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‘Duterte drug campaign a failure’

This file photo taken on July 23, 2016 shows Jennilyn Olayres hugging the dead body of her partner Michael Siaron who was shot by unidentified gunman and left with a cardboard sign with a message ‘I’m a pusher’ along a street in Manila. Hundreds of people have died since President Rodrigo Duterte won a landslide election in May, promising to rid society of drugs and crime in six months by killing tens of thousands of criminals. (Inset): This file photo taken on July 18, 2016 shows inmates peeking from their cell inside the Quezon City Jail in Manila. Images of hellish conditions at an overcrowded Philippines jail have triggered calls on Aug 4 from lawmakers and rights groups for swift reforms to the penal system which is under strain from an anti-drugs crackdown. (AFP)

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs has failed to substantially eradicate the menace and ensnare major drug lords and should be reformed to prevent further bloodshed, the country’s vice president said Monday.

Vice President Leni Robredo, who leads the opposition, also called for a stop to the dreaded police practice of home inspections that have led only to the killings of petty drug suspects. It’s the latest criticism of Duterte’s notorious crackdown by the vice president and is likely to deepen the political divide between the two leaders.

Presidents and vice presidents are elected separately in the Philippines, resulting in candidates from rival parties like Duterte and Robredo ending up in the country’s top leadership and often colliding on policies. Robredo said only about 1% of the estimated supply of methamphetamine, a powerful banned stimulant locally known as shabu, has been seized in the last three years, since the crackdown was launched by Duterte when he took office in mid-2016.

“Very clearly, based on official data, despite the killings of Filipinos and all the money spent, the amount of shabu and drug money we’ve seized has not gone beyond 1% of those in circulation,” Robredo said at a news conference. “If we really want to end the scourge of illegal drugs, we need to run after the big suppliers and not just the small-time pushers,” Robredo said, adding the campaign would not succeed unless it’s reformed to be more strategic, better organized and closely supervised in all aspects by the president.

Her remarks were largely based on information gathered during a brief stint in a government anti-drugs committee, which Duterte asked her to help lead last year after being piqued by her constant criticisms of his bloody crackdown. Robredo surprisingly accepted the offer, but Duterte fired her after 18 days after she started seeking confidential information about the campaign. (AP)

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