Philippine Vice President Leni Robredo on Friday promised to end the spate of killings in the country’s crackdown against illegal drugs as she met with law enforcement officials.
Robredo, leader of the country’s main opposition party, said it was time to change the methods in the war against illegal drugs popularly called Operation Tokhang in the Philippines.
“I have always been very vocal about my opposition to the killings that accompanied Operation Tokhang,’’ she told reporters at the start of her first meeting with officials of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD).
“Because of the many senseless killings that accompanied Operation Tokhang, it reached a certain level of notoriety that when you say Tokhang it means a war against the poor,’’ she said.
“It is incumbent upon us to change that mindset. It is time to think about changing the campaign to one that is more effective but without killing senselessly,” she added.
“I believe that in all police operations, anything can happen. But what we are against is the planning of the killing of the innocent.’’
According to latest police statistics, 5,779 suspects have been killed in anti-drug operations from July 2, 2016 to Aug. 31, 2019.
Estimates by human rights groups place the number killed at more than 12,000.
President Rodrigo Duterte appointed Robredo to lead the campaign against illegal drugs after she said in interviews that the crackdown has failed to stop the illicit trade, despite the high death toll.