MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo on Tuesday, July 12, threw her support for the Duterte administration’s war on drugs but expressed concern over the rising incidence of “vigilantism and violence” associated with the effort.
Robredo made the statement a day after she attended her first Cabinet meeting as housing chief, where she was apprised of the Duterte administration’s anti-drug campaign, among other administration programs.
“We support President Duterte’s declaration that the fight against drugs and crime must be done with an uncompromising exercise of the rule of law. However, there have been over a hundred cases of drug-related reported killings in less than a month,” she said.
“While we are one with the fight against drugs, we are concerned with the growing culture of vigilantism and violence. We hope that the war is not done at the expense of the innocent and defenseless,” Robredo added.
Over 70 drug suspects have been killed since President Rodrigo Duterte took his oath on June 30, on on top of the more than 40 related deaths recorded since Duterte won the May 9 elections and before he officially assumed office. (READ: Drug suspect killings rise after Duterte victory)
The President had won on a platform of reducing crime nationwide in 3-6 months. A month before he assumed the presidency, he promised to pay a P3-million reward for the capture or death of drug lords.
Deviating from the administration position and consistent with her own stand on human rights issues, Robredo joined calls for a probe into the alleged extrajudicial killings involving drug suspects.
“We encourage authorities concerned to look into these cases. If there is really culpability, then justice requires that appropriate cases be filed and that those proven to be accountable be punished,” said Robredo, who is also a lawyer.
“Since the President is a lawyer and former prosecutor, we trust that he will do what is appropriate,” she added.
Though she had pledged her cooperation and support for the Duterte presidency, Robredo had consistently maintained that she would not compromise when it comes to human rights issues.
Two of Robredo’s party mates at the Liberal Party are backing a congressional inquiries into the killings. Ifugao Representative Teddy Baguilat Jr has filed a resolution for a House inquiry into the incidents, while Senator Leila de Lima is set to file a resolution for a similar probe at the Senate.
The Duterte administration had slammed De Lima’s move, in particular, alleging that her proposed inquiry is not in aid of legislation but is meant to “legally harass” policemen from carrying out an effective anti-drug campaign.
Before either of them were eyeing national positions, Duterte and De Lima had been at odds with one another. De Lima, then justice secretary, launched an investigation into Duterte’s alleged involvement in the Davao Death Squad, a vigilante group targetting petty criminals in Davao City. – Rappler.com