Agot Isidro slams Duterte offer to make Robredo drug czar

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
Agot Isidro slams Duterte offer to make Robredo drug czar
Actress Agot Isidro said that if she were in Vice President Robredo's shoes, she would not accept the offer because putting a stop to the drug trade was President Duterte's promise. 

MANILA, Philippines — Actress Agot Isidro took to her Twitter account Wednesday to protest President Rodrigo Duterte's offer to hand law-enforcement powers to Vice President Leni Robredo.

Isidro said that if she were in Robredo's shoes, she would not accept the offer because putting a stop to the drug trade was Duterte's promise. 

"Sasabihin ko lang, ikaw ang nangako. Ikaw ang nagkalat. Ikaw ang maglinis," she said. "Because in all honesty, do you think they will let her succeed?" 

(I would say, you were the one who made that promise, and you messed up. You fix your own mistake.) 

READ: Duterte critic Agot Isidro nominated for Best Actress 

Duterte on Monday announced he would transfer his law enforcement powers to Robredo for six months. This came as a response to Robredo's call for the administration to rethink their crackdown on illegal drugs which she said was "obviously not working." 

Robredo the following day said that she opted to ignore this offer as she was not sure if it was a serious one. 

"It will be difficult to pick a fight [Duterte] as it will only prolong this [exchange]. For me, it would be best to look for solutions,” she explained. “Despite the limitations and difficulties that are being thrown my way, I find ways to serve. To give attention to things that are not beneficial, I think is a waste of energy."

Sen. Francis Pangilinan also sounded off on his Facebook page Tuesday, saying the vice president should be given three years instead of six months for the offer to be fair. 

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

“It was a mere pa-andar (excuse). He promised the people that he could solve the country’s problems in a span of six months but he failed,” Sen. Leila de Lima said for her part.

Legal basis

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo at a later media briefing clarified that this was "more of an offer than a challenge."

Asked by reporters about the legal basis behind the offer, the presidential mouthpiece replied: "He is the chief executive and enforcer of the law. He can create [a] task force and appoint people to run it." 

However, according to the country's Constitution, the president can only transfer his powers to the vice president through a written declaration addressed to both the Senate president and House speaker.

Section 11 of the country's charter stipulates: "Whenever the President transmits to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice-President as Acting President."

At the media briefing, Panelo said the offer was only sent to Robredo via a text message, which she had yet to respond to at the time. Panelo clarified that the offer, if accepted, would create a "task force" for Robredo to head. 

READ: Carpio: Duterte's 'transfer of powers' to Leni needs writing, extent of authority

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." 

Not a failure

In the same briefing, Panelo took care to highlight what he said were the many success of the drug war. According to him, millions of pesos in shabu along with millions of surrenderees have been secured. 

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

"There were buy-bust operations that resulted in the killing of drug pushers [because] they resisted arrest and placed the lives of the police officers in peril," he asserted, citing a figure from former Philippine National Police chief Oscar Albayalde that some 124 policemen were killed in those operations.  

The notion that suspects fought back was a common theme in police accounts of these buy-bust operations, as cops often claimed that these suspects who fought back were only killed in self-defense. The most notorious instance of this is perhaps that of 17-year-old Kian delos Santos, whom police said drew fire on them first. 

Eyewitnesses and CCTV footage later showed that the teen was instead given a gun by officers and told to run and fire. Two Caloocan police officers were consequently found guilty of murdering the young boy and lying about it. 

PNP numbers say that around 5,000 drug suspects were killed in official police operations. However, the Human Rights Watch disputes this number, saying the death toll was closer to 12,000 as of January 2019. The PNP's own data records some 22,983 deaths that have taken place since the start of the war on drugs, but these were listed as “homicides under investigation” that didn't necessarily have anything to do with the war on drugs.

"As the president says, kung magaling ka yata, sige, binigay ko sayo kung may magagawa kang paraan," Panelo said. 

(You think you're so good, fine, I'll give you [the position] if you think you can find a solution.) 

"If she declines, it only shows that it is not true that this war on drugs is a failure."  

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