Robredo, co-chairman of the Interagency Committee on Anti-illegal Drugs, said she obtained this information in a meeting with officials from the Department of the Interior and Local Government and the Philippine National Police.
“I wanted to gather more data but the report I got was that most of the supply comes from China. Many of those arrested operators were Chinese nationals or Filipino-Chinese,” she said. “That is something we have to look into.”
The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency also concluded last year that China remains the top source of illegal drugs―mostly shabu―smuggled into the country.
Meanwhile, the Palace clarified that Robredo, who now holds a Cabinet rank, should attend Cabinet meetings only if the anti-drug campaign is on the agenda.
This would save her the trouble of attending long meetings that did not concern her area, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said.
President Rodrigo Duterte and Robredo, who belong to opposing political parties, have not met since her appointment as anti-drug czar.
Robredo had been critical of Duterte’s flagship campaign that has killed more than 5,000 drug suspects, according to government data, saying the war could be conducted with less killing.
On Friday, she suggested the creation of a new anti-drug campaign to replace the PNP’s Oplan Tokhang during her meeting with ICAD.
Oplan Tokhang, or the house-to-house “knock and plead” police initiative to get drug suspects to surrender, has gained notoriety for human rights violations.
Robredo used to be part of the Cabinet as chairperson of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) until her resignation in December 2016.
At the time, she cited “major differences” with Duterte, and revealed that she was directed to “desist from attending all Cabinet meetings.”
Meanwhile, Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano urged Robredo to simply ask Congress for additional funds for the campaign against illegal drugs instead of announcing it in public.
In an interview with reporters in Tagaytay City, Cayetano reiterated his support to Robredo, who defeated the Speaker and former senator in the 2016 vice presidential race, as the new ICAD co-chairperson, but said he had to call her out over the way she is implementing the anti-drug campaign.
Robredo earlier called for an additional P15 million in the budget for the government’s anti-drug campaign under the proposed 2020 national budget.
On Thursday, Robredo said the PNP also sees the need to reassess and improve Oplan Tokhang.
During a meeting with PNP officer-in-charge Lt. Gen. Archie Francisco Gamboa, Robredo again called for a review of the police program.
“I reiterated my suggestion for them to rethink the campaign, especially Tokhang,” she said.
“I [also] reiterated that it has already created a negative iteration. In fact, it is now being used as a verb. There is a bad connotation once you say ‘tokhang.’ They agree. And they promised to assess and come up with an improved version,” she added.
While the PNP’s flagship Oplan Double Barrel was good on paper, there have been abuses in its implementation, she said.
“So I brought this up. And they agreed that it is high time to reassess how to evoke that the campaign is not against the person, but the campaign is by the people,” she said.
She said she was asking the PNP to provide her with the baseline data since 2016 as to how many drug suspects have surrendered and have been arrested and how many have been charged.
“What is the status of their cases? How many of them have been recommended for rehabilitation?” she said.
Gamboa said they tackled with Robredo the components of the overall drug strategy, among them, the “double barrel” program aimed at suppressing drugs infiltration, particularly in poor communities.
“We agreed on these initial steps to go forward,” Gamboa said.
“One of her suggestions is retooling how we are going to present that word Tokhang or probably balance with it with another one just to erase the notion that Tokhang means death, which is not so,” Gamboa said.
Also on Thursday, Senator Panfilo Lacson played down concerns of foreign interference, after Robredo sought the help of the United States in the war on illegal drugs.
READ: Robredo taps US for drug war
He recalled that during his time as PNP chief, he was closely coordinating with foreign counterparts―the US Drug Enforcement Agency, Australian police, the Hong Kong Narcotics Bureau and the Taiwan Ministry of Justice and Investigation.
He said this kind of coordination was useful, particularly in addressing supply-side problems. With MJ Blancaflor, Francisco Tuyay, and Macon Ramos-AranetaREAD: Leni turns to UN for ‘lessons’READ: ‘Body cams give cops an edge’READ: Duterte: Give Leni greater leeway
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