Duterte to give Robredo a Cabinet secretary rank as drug czar

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte plans on giving Vice President Leni Robredo a Cabinet secretary rank as the administration’s drug czar to show the seriousness of his previous offer, Malacañang on Thursday, October 31.

Under the drug czar position, Robredo would oversee all bureaus and agencies involved with the enforcement of the law on prohibited drugs as well as anti-drug programs. 

“To dispel all doubts on the sincerity of the Chief Executive’s offer, as well as to put a halt to the discordant pessimism of the opposition, the president renews his offer to the vice president…’ said presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo in a statement.

According to him, Duterte is offering the position to Robredo once again after critics called it a “trap” because it would be “impossible for VP Leni to solve the social problem with a limited period of six months and without the support of anti-drug bureaus and agencies.”

“The Office of the President wishes to be categorical — and contrary to the claim of critics and detractors of this administration, we want VP Leni to succeed, her success being ultimately a triumph of the Filipino people against the dreaded and destructive evil that is destroying the basic fabric of our society,” the spokesman added.

Duterte on Monday, October 28 said that he would temporarily designate Robredo as the Philippines’ anti-drug czar following her remark that his war against illegal drugs is “obviously, not working.” 

This is so Robredo can find out for herself how hard it is to eradicate the country’s drug problem, according to the chief executive.

“I said if she wants I can commission her to be the drug czar. Marami na siyang reklamo dun sa labas, o sige sabi nya you have to redirect, or whatever (She has many complaints, okay she said you have to redirect, or whatever). Ngayon mas marunong ka man sa akin (Now if you know better than me), I’ll hand to you full powers sa drugs. I’ll give you 6 months, tignan natin kung kaya mo (We’ll see if you can handle it),” Duterte said.

“I am ready to concede to you powers that would cover all anti-drug activities by the government…Clean slate para malaman nya kung gaano kadali mag-kontrol ng droga (Clean slate so she knows how easy it is to control drugs),” he added.

The vice president was previously housing secretary for the administration, but resigned from that post in 2016. 

Ritchel Mendiola

Ritchel Mendiola is a staff writer and reporter for the Asian Journal. You can reach her at ritchel.mendiola@asianjournalinc.com.

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