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Robredo, US officials discuss PHL drug problem

Vice President Leni Robredo on Wednesday met with United States officials where they discussed how the two countries could reduce demand for illegal drugs in the Philippines.

Robredo requested for the meeting with the US officials in her capacity as co-chairperson of the government's Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD).

Present during the meeting were representatives from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Agency, Department of State, and United States Agency for International Development, the US Embassy said in a statement.



The Embassy said the US officials "gave a briefing on US-Philippines counter-narcotics cooperation and potential US-funded programs."

"This is meant to assist the Philippine government’s efforts in drug demand reduction," it added.

Asked for comment, Philippine National Police officer-in-charge Police Lieutenant General Archie Francisco Gamboa on Wednesday refused to comment on Robredo's considering tapping US intelligence to hunt for big-time drug lords.

Gamboa said he has some things to say to Robredo during their meeting with the law enforcement cluster set on Thursday. He also pointed out that the Philippines already has an anti-drug strategy that is being implemented since October 2018.

Robredo earlier said that she plans to ask assistance from the US Embassy on how the Philippine government could further intensify its campaign against illegal drugs and hold big-time drug syndicates liable for their crimes.

Robredo earlier met with UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) representatives and other community-based advocacy groups to discuss better ways of management of the illegal drug problem.

The Duterte administration's anti-illegal drug campaign has drawn criticism from local and international human rights advocates, including Robredo, due to the high number of slain drug suspects — 5,500 according to government figures, but critics claim the number could go as high as 27,000.

Robredo was offered the ICAD post after she called on the administration to re-evaluate its anti-illegal drugs campaign. Although her camp had called the offer "problematic," Robredo accepted the appointment.

During her first meeting with the inter-agency body, Robredo urged its members to help stop the "senseless killings."

Meanwhile, in a separate statement, Robredo lauded government agencies for the recent seizure of P12.5 million worth of shabu, noting that it was accomplished without bloodshed.

“Saludo kami sa law enforcement agencies na bahagi ng mga operasyon kung saan nasabat ang P6.8-M na halaga ng shabu sa Makati at P5.7-M na halaga ng shabu sa Tondo. This was done without sacrificing innocent lives,” she said.

“[I am] hopeful that we can continue this in our fight against illegal drugs.” —KBK/KG, GMA News