Duterte offers Cabinet rank post to Leni
Duterte said he is ready to appoint Robredo in a Cabinet capacity as drug czar to enable her to help the administration’s drug war instead of the Vice President constantly questioning the drug campaign.
Photo by OVP
Duterte offers Cabinet rank post to Leni
Helen Flores, Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) - November 2, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA,Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo would have a Cabinet rank post if she accepts President Duterte’s offer for her to lead the war on illegal drugs.

Duterte said he is ready to appoint Robredo in a Cabinet capacity as drug czar to enable her to help the administration’s drug war instead of the Vice President constantly questioning the drug campaign.

“If I would take her in as the drug czar, I will have to first make her a Cabinet member. Then I will give her the marching orders and the specific functions. All in connection with drugs, kaniya (hers),” the President said in an interview at a Catholic cemetery in Davao City on Thursday evening after he visited his parents’ tombs.

He said choosing the next Philippine National Police chief won’t even be a problem if Robredo accepts his offer.  

“Pagka tinanggap ni  Leni (If Leni accepts)… If anything that has to do with drugs and criminality, you ask her. Siya ang ilagay ko. Tingnan natin. Hindi na ako makialam (I’ll put her there, let’s see. I won’t interfere)” Duterte said.

Duterte, who ran on a campaign to stop drugs in his first six months in office, has sort of admitted he was unable to solve the problem three years into his six-year term.   

“Sabihin mo sa kanya tanggapin niya. Sisikat siya diyan. Hindi ko nakayanan, baka kaya niya (Tell her to accept it, she’ll be famous. I couldn’t do it, maybe she can),” the President said, referring to the Vice President.

Duterte said he can even give Robredo the rest of his six-year term to address the drug problem. “I will swear her in as Cabinet member. First, balik siya so that she will have the authority. Eh alam mo ang Cabinet members are alter ego lang ng Presidente ‘yan. So kung may gawain ang Cabinet member, it is as if it is mine. So to make it legal, just a little fiat,” the President said. 

He said he does not even need the approval of Congress in allowing Robredo to have full authority to solve the drug menace in the country.

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said Robredo would be in charge of all agencies involved in the narcotics crackdown if she agrees to become the country’s anti-drug czar.

“The President renews his offer to the Vice President to become the anti-illegal drugs czar, with all offices, bureaus, agencies or government instrumentalities involved in the enforcement of the law on prohibited drugs placed under her command and supervision with a Cabinet secretary portfolio, to ensure her effectiveness in combatting the drug menace,” Panelo said in a statement on Thursday.

Robredo, who has had a frosty relationship with Duterte, has called for a review of the controversial war on drugs, saying the problem persists despite the rising number of suspects killed in operations.

Apparently annoyed by Robredo’s criticism, Duterte said he was willing to let Robredo lead the drug war for six months because she seemed to be more capable of handling the problem. 

Robredo has ignored the offer, saying the country’s problems cannot be addressed through insults.

Critics have claimed that the offer to Robredo was a trap because Robredo cannot solve such a huge problem in so little time.

But Panelo said the President’s renewal of his offer proves that he is serious about tapping Robredo in the anti-drug campaign.

If Robredo accepts the offer, it would be her second Cabinet rank post in the Duterte administration.

She served as housing chief for a few months until she was prohibited from joining Cabinet meetings in December 2016 due to her alleged participation in anti-Duterte rallies.

‘Robredo no scapegoat’

The Vice President, however, should not be used as a scapegoat for all the shortcomings of the administration’s drug war for the past three and a half years, her spokesman Barry Gutierrez said yesterday.

“This admin made the impossible promise to end crime and drugs in six months, and if they are now being called to account for their failure to deliver, they should not blame VP Leni for it,” Gutierrez said.

He said Robredo had long been wanting to help in the administration’s anti-illegal drug campaign, but her efforts were “ignored.”

“As early as 2016, VP Leni engaged with DILG and other agencies to give suggestions on how to improve government efforts against illegal drugs. Her inputs were not acted on, and the admin excluded her from further discussions soon after,” Gutierrez said in a statement.

“If the President is asking for help in his ‘drug war,’ he should have relayed it in a formal discussion and not just through text, or through media stunt,” he said.

“It is unfortunate that on the eve of one of our most holy days, a time for family and for prayer, the President is launching yet another tirade against VP Leni,” he said.

Duterte on Thursday also urged Filipinos not to vote for Robredo if she decides to run for president.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. also pressed Robredo, saying that the President was serious and that she could earn the gratitude of Filipinos if she accepted the post and helped the administration.

“Just bumped into Sal. The offer is serious,” Locsin said on Twitter, referring to Panelo. – With Alexis Romero

“(Duterte) wants the drug trade terminated––not legalized so it becomes a public-private offering with the biggest IPO. Within that cosmically broad parameter, try to solve it... or not, but still get the nation’s gratitude, Leni,” Locsin continued, stressing that the offer for a cabinet position was not meant to insult Robredo. – With Alexis Romero

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