LIST: Robredo's drug war recommendations

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 6)— Vice President Leni Roberedo released Monday her list of recommendations to improve the Duterte administration's ongoing war against illegal drugs.

Her recommendations, detailed in a 40-page report, were based on her findings during her short stint as the co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee Against Illegal Drugs, the government's multi-clustered agency fighting drug trafficking and use of illegal drugs in the country.

Below are her main recommendations to the government to create "strong policies and synchronized programs."

1. Maximize ICAD by designating the Dangerous Drugs Board as lead

Robredo proposed moving the leadership from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency to the Dangerous Drugs Board. She said DDB is the policy-making and strategy-formulating body in the planning and formulation of policies and programs on drug prevention and control. She said the current situation of PDEA as lead gives a "lopsided" priority to law enforcement.

She also urged proactive and balanced participation from the enforcement, justice, advocacy, and rehabilitation and reintegration clusters of ICAD.

Robredo suggested adding relevant private sectors and local government representatives members as part of ICAD.

2. Establish accurate and updated baseline data on the number of drug users, pushers

The Vice President hit Duterte's and government agencies' differing data of the number of drug users in the country. Government data shows around 6,000 deaths in anti-illegal drugs operations, a figure that local and international human rights groups believe is just the tip of the iceberg. She said the government should update the list in order to carry out a successful, evidence-based and data-driven campaign against illegal drugs.

3. Scrap "Oplan Tokhang," focus on arrest of drug lords

She recommended the abandonment of the flagship "Oplan Tokhang" campaign, where authorities visit suspected drug users’ homes and ask them to stop using illegal drugs. She said this term now has a negative connotation for its association with the deaths of drug suspects allegedly at the hands of the police, and should be replaced by a "reinvigorated policy" that ensures accountability and transparency. She said the PNP and other law enforcement agencies should also focus on curtailing the supply and trade of illegal drug.

Robredo also criticized the government's "disproportionate" focus on arresting street-level users and pushers compared to jailing and persecuting high-profile drug lords and drug suppliers.

"Kung gusto talaga nating tapusin ang salot ng iligal na droga, ang malalaking supplier, at hindi lang ang maliliit na pusher, ang kailangan nating habulin," she said in her speech.

The drug war has been tagged by rights groups as anti-poor because most of the recorded deaths are of small-time drug users and peddlers, while drug lords roam free.

She added that the entire Project Tokhang of the Philippine National Police should be revamped to eliminate potential abuse of police officers.

4. Separate users and pushers in processing arrests

Robredo said the PDEA, PNP, Interior Department, Health Department, and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology should implement stricter measures to delineate users from pushers. She said lumping them together in jail only creates a wider drug network.

There should be a uniform process for tracking all subsequent actions and interventions regarding those who surrendered or were arrested, she added.

5. Institute evidence-based drug prevention programs

She said the proliferation of illegal drugs is rooted in poverty, so government should create programs that target both the poverty-stricken and drug-infested areas.

Robredo also told the administration to realign the budget of law enforcement to drug rehabilitation. She noted the "imbalance" in the budget. As an example, she said that only ₱1.24 billion was allotted to the DOH and DILG for rehabilitation, while law enforcement agencies were given ₱11.40 billion — 89 percent more than the amount for helping drug users heal.

6. Strengthen the role of AMLC

The Vice President said the Anti-Money Laundering Council plays a crucial role in stopping the flow of illegal drugs in the country. She said the tecnhical expertise of the council in the field of financial surveillance can be tapped to intercept money that funds the supply and trafficking of drug syndicates.

Despite the bevy of solutions proposed by Robredo, the Duterte administration refused to heed them.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said she is not in the position to give recommendations on how to conduct the drug war because she's an outsider — despite the fact that she held the post for 19 days.