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Duterte's offer for Leni not an admission that drug war failed â Panelo
File photo shows presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo in a press conference. Panelo said that President Rodrigo Duterte's offer is "a rare opportunity" for Vice President Leni Robredo.
PCOO, File photo

Duterte's offer for Leni not an admission that drug war failed — Panelo

Franco Luna (Philstar.com) - October 29, 2019 - 3:39pm

MANILA, Philippines — Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo at a media briefing Tuesday said that Duterte's challenge for Vice President Leni Robredo was a serious one, although this was "more of an offer than a challenge."

Panelo called the offer "a rare opportunity [for Robredo] to show her mettle."

After Sen. Francis Pangilinan said on his Facebook page that the vice president should be given three years instead of six months, Panelo sounded off, saying, "I think the good senator is engaged in wishful thinking if not in a daylight nightmare." 

READ: Pangilinan: Six months too short to address illegal drugs

This comes after Duterte on Monday announced that he would transfer his law enforcement powers to Robredo for six months. The challenge, Panelo said, came amidst Robredo's call for the administration to rethink their approach towards illegal drugs. 

"The offer is precisely for the vice president to be the drug czar, because as the president says, kung magaling ka yata, sige, binigay ko sayo kung may magagawa kang paraan," he added. 

(If you think you're competent, fine, I'll give you the chance if you can come up with a solution.) 

Panelo clarified that this offer, should it be accepted, would constitute the creation of a task force for Robredo to head. 

Asked what the legal basis behind extending the offer was, the presidential spokesman replied, "He is the chief executive and enforcer of the law. He can create [a] task force and appoint people to run it." 

He also said that this was not necessarily a Cabinet-level position: "That could be a special assignment, [but] he'll create a task force or commission, whatever. She'll [Robredo] be on top of the situation." 

The presidential spokesman said the offer to be the drug czar for six months was already sent to the vice president, although he said she still had not responded. "If she declines, it only shows that it is not true that this war on drugs is a failure."  

Should the vice president not accept the challenge, Panelo said, "Tumahimik ka kung di mo naman pala kayang gawin yung na-criticize mo."

(Be quiet if you can't practice what you criticize.) 

"The ball is in her court, but if I were in her place, I would accept [the challenge]," Panelo finished. "Because as we have said you cannot keep criticizing the government, you have to offer your own talent and expertise in solving the problems of the land."

Panelo insisted once again the success of the drug war, citing that millions of pesos in shabu have been confiscated. "There were millions of surrenderees [and] we have dismantled so many illegal drug factories," he said. "Number three, there have been rehabilitation centers where we place all those drug-addicted individuals."

He added, "If you cannot call that a success, I don't know what is."

'Nanlaban'

Police data from 2017 said that over 1.26 million drug personalities have turned themselves in.

However, many more have lost their lives since the drug war began.

"There were buy-bust operations that resulted in the killing of drug pushers and those involved in [drugs] because they resisted arrest and placed the lives of the police officers in peril," Panelo added, quoting a figure from former police chief Oscar Albayalde, who said that 124 policemen were killed in the aforementioned buy-bust operations.  

This was a commonly recurring theme in police reports in buy-bust operations, with police forces claiming that only drug suspects who fought back were killed. PNP numbers place the official death toll at 5,000 suspects killed in official operations. 

However, Human Rights Watch disputes this number and said the death toll is closer to 12,000 as of January 2019. The PNP's own data showed that 22,983 such deaths have occurred since the “war on drugs” began, but these were categorized as “homicides under investigation.”

"If they’re willing to accept publicly that those 5,000 were killed because 'nanlaban', why are they not releasing the records of all those cases? Why are they not to subject each and everyone of those deaths to investigation if it was indeed nanlaban?" Carlos Conde of the Human Rights Watch told ANC's Early Edition in March.

"From my perspective, it taxes credulity that all of those 5,000 people actually fought back [and] that’s why they were killed. If that claim is true, obviously, the need is for that claim to be investigated—but we don’t see that."

DRUG WAR VICE PRES. LENI ROB­REDO
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