'Same vigor, zero killings': Robredo bares reform plans as anti-drug czar

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 7)— Vice President Leni Robredo promised to ensure there will be no more killings as she takes on a lead role in the government's anti-drug campaign.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, her first day as co-chairperson of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs, Robredo stressed she will not be soft, as alleged by some critics.

"Iyong laban sa ilegal na droga (Our fight against illegal drugs) will continue with the same vigor, with the same intensity, with the same strength. Ang iibahin talaga natin iyong (What we will change is the) manner by which ginagawa ito (it is done)," Robredo said.

"Iyong nakikita natin na mga mali—lalo na iyong patayan—iyon iyong sisiguraduhin natin na hindi na mangyayari," she added.

[Translation: The mistakes we see – especially the killings – we'll make sure these won't happen anymore.]

When asked if she would call on members of the ICAD to be open to investigations by the Commission on Human Rights and even the United Nations, Robredo said, "isa iyon sa mga magiging panukala ko (that will be one of my proposals)."

She said her goal is not to point fingers, but to make sure justice will be served.

"We’ll just make sure na iyong lahat na nagkasala (all those who erred) will be put to justice. Iyong lahat na naging biktima (All victims) will get justice," Robredo told reporters.

President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly lashed out at the CHR, UN, and other countries and instutions for comments against his drug war. He has shunned investigations by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the International Criminal Court into the country's human rights situation. He insists the Philippine government can investigate cases of human rights abuses in the country.

The President was recently irked by Robredo's call for a stop to “wrong” methods that did not bring down the number of drug addicts in the country, prompting him to offer her the co-chairmanship of the ICAD. She shares this post with Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director General Aaron Aquino.

Robredo said the anti-drug campaign under her watch will be focused more on big-time drug lords. Duterte has been criticized in the wake of the poor falling victim to the drug war, which has left more around 6,000 dead since he took office in July 2016.

Local and international human rights groups say thousands more have died in extrajudicial killings as a result of the President's public pronouncements, a claim Malacañang has repeatedly denied.

Robredo said her first order of business is to finally get hold of and analyze drug war data.

"Ano ba talaga iyong numero, ano ba talaga iyong—ano ba iyong priorities, ano iyong ginagawa ngayon?" she said.

[Translation: What really are the numbers, what are the priorities, what is being done now?]

In the past, the Philippine National Police and the Department of Interior and Local Government had rejected Robredo's request for data. Malacañang said Robredo will be given access now that she has been appointed anti-drug czar by the President himself.

Robredo also wants private organizations, including faith-based groups to be part of the ICAD to work on their anti-drug advocacies. The ICAD, whose main thrust includes ensuring the effectivity of anti-illegal drug operations and arrests of drug lords, peddlers, and users, currently has members from various government agencies.

CNN Philippines Correspondent AC Nicholls contributed to this report.