(Eagle News) – Vice- President Leni Robredo conducted her first meeting with the different members of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) on Friday, Nov. 8, and said that it had been “really a listening exercise” for her.
“Kasi before today, I did not have access to the data that I had today,” she said.
Robredo thanked all the efforts of the agencies under ICAD for their efforts to wage the war against drugs.
But she said that she wanted “time-bound realistic targets”
–Time to change “Oplan Tokhang” branding-
Robredo also said that it was time to change the controversial name “Oplan Tokhang” that describes the Philippine government’s war against illegal drugs.
She said that violence and senseless killings has been closely tied to this tag, and that a change of name of the country’s war against drugs is in order.
“It’s time to think about a new campaign which is more effective, but no one is dying senselessly,” she said ahead of her first meeting with the body, that includes top law enforcement officials.
“I believe that in all police operations, anything can happen, but we oppose deliberate and planned killings of innocent people” she said.
“Drugs are the enemy here. We are not at war with our countrymen,” she added.
-Open to seeing actual drug operations-
Robredo also said that she was open to looking what really happens to drug operations on the ground after she had been convinced by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) chair General Aaron Aquino, her co-chair at the ICAD.
“Kasi mas makikita nyo po sa actual e. If you are there on the ground you will see for yourself,” Aquino advised.
“Hopefully, doon makikita kung may lapses,” he said.
Aquino said that the Vice-President could be involved from the planning stage up to the conduct of operations, and that he would be there to guide Robredo.
The PDEA chief also noted that members of the media had previously also participated and witnessed police operations on the war against drugs.
Robredo said that she was taking this opportunity to contribute in “whatever way” that she could.
-President Duterte now open to fresh perspective, says Robredo-
She said that she sees the offer of President Rodrigo Duterte for her to be the co-chair of the ICAD as a positive development.
“I want to look at it as a signal that the President is open to a fresh perspective,” she said.
“It is time for us to objectively assess to what have been done in the past,” she said.
“I have talked to so many local government units. What they are doing are very commendable,” she said referring to the actions to stop the illegal drug trade.
But Robredo said that senseless killings put to waste whatever accomplishments that the various government agencies have achieved in the war on drugs.
“Sa akin, pag nagkakaroon ng senseless killings na di-diminish ang pagod ukol dito,” she said.
But after she has learned many things in her first meeting as chair of the ICAD, one thing was certain for her, she said.
“This afternoon is really a new exercise for me,” Robredo said.