By Raymund Antonio
Law enforcement agencies agreed to come up with an “improved version” of the government’s campaign against illegal drugs, Vice President Leni Robredo said on Thursday.
Robredo, who is the co-chair of the Inter-agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD), made the statement after meeting with the anti-drug body’s enforcement cluster at her Quezon City office.
“I reiterated my suggestion for them to rethink the campaign, especially Tokhang, which has negative iteration. They agreed and promised to assess and come up with an improved version of what we already have,” she said.
Oplan Tokhang is a police operation involving knocking on doors of the houses of suspected drug dealers and users, and asking them to surrender.
“They agreed that it is about time to reassess on how this campaign can evoke it as a campaign not against the people, but for the people,” the lady official added.
The officials were from the Philippine National Police (PNP), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB), and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), among others.
Present were acting PNP chief Lt. Gen. Archie Gamboa, PDEA Deputy Director General Gregorio Pimentel, DDB Executive Director Undersecretary Earl Saavedra, and DILG Assistant Secretary Ricojudge Echiverri.
Robredo said among the topics they discussed were the need to have a “clear baseline” data on the drug situation in the Philippines in order to set up a “common metrics” for all the agencies.
“This is important to measure the accomplishments and those needed to set the metrics. We need it so we would know how effective the means that we employed,” she said.
The ICAD co-chair noted various agencies have already standardized the information system and consolidated their data in order to measure the effectiveness of the drug war.
Robredo set a target for these agencies to finish their baseline data on the current state of the country’s drug problem by year-end.
“I think DILG would need more time to finish the information system, but they would present it to us on Tuesday. They would present how the information system is—where we are right now,” she said.
Before the ICAD meeting, Robredo discussed with Gamboa, including Deputy Chief PNP for Operations Lt. Gen. Camilo Cascolan, the Project Double Barrel and how to further improve the campaign.
Tokhang is under Double Barrel, an anti-illegal drug initiative implemented by the PNP when President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office.
“When you read about Project Double Barrel, the guidelines that were laid down were good, but obviously it has gaps due to the abuses on how it was implemented,” she said.
The Vice President said the PNP agreed to provide all the data she needs on the anti-drug campaign.
“The leadership is very cooperative. Actually, they reiterated their support and if we need to clarify something or we need data, they are open to providing that,” Robredo noted.
“I assured them that I asked for information not to ghost-hunt, but just to know where would I start, what is the baseline and for us not repeat the same gaps in the previous campaign,” she added.
Robredo will also be meeting next week with other agencies belonging to ICAD such as the Department of Health, DILG, and DDB.
“The DILG is in the thick of so many things, the DDB is the one on top of the Philippine Anti-Drug Strategy, so that is what we want to do first. The DOH is on top of all the rehabilitation and reintegration efforts. We want to focus on all the different moving parts,” she said.