By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
President Duterte has welcomed the decision of Vice President Leni Robredo to accept his offer to be the government’s drug czar, saying this will give the latter the opportunity to know the realities on the ground, especially with the so-called extrajudicial killings.
“The President mentioned it was good that Vice President Ma. Leonor Robredo accepted his formal offer to co-chair the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD),” presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said after a Cabinet Meeting in Malacañang Wednesday evening.
“With the Vice President at the helm of the anti-narcotics campaign, President Duterte expects that the former would see the realities on the ground, particularly with respect to the government’s position against extrajudicial or state-sponsored killings, and understand that deaths occur due to the violent reactions on the part of agents of the illegal drug trade against the strict enforcement of the law,” he added.
Robredo was not able to attend the Cabinet Meeting on Wednesday evening.
President Duterte offered the post of drug czar to Robredo in late October after she criticized that the drug war was a failure and needed reassessment.
Malacañang on Tuesday released a copy of a memorandum from the Office of the President, stating Robredo’s appointment as ICAD co-chairperson until the end of her term, or unless sooner revoked.
The ICAD was created by President Duterte through Executive Order No. 15 and is composed of 21 member agencies. Among its functions is to ensure the effective conduct of all anti-illegal drug operations and arrest of high-value drug personalities including street-level peddlers and users.
Based on the memorandum signed by President Duterte on October 31, the Philippine National Police (PNP), Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB), and all other law enforcement agencies were also instructed to “extend their full assistance and cooperation” to Robredo to ensure the success of the government’s efforts on the drug war.
On Wednesday, Robredo said she accepted Duterte’s offer because she thought it was an opportunity for her to end the killings and hold those behind them accountable.
“Kung ito ang pagkakataon para matigil ang patayan ng mga inosente at mapanagot ang mga kailangang managot, papasanin ko ito (If this will be my chance to end the killings among the innocent people and hold those behind it responsible, then I will bear this),” she said.
Malacañang welcomed Robredo’s decision, saying the Vice President was finally her own person.
“Her acceptance shows she is smarter than her colleagues in the opposition who do not want her to succeed in serving the people. She is finally her own person,” Panelo said Wednesday.
“She is much better off listening to her own instincts as a mother and a lawyer,” he added.