VP Leni, US execs discuss potential programs vs. illegal drugs

Vice President Leni Robredo on Wednesday discussed with US officials ongoing and future projects between Washington and Manila in addressing the illegal drug trade in the country.

US Embassy in Manila’s press attaché Heather Fabrikant confirmed to the media that Robredo and officers from relevant US agencies met in Quezon City upon the Vice President’s request.

Fabrikant said the interagency US government working-level delegation was comprised of officers from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Agency, the Department of State and US Agency for International Development.

In a statement, Fabrikant said the two parties discussed the current state of US-Philippines counter-narcotics cooperation as well as “ongoing and potential US government-funded programs to assist the Philippine government efforts in drug demand reduction.”

Although future US-funded programs have been discussed during the meeting, Fabrikant, in a separate text message, said there had been “no commitments made”.

As this is the first meeting between the US officials and Robredo as the co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD), no areas of focus on the potential programs have been identified yet.

“That is what the meeting was about. Stay tuned,” Fabrikant said.

In the past, Washington and Manila have worked on strengthening drug demand reduction initiatives in the country.

Last May, at least 52 officers from the Philippine National Police, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, the Philippine Public Safety College, and Xavier University attended specialized training on substance use disorders, with the goal to provide the criminal justice sector with an evidence-based, public health approach to reducing drug demand.

The training was a component of the Embassy’s comprehensive program on drug demand reduction covering prevention, treatment, recovery, and policy development. PNA.GOV.PH