Vice President Leni Robredo is seeking a higher budget for the government’s anti-drug campaign following her appointment to the Inter-agency Committee on Anti-illegal Drugs (ICAD) which she now leads along with Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Chief, Aaron Aquino.

In her radio program, Robredo said the current funding for her committee is not enough to conduct its duties and responsibilities.

She added that Sen. Panfilo Lacson has committed to try and increase the government’s funding for the war on drugs.

Ang pondo na nakasalang ay ₱15 million, tingin ko kulang ‘yunhumihingi din ng pondo para ma-implement rin itong Philippine anti-drug strategy,” Robredo said.

Robredo also admitted that it is hard to set an appropriate budget for the campaign since there are no accurate statistics of illegal drug users in the country.

Walang standard na datos na available. Until now, nagiiba-iba ‘yung numbers kung ilan talaga ‘yung drug addicts. Halimbawa, ‘yung based sa survey nung 2016, 1.6 million. Sabi ni Presidente [Rodrigo Duterte,] seven to eight million. Ang ginagamit ng PDEA na figures four million. Pero itong lahat based sa estimates, ” Robredo said.

The vice president said it remained unclear whether her new designation is actually a cabinet position. This is the reason why, she said, that she has not attended the administration’s cabinet meetings.            

In-appoint ako, dinesignate ako sa co-chairman ng ICAD. Iyong cabinet position, na cabinet rank hindi siya nakasaad doon sa designation. Sinasabi lang iyon ni Secretary Panelo during briefings, media guestings.  Pero ako maghihintay ako, na i-clarify kung ano talaga. Sa akin naman, mag-a-attend ako kung imbitahan ako,” Robredo said.

Malacañang urged the public to give Robredo a “wide latitude” to pursue her own policies as the newly appointed co-chair of the government’s anti-drug body.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo also lauded Robredo’s willingness to join anti-narcotics operations saying such exposure could change her perception of the government’s anti-drug drive.  (Jasper Camilo)