Robredo to urge anti-drug body to cooperate with UN probe

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The newly-appointed anti-drug czar vows that the war against illegal drugs will have 'the same vigor,' but with zero killings (FILE PHOTO).

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 7) — As the country's new anti-drug czar, Vice President Leni Robredo is pushing for the government to cooperate with the United Nations' human rights probe which has repeatedly been rejected by the Duterte administration.

When asked if she would call on members of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs 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)."

Robredo said the 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 Thursday, her first day as co-chairperson of the ICAD. She shares this post with Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director General Aaron Aquino.

Robredo promised that the war against illegal drugs will have "the same vigor," but with zero killings.

"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.]

Robredo said the anti-drug campaign this time will be focused more on big-time drug lords. President Rodrigo 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.

READ: Duterte explains why the rich are beyond reach of drug war

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. The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the International Criminal Court have taken notice of the country's human rights situation.

Duterte has repeatedly lashed out on countries and institutions critical of his drug war. He recently suspended all negotiations on financial assistance from the 18 countries that called on the United Nations to investigate the Philippines' human rights situation.

The President has rejected any form of intervention from the international community, arguing that the Philippine government can investigate cases of human rights abuses in the country.

Earlier, Robredo's call for a stop to “wrong” methods that did not bring down the number of drug addicts in the country irked Duterte, prompting him to offer her the anti-drug czar post.

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' AC Nicholls contributed to this report.