VICE President Leni Robredo vowed Friday, October 29, to maintain the intensity of President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs but with a different approach if she gets elected in 2022 elections.

Robredo is running for president in next year’s polls. She filed her certificate of candidacy on October 7 as an independent candidate.

Robredo said her administration’s approach on the anti-illegal drugs campaign will be more “holistic.”

"Ganoon katindi, pero sa ibang paraan (That intense but in a different way). What we had was too heavy on the enforcement side," she said in a press conference Friday, October 29, in Bicol.

“Hindi puwedeng enforcement lang kasi nakita natin over the past five and a half years, sobrang daming namatay. Pero ang question, nawala ba (ang droga)? Ang sagot hindi,” she added.

(It should not be enforcement only, because as what we’ve seen over the past five and a half years, a lot of people died, but the question is, was illegal drugs eradicated? The answer is no.)

She said she saw the problem of the administration’s drug war during her 19-day stint as co-chairman of the Inter-Agency Committee Against Illegal Drugs (Icad).

Robredo said Icad should be chaired by the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB), instead of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), which is more inclined on enforcement on the ground.

“Ang paniniwala ko ‘pag DDB iyong umupo na chair, ang plano niya hindi lang patay, patay, patay. Ang plano niya talagang (I believe that if DDB chairs the Icad, the plan will not only be to kill, kill, kill. The plan will be) very comprehensive, heavy on prevention, heavy on rehabilitation,” she said.

From July 1, 2016 to August 31, 2021, law enforcement agencies conducted a total of 213,504 anti-illegal drug operations that resulted in the killing of 6,191 individuals, while 307,521 drug suspects were arrested.

Meanwhile, Robredo said she will also continue the implementation of Duterte’s infrastructure drive, including farm-to-market roads, cold storages, solar dryers and mass transport improvement, as well as other programs aimed at alleviating poverty.

“No amount of success, magagandang edifice, magagandang infrastructure projects, iyong pagtaas ng income ng mamamayan -- hindi siya sapat kung marami pa rin iyong naiiwan sa laylayan,” Robredo said.

(No amount of success, beautiful edifice and infrastructure projects, increasing the income of communities -- it’s not enough if many will still be left on the outskirts.)

“Ipagpapatuloy natin iyong Build, Build, Build. Pero sisiguraduhin natin iyong napupuntahan ng pera para sa infrastructure, meron na itong direct impact sa pag-angat ng mga nasa laylayan,” she added.

(We will continue the Build, Build, Build program. But we will make sure that the money for infrastructure has direct impact on the improvement of those in the outskirts.)

Robredo said her top priority is the country’s recovery from the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

The Office of the Vice President has initiated various efforts amid the Covid-19 pandemic, including the provision of service assistance to health workers and the public affected by the lockdowns to prevent the spread of the virus. (SunStar Philippines)