Duterte hopes Leni will see drug war ‘realities’

Helen Flores, Christina Mendez, Cecille Suerte Felipe, Emmanuel Tupas - The Philippine Star
Duterte hopes Leni will see drug war ârealitiesâ
Panelo said President Duterte has expressed hope that Robredo would be able to better understand the administration’s drug war now that she has agreed to serve as co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD).
Ace Morandante / Presidential Photo

MANILA, Philippines — With Vice President Leni Robredo at the helm of the government’s anti-drug campaign, she is in a better position to see the “realities” of the war against illegal drugs, presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said yesterday.

Panelo said President Duterte has expressed hope that Robredo would be able to better understand the administration’s drug war now that she has agreed to serve as co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD).

Panelo said the Chief Executive also hopes Robredo would understand the reality “that deaths occur due to the violent reactions on the part of agents of the illegal drug trade against the strict enforcement of the law.”

Following her acceptance of the post, the Vice President was not able to attend the Cabinet meeting last Wednesday where she was expected to appear before Duterte and discuss her role to spearhead the anti-drug campaign.

Panelo said that at the Cabinet meeting, Duterte relayed his high expectations for Robredo after she accepted his offer.

“Well, he welcomes the appointment – rather the acceptance to the appointment of the Vice President,” Panelo said at a press briefing.

“He expressed it’s good that she’s back in the Cabinet, that’s what he said,” Panelo said.

Panelo said it is up to Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea to coordinate with Robredo for her meeting with the President.

Robredo’s role in the administration’s drug campaign as well as the parameters of her authority as anti-drug czar were not discussed during the Cabinet meeting, Panelo said.

Panelo did not speculate when asked whether Robredo’s new role will have an impact on the President’s satisfaction ratings in the next survey. 

“I think that will depend on the performance of the VP as drug czar. And ultimately, will depend on the respondent’s subject of the survey; how they will evaluate or assess the performance of the Vice President,” he said.

Robredo has led critics against Duterte’s signature initiative that left thousands of suspected drug offenders killed since he took office in 2016.

Duterte often reacted with fury when the global community and international groups raised concern over the spate of extrajudicial killings in the campaign against illegal drugs.

Panelo was rather timid in committing to whether Robredo will be allowed to provide information to certain bodies such as the United Nations and international human rights groups which have been looking at the government’s bloody drug war.

“The policy of the President (is) that he doesn’t want these people intruding into the affairs of the state,” Panelo said, saying any move by ICAD should be consistent with government policy.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said the President has full trust and confidence in Robredo running the anti-illegal drugs campaign.

“OK, Leni; the ball’s with you; you won’t hear anymore from me; play –clean and true; the President trusts you’ll do your best,” the acerbic foreign affairs chief tweeted.

“Good attitude. You won’t need luck; you’ll get the help you need. Your task is laid out for you; parameters are clear: success measured in body counts of dealers, reduction of supply and users. Seek no help from Europeans who don’t bathe daily or Democrats,” he said.

Locsin warned Robredo against consulting with Commission on Human Rights (CHR) chairman Chito Gascon, who he said “is working for those who don’t shower daily; maybe he doesn’t.”

He also advised Robredo to be as harsh to the so-called “ninja cops,” or police officers who pilfer seized drugs, and tap the services of former Philippine National Police chief Oscar Albayalde.

He described Albayalde as a doer and a good man, who was “traduced by civilian shets.”

Locsin suggested the Vice President should prepare for her new designation by attending the coming United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime review in Vienna, Austria even as he vowed to get the US Drug Enforcement Agency (USDEA) to cooperate with her.

“They’re (USDEA) toughest and best. No sissy stuff – just go out there and, to quote the great US doctrine in Vietnam: ‘Kill anything that moves.’ Love that about America,” Locsin said.

He said Robredo’s supporters who did not want her to take the post might just be afraid that she would succeed.

“You wanna give profuse thanks to Duterte for giving her the chance to show she can do better than his men? You should. It is just good manners; not that one expects that from just anybody but who knows one might accidentally come across one,” he said in responding to a Twitter post of STAR columnist Boo Chanco.

“Those male chauvinists in the LP (Liberal Party) do not think VP Leni can do it. She should show them,” Chanco tweeted.

Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) director general Aaron Aquino sees no problem if Robredo would want to examine documents

related to the war on illegal drugs.

Aquino said they would leave the books open to Robredo for her to see the developments of the campaign and where it is headed.

Aquino welcomed Robredo’s decision to accept “the challenge,” saying he already instructed members of the ICAD to prepare a briefing for the Vice President on the government’s accomplishments.

“We are all looking forward to working with the new ICAD co-chair,” Aquino said.

Now that Robredo is again part of Duterte’s Cabinet, Interior and Local Government Undersecretary and spokesman Jonathan Malaya expressed confidence the Vice President can now base her criticisms on facts.

“Instead of grounding your criticisms on baseless allegations, now you will ground your criticisms on facts,” Malaya said.

Despite being the government’s fiercest critic, Robredo can contribute to the success of the drug campaign, Malaya said.

“We feel the Vice President can give us fresh perspectives and alternative strategies,” he said.

Former national police chief Sen. Ronald dela Rosa welcomed Robredo’s decision to join the drug war.

“I am very optimistic that she will be successful in the war on drugs with her on board because of the additional perspective she could provide,” Dela Rosa said.

When asked on his expectations, Dela Rosa refused to comment, saying he is not familiar with the Vice President’s capabilities and expertise.

“Expectations? I don’t really know her very well… but really from the bottom of my heart I thank her for joining in this fight,” Dela Rosa said.



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