Robredo open to talks with China vs drug smuggling in PH

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo said on Thursday, November 14, that she is open to meet with Chinese officials to help stop the entry of illegal drugs from China.

Robredo made the statement when asked on Thursday, November 14, if she, as co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD),  would request for a meeting with officials from the Chinese embassy in relation to the fighting the drug problem in the country.

“Iyong sa akin, gusto kong kumalap ng mas maraming datos. Kasi iyong pinaka-report talaga sa atin ngayon, karamihan sa supply na pumapasok dito, galing China. Pati iyong mga nahuhuli na mga nag-o-operate within the Philippines, karamihan Chinese nationals or Filipino-Chinese nationals. So it is something that we should look into,” said the Vice President.

(On my part, I want t gather a lot of data. The crux of the report we received is that most of the supply coming in the country is from China. Even those caught operating within the Philippines, most are Chinese nationals or Filipino-Chinese nationals. So it is something that we should look into.)

Robredo talked to reporters after meeting officials from the ICAD law enforcement cluster, whom she directed to collate by the end of the year the baseline figures on the extent of the drug problem in the country. 

The Vice President said it was also necessary to “look into” the booming online gambling industry, as Chinese nationals have been accused of using Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) as fronts for money laundering. 

“Iyong sa money laundering, na-bring to our attention ito, iyong mga gambling, iyong mga casinos…. Ngayon, ang daming POGO. Nagiging instrumento siya sa money laundering, so kailangan siyang harapin,” said Robredo.

(Money laundering was brought to our attention, gambling, casinos.... Now there are so many POGOs. They become instruments of money laundering so they should be addressed.)

China had earlier urged the Philippines to halt all online gambling operations, after linking the industry to crimes such as money laundering, kidnapping, and extortion. (READ: A Chinese online gambling worker's plight in Manila)

Robredo reiterated the need for the Philippines to work together with other nations to help address transnational issues like illegal drugs and money laundering. 

“Hindi siya nangyayari sa Pilipinas lang. Pero iyong pagsugpo talaga, beyond our borders. So ako, ako, iyong akin talagang intent, hindi lang iyong US (United States) iyong kausapin, hindi lang iyong UN (United Nations) kausapin, pero kausapin iyong iba pang mga bansa na tingin natin makakatulong sa atin,” the Vice President said.

(This doesn't only happen in the Philippines. Fighting the problem extends beyond our borders. So for me, my intention is not just to meet with the US and the UN, but to also talk to other countries that we think would be able to help us.)

The ICAD co-chair already met with officials from the US government, which expressed its “full support” to help the Philippines fight drugs. She had also met with representatives from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to discuss the "best practices" of other Southeast Asian nations in combating illegal drugs. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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