Nothing in writing, but Panelo insists offer for Robredo to be 'drug czar' is serious
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo shows a text message that he said he sent to Vice President Leni Robredo on Monday.
The STAR/Alexis Romero
Nothing in writing, but Panelo insists offer for Robredo to be 'drug czar' is serious
Alexis Romero ( - October 30, 2019 - 8:48pm

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Wednesday maintained that President Rodrigo Duterte's offer for Vice President Leni Robredo to become the country's "drug czar" is serious and is not meant to be an insult.

Robredo has ignored Duterte's supposed offer for her to lead the 'war' on illegal drugs, saying the pressing problems in the country "should not be dealt with by being sensitive and insulting others."

Robredo, leader of the minority Liberal Party, said it would be best to find solutions to problems rather than give attention to things that are "not beneficial."

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

But presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo claimed the offer was a "very good opportunity" for the vice president to show everyone that she is "not just good at criticizing."

"I was already telling her the president is serious. The fact that he said that in the national television and he said that he will write her through the executive secretary – speaks of seriousness in the tone of his offer," Panelo told reporters.

Duterte has made statements in the past, like ordering ambassadors from the European Union in October 2017 to leave the country within 24 hours, that were later walked back. 

He has also made comments on national television that were later explained to just be jokes.

RELATED: Palace: People used to, enjoying Duterte's rape 'jokes' as icebreaker

'It was not insulting'

"In the first place, it was not insulting. It was in fact a very kind gesture from the president that she will be given the venue and the avenue to show, as I said, her mettle," he added.

When asked why Duterte has not put the offer in writing, Panelo replied: "Who knows, he might come up with a letter tomorrow or the day after."

Duterte said Monday that he was "sending a letter to her through Executive Secretary Medialdea." 

"I will surrender the power to enforce the law, I will give it to the vice president, I will let her have it for six months." 

Duterte said he would ask Robredo to lead the war on drugs after the Vice President claimed the campaign is not working and should be tweaked.

READ: Can Duterte transfer his 'power to enforce laws' to Robredo?

Panelo also insisted that he sent a text message to Robredo informing her about Duterte's offer. He showed reporters the supposed text message which read: "May offer tabi sa imo si PRRD na mag Drug Czar ka for 6 months, will you accept (President Duterte has an offer for you to become the drug czar for six months. Will you accept it)?"

Robredo previously said he has not received such text message from Panelo.

Panelo even called a contact labelled "VP Leni Robredo latest" before the media but the call was not answered.

As of Wednesday, The STAR has not verified whether the number Panelo sent a message to and called really belonged to Robredo.

The government does not have an official "drug czar" although the term has been used to describe the head of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.

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