Philippine Vice President Leni Robredo on Monday said she was determined to stop the spate of killings in the government’s campaign against illegal drugs even after she was fired from leading the crackdown.
“Even if I was stripped of the position, they cannot remove my determination – determination to stop the killings, hold accountable those, who were responsible and win the fight against illegal drugs,” she said.
“If they think this is the end, they don’t know me. I’m only starting,” she added.
Robredo, an outspoken critic of the anti-illegal drugs campaign, was appointed co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) on Nov. 5 after she said in interviews that the crackdown has failed to stop the illicit trade.
On Sunday, 18 days later, President Rodrigo Duterte fired her from the position, alleging that she “wasted” the opportunity and used her appointment “to attack the methods undertaken by this administration.”
Robredo said her firing made her wonder if the government was serious in fighting illegal drugs or if she stepped on personal interests during her short stint.
“When I accepted this job, my question to them was, are you ready for me? Now, my question is, what do you fear? What do you fear that I will find out? What do you fear that the public will find out?” she said.
According to police statistics, 5,779 suspects were killed in anti-drug operations from July 1, 2016 to Aug. 31, 2019.
Estimates by human rights groups place the death toll at more than 12,000.