Fact checks on public officials

FALSE: Robredo cites wrong drug war numbers at UN talk

Rappler
FALSE: Robredo cites wrong drug war numbers at UN talk
There is no record of the Vice President presenting this statistic in her 2019 meeting with the UN
At a glance:
  • Claim: Vice President Leni Robredo reported in a meeting with the UN that there had been 27,000 drug-related deaths under the Duterte administration.
  • Rating: FALSE
  • The facts: There are no records of Robredo citing this number in a meeting with the UN.
  • Why we fact checked this: This claim on Facebook has 1,044 reactions, 896 shares, and 189 comments as of posting.
Complete details:

Facebook user Jun Avelino claimed in a post that Vice President Leni Robredo supposedly reported in a meeting with the United Nations (UN) that there had been 27,000 deaths under the Duterte administration’s drug war. According to Avelino, this is contrary to Philippine National Police (PNP) data, which only recorded over 4,000 killings at that time.

As of writing, Avelino’s post had 1,044 reactions, 896 shares, and 189 comments.

This claim is false.

There is no record of the Vice President presenting this statistic in a meeting with the UN.

Avelino’s post said: “At the height of the government’s war on drugs, VP Robredo went to speak before a UN instrumentality and presented a report full of lies, depicting our country as a rogue state with the government authorities killing more than 27,000 Filipinos for Duterte’s war on drugs. Police records however refuted such report as the country had at that time, over 4,000 deaths on drug related cases.”

Robredo met once with the UN Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) in November 2019. She conducted a closed-door meeting with representatives from the UNODC as the co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD).

There are no records of what exactly was said or presented at the meeting. According to OVP Chief of staff Undersecretary Philip Dy, the meeting was conducted primarily to discuss the ‘best practices’ of other Southeast Asian countries in combating illegal drugs.

At that time, PNP recorded a total of 5,552 drug-related deaths since July 2016, not 4,000 as specified in the claim.

The PNP did dispute drug war numbers that Robredo cited in 2017, when a video address by the Vice President was played at a side event during the 60th annual meeting of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs.

In the video, Robredo said that “more than 7,000 people have been killed in ‘summary executions’” since July 2016. The PNP refuted this statement, saying that there were only 2,582 killed in legitimate drug operations and 4,049 “deaths under investigation” (DUI) at the time.

There has been confusion on the drug war numbers due to the term DUI, which had never been used by the PNP before August 2016. Former PNP Chief Ronald dela Rosa described DUIs at a Senate hearing on August 18, 2016, as deaths that took place outside legitimate police operations. They later said that DUI numbers should not automatically be considered as a result of the drug war. However, DUI numbers were previously included in PNP statistics relating to the drug war. (READ: TIMELINE: The PNP’s use of the term ‘deaths under investigation’)

Robredo’s legal adviser Ibarra Gutierrez defended her, citing the 7,000 figure in an interview with ANC Headstart on March 21, 2017. He said that the number killed in drug operations plus the DUIs would bring the number to 6,000. Updated figures at the time, he said, would bring the number to around 8,000.

The 27,000 figure cited in the claim is an estimate made by rights groups like the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and Human Rights Watch.

Rappler reached out to Avelino but has not received a response as of posting. – with reports from Vernise Tantuco, Hyacinth Estrada/Rappler.com

This article was written by a volunteer of Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program, a 5-week exclusive and hands-on training on detecting, investigating, and verifying online misinformation and disinformation.

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