The US has expressed support for the fight against illegal drugs by the Duterte government, which is now partly headed by opposition leader Vice President Leni Robredo, the co-chair of the Anti-Illegal Drugs Inter-Agency Council.
In a statement following her meeting with U.S. officials on Wednesday, Robredo said the two sides addressed the shortcomings of the current drug strategy and how these holes could be filled by the superpower.
Robredo said U.S. officials said they could help develop a better perspective on the drug crisis, strengthen drug prevention programs, and community-based drug rehabilitation measures put forward by the Vice President after welcoming the appointment of President Rodrigo Duterte.
In Robredo’s meeting with American officials, possible amendments to the country’s Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act were also discussed.
The Manila U.S. Embassy said the meeting was on the Vice President’s request.
It said an inter-agency work-level team from the U.S. government gave a briefing on the current state of counternarcotics cooperation between the U.S. and the existing and future U.S. government-funded programs to assist the efforts of the Philippine government to reduce drug demand.
Since meeting with U.S. authorities, Robredo said she wanted to seek help from the U.S. to prosecute big-time drug syndicates.
As co-chair of ICAD, Robredo has already urged the board to work to end senseless killings, recognizing that the drug war’s progress can not be measured by body count but by the number of lives changed as a result of community-based rehabilitation programs.
Robredo emphasized the need to address the drug problem using a public health approach, given that government records have shown that 90% of drug users in the country are minor or casual consumers of drugs who do not need hospital detention.
Since June 30, 2016, at least 5,700 perpetrators of narcotics have been killed in police operations, all without charges or trials.
However, that number does not include drug-related killings by unidentified gunmen.
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