Leni: No witch-hunt in quest to stop drug killings

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    VICE President Leni Robredo yesterday vowed not to engage in witch-hunting even if she wants police officers involved in drug killings to be held accountable.

    Robredo, as vice chair of the Inter-Agency Council on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD), said she has already asked for a comprehensive data on the number of drug-related killings and deaths that are under investigation.

    “Noong Monday, nagpadala ako ng sulat sa ICAD, asking for that information. Pero ngayon, binigyan na kami ng information pero hindi pa kumpleto. Pero I assure them na iyong paghingi ko ng information is not to ghost-hunt (I wrote the ICAD on Monday asking for that information, they’ve already provided us with some but it’s still incomplete. I assured them that the information is not meant to ghost-hunt),” Robredo told reporters.

    Robredo’s statement came following her meeting with the ICAD’s law enforcement cluster at the Quezon City Reception House yesterday morning.

    Among the officials who attended the meeting were PNP Officer-in-Charge Lt. Gen. Archie Gamboa, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Deputy Director General Gregorio Pimentel, Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) Executive Director Undersecretary Earl Saavedra, and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Assistant Secretary Ricojudge Echiverri.

    “Just so alam ko kung saan ako nagsisimula, alam ko kung ano iyong baseline, at para hindi na natin maulit iyong mga pagkukulang noong nakaraang kampanya (I asked for the data just so I’d know where to start, so I’d know what the baseline is and so that the mistakes of the previous campaign won’t be repeated),” Robredo said.

    The Vice President thanked ICAD members for being cooperative, saying they have reiterated their support for the reforms she wants to implement as new drug czar by vowing to provide the information she needs.

    Robredo said she reiterated her call for the PNP to stop the “senseless killings” and that she was assured by the police leadership “that they are doing the best they can.”

    “Una, (nanawagan ako) para sa internal cleansing. Pangalawa (secondly, I urged them) to make those behind the senseless killings accountable,” Robredo said.

    Robredo said Gamboa vowed to “rethink” the PNP’s “Oplan: Tokhang” before they held the cluster meeting.

    “Napag-usapan sa pre-meeting, nagkaroon ako ng pre-meeting with the OIC PNP chief saka ‘yong mga opisyal na assigned dito sa trabahong ito, ni-reiterate ko ‘yong aking suggestion for them to rethink ‘yong kampanya especially ‘yong ‘Tokhang’ (It was discussed in the pre-meeting with the OIC PNP chief and the officials assigned to this. I reiterated my suggestion for them to rethink the campaign, especially ‘Tokhang’),” she said.

    “Nag-agree naman sila (They agreed), and they promised to assess and come-up with an improved version of what we already have. ‘Pag binasa mo kasi ‘yong Project Double Barrel, maganda naman ‘yong pagkalatag pero obviously (andun) ‘yong gaps, dahil nagkaroon ng abuses on how it was implemented (When you review Project Double Barrel, the planning is actually good but obviously there are gaps because there were abuses in the implementation),” Robredo added.

    The Vice President said the internal cleansing should not only be undertaken by the PNP but also by other institutions like the Bureau of Customs where illegal drugs had passed through in the past.

    “Ito, iyong pinagkakatiwalaan naman natin na iyong (we trust that the) leadership will do good on their promise to take care of the institution, kasi ayaw natin na mag-waste ng time na parang nag-go-ghost hunt tayo (because we don’t want to waste time ghost hunting),” Robredo said.

    Also during the meeting, participants underscored that most of the illegal drugs shipped to the Philippines come from China.

    “Iyong sa akin, gusto kong kumalap ng mas maraming datos, kasi iyong pinaka-report talaga sa atin ngayon, karamihan sa supply na pumapasok dito, galing China. Pati iyong… pati iyong… pati iyong mga nahuhuli na mga nag-o-operate within the Philippines, karamihan Chinese nationals or Filipino-Chinese nationals. (I need more data because it was reported to us that most of the supply come from China and those who are caught operating are mostly Chinese nationals or Filipino-Chinese). So it is something that we should look into,” she said.

    On Wednesday, Robredo met with United States Embassy officials who gave their assessment of the Duterte administration’s war on drugs and expressed support for the campaign.

    Sen. Panfilo Lacson said the Robredo having close coordination with her foreign counterparts is a big boost to the country’s war on drugs.

    Lacson said Robredo can benefit from the information which will be fed her by foreign drug enforcers, just like he did when he was still in the active police service.

    “No foreign intervention. During my time, I was closely coordinating with foreign counterparts – US DEA, Australian Police, HK Narcotics Bureau, Taiwan ministry of justice and investigation. They are all good partners especially when you target the supply side,” Lacson said. – With Raymond Africa