice for those unjustly killed," Gutierrez said.

"That means those police officers currently being investigated, those police officers who have actually been charged in connection to the unlawful deaths in the conduct of the drug war — these cases should be fast-tracked and it should be ensured that they be held accountable," he said.

Gutierrez added that he would "not be surprised" if Robredo made the documents related to the drug war available to the public.

The Supreme Court, which is examining the drug war's constitutionality, last April ordered the Office of the Solicitor General and the police to submit documents related to the campaign.

The case files they submitted were "irrelevant and, in fact, absolutely rubbish insofar as the instant cases are concerned," claimed Center for International Law, which represents Manila residents questioning the drug war.

The OSG is "obliged" to give Robredo its "full cooperation and assistance" because she "is the one tasked to lead government efforts in the campaign against illegal drugs," said Gutierrez.

Human rights groups say Duterte's crackdown had led to systematic executions and police cover-ups. Police reject that and say the nearly 7,000 people they have killed were armed drug suspects who resisted arrest.

Duterte remains hugely popular among Filipinos, with an approval rating of more than 80 percent. About 8 in 10 Filipinos are also satisfied with the drug war, according to an opinion poll released September. With a report from Reuters