The US has expressed support for the Duterte administration's campaign against illegal drugs, which is now led in part by opposition leader Vice President Leni Robredo, the co-chair of the Inter-Agency Council on Anti-Illegal Drugs.
In a statement following her meeting with US officials on Wednesday, Robredo said the two sides discussed the shortcomings of the present campaign against drugs and how the superpower could fill these gaps.
Robredo said US officials indicated they could help in coming up with a clearer baseline data on the drug situation, strengthening programs in the prevention of drug use and community-based drug rehabilitation —initiatives that the Vice President put forward after accepting President Rodrigo Duterte's appointment.
Possible amendments to the country's Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act were also discussed in Robredo's meeting with the American officials.
"Ipinahiwatig nila ang kanilang buong suporta at kooperasyon sa ating kampanya laban sa iligal na droga," Robredo said.
"At bilang kaibigan ng Pilipinas, gagawin nila ang lahat para tayo ay magtagumpay sa laban na ito,” she added.
"Napag-usapan din ang mga kakulangan sa kasalukuyang kampanya at ang mga tulong na maaari pa nilang maibigay para lalong paigtingin ang kampanya laban sa droga," Robredo said.
The US Embassy in Manila said the meeting was upon the request of the Vice President.
It said an inter-agency US government working-level delegation gave a briefing on on the current state of US-Philippines counter-narcotics cooperation, and on the ongoing and potential US government-funded programs to assist the Philippine government efforts in drug demand reduction.
Upon request of VP @LeniRobredo, an interagency U.S. government delegation from the @FBI, @DEAHQ, @StateDept and @USAID_Manila briefed on the current state of U.S.-Philippines counter-narcotics cooperation.— U.S. Embassy in the Philippines (@USEmbassyPH) November 13, 2019
"Matagal na ang ugnayan ng aming opisina sa Embahada ng Amerika," Robredo said.
"Nagtulungan na kami sa iba’t ibang proyekto, at nagpapasalamat ako na naging agaran ang kanilang pakikipagkita sa akin matapos ang aking pagkakatalaga," she added.
Prior to meeting US officials, Robredo said that she wanted to seek assistance from the US in terms of going after big-time drug syndicates.
As ICAD co-chair, Robredo has already urged the panel to work on ending senseless killings, noting that the success of the drug war cannot be measured by body count but by the number of lives improved as a result of community-based rehabilitation programs.
Robredo has stressed that the drug problem must be solved using a public health approach, considering that government records have showed that 90 percent of drug users in the country are slight or occasional drug users who do not need hospital confinement.
At least 5,700 drug suspects have been killed under police operations since June 30, 2016, all without facing charges or trial.
The said number, however, does not include drug-related killings committed by unidentified gunmen. —NB, GMA News