By Raymund Antonio
Vice President Leni Robredo is open to attending the hearing of the House Committee on Dangerous Drugs to lay down her plans as she moved to adopt a new strategy in combating illegal drugs.
“Gustong gusto ko iyon, para mailahad natin iyong saan patungo iyong bagong direksyon nitong kampanyang ito,” Robredo said when asked about the House’s invitation for her to attend its hearing. (I really want that because this could serve as a platform to present the new direction of this campaign.)
“Kasi parati ko itong inuulit: iyong kampanya laban sa ilegal na droga, hindi lang ito kampanya ng gobyerno; kampanya natin itong lahat,” Robredo said. (I’ve said that the campaign against illegal drugs is not only a campaign of the government; this is a campaign of everyone.)
The Vice President has been meeting with various groups, from anti-illegal drugs advocates in the Philippines to international organizations, to discuss possible partnerships in the drug war.
Robredo is the co-chair of the Inter-agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD), along with Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Aaron Aquino.
On Monday, she sat down with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to discuss the “best practices” of other Southeast Asian countries, followed by her meeting with the core members of the Community-Based Drug Rehabilitation Alliance (COBRA).
COBRA is a group composed of faith-based and non-government organizations, academe, civil society, and local government units, of which Robredo’s office has been a part of since 2016. They work towards “people-centered, humane, and evidence-based” solutions to the drug problem.
As the new drug czar, Robredo is looking to solve the country’s drug problem by treating it as a public health issue that needs to be addressed through community-based rehabilitation programs.
The Vice President noted the countries with the public health approach were among those which were able to “reach a certain level of success” in the fight against illegal drugs.
Apart from the two, Robredo is also seeking the help of the United States Embassy in Manila in terms of intelligence gathering to run after big-time drug lords.
“They have a lot of lessons. We want to know what are the resources available to us especially in the area of intelligence. Maybe they can help us there,” the ICAD co-chair said.
Robredo underscored the importance of the strategies the Philippines can learn from other countries.
“We are not only talking to the US Embassy, but all those from the international community that we can approach, because the drug problem is not unique to us. We can’t resolve it on our own,” she said.