Vice President Leni Robredo said the Philippine National Police (PNP) has assured her that it is open to re-thinking its anti-drug strategy.

Robredo met with the law enforcement cluster of the Inter-agency Committee on Anti-illegal Drugs (ICAD) which she co-chairs with Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Aaron Aquino.

“They agreed na panahon para ire-assess kung paano siya mas makaka-evoke, na kampanya ito hindi against sa tao pero kampanya ito para sa tao,” Robredo said.

PNP Officer-in-Charge Archie Gamboa said Robredo agreed not to scrap but instead make revisions to Oplan Tokhang or the PNP’s ‘knock and plead’ strategy that has become controversial due to the deaths of suspects.

Aside from the police, other agencies in the cluster are the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine Ports Authority and Dangerous Drugs Board.

Other issues discussed during the meeting are various ways that illegal drugs are distributed such as through online delivery as well as the use of Philippine offshore gaming operations (Pogo) in the drug industry.

Yung sa money laundering na-bring sa attention natin iyung mga gambling, mga casinos madaming Pogo nagiging instrumento siya sa money laundering so kailangan siyang harapin,” Robredo said.

The Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) also raised concerns, on the mixing of drug users and pushers in government facilities that further complicates the drug problem.

“Nagkakahalo ang drug users at drug pushers, nagkakahalo sa isang rehabilitation center na parang nililipat lang ang problem kung minsan naa-agravate ang problema  dahil nagkakahawaan, ang term ng DOH  last week was nagkakaroon ng bagong networks,” Robredo said.

For his part, Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Ricojudge Echiverri said they are still working on their baseline data on the drug war such as the number of drug users, pushers and high-value targets.

The DILG also explained to the Vice President the challenges they face, such as the veracity of data gathered from the ground, which are also being addressed.

“Like for example,  hindi maiiwasan ang mga barangay imbis na ibigay na listahan yung totoo, ang ilalagay yung mga kalaban sa pulitika, ive-vet pa yun ng PNP at PDEA,” Echiverri said.

Meanwhile, Robredo refused to give details on her meeting with officials from the United States Wednesday.

“Mahirap i-discuss publicly kasi very sensitive yung data pero even before naging ICA co-chair ako, meron naman tayo maayos na data gathering. Ang pinaka-problema lang talaga yung capabilities,” she said.

Asked if Chinese officials will also be invited to her office, Robredo gave this reply.

Yung sa akin gusto ko kumalap ng maraming datos kasi ang report sa akin karamihan sa supply na pumapasok dito galing China….pati mga nahuhuli na nag-operate within the Philippines karamihan Chinese nationals or Filipino-Chinese nationals.”

Meanwhile despite her cabinet rank, Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Robredo will not be called to cabinet meetings in Malacañang if the issue of illegal drugs is not on the agenda.

“In other words, it’s optional for us to attend. Because if it is not your topic there, you will have to stay there until the wee hours of the morning. Kung hindi ka naman kasama doon sa agenda, mas masaya siguro kung hindi ka mag-aattend,” Panelo said.

The Vice President said she will meet separately with the Interior Department, the Dangerous Drugs Board and the Health Department next week. (Jasper Camilo)