- Vice President Leni Robredo has accepted the offer to lead the anti-illegal drugs campaign until 2022
- Robredo will co-chair the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs with Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Chief Aaron Aquino.
- Robredo said she aims to stop extrajudicial killings during her stint.
MANILA, Philippines—Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo on Wednesday finally accepted the administration’s offer to be the co-chairman of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD), with an aim of putting an end to extradjudicial killings until 2022.
“Kung ito ang pagkakataon para matigil ang patayan ng mga inosente at mapanagot ang mga kailangang managot, papasanin ko ito,” Robredo said in a short briefing at the Quezon City Reception House.
(If this is the opportunity to end extrajudicial killings and penalize those who should be make accountable, I will take this challenge.)
“Hindi laro-laro ang usapang ito. Seryosong usapan pag buhay ang nakataya. Tinatanong nila kung handa ba ako para sa trabahong ito. Ang tanong ko: handa na ba kayo para sa akin?” she noted, with a smile.
(This issue is not just a joke. It is a serious issue when life is involved. They have been asking if I’m ready to take on this job. This is my question: Are you ready for me?)
Other things that Robredo wishes to fulfill in leading the anti-drug campaign: to give a voice to the families of the victims of extrajudicial killings and go after the drug lords aside from the small drug dealers.
Robredo also clarified that she does not intend to politicize her acceptance of the designation, should there be an opportunity to vie for the presidency in 2022.
“Hindi ako nagpahayag ng aking mga puna sa drug war dahil naghahabol ako ng puwesto. Hindi ko hiniling ito. Sa Pangulo nanggaling ang ideyang ito,” the Vice President stressed.
(I did not express my views against the drug war because I’m after a political post. I did not wish for this. This is the idea of the President.)
The Office of the Vice President told The Manila Times that Robredo had already submitted her acceptance letter to Malacañang at around 1:00 p.m. on the same day.
The memorandum read: “I accept the designation ‘to lead the Government’s efforts against illegal drugs.’ Thank you.”
Meanwhile, Robredo’s spokesperson Barry Gutierrez noted that they will be going over the details of the Vice President’s new designation in the next few days.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo had earlier welcomed the appointment of Robredo, noting that this was a “golden opportunity worth taking.”
Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Chief Aaron Aquino added that with Robredo’s Cabinet rank, she “can well contribute” particularly on the “rehabilitation and reintegration” of drug users.
This would be the second time that Robredo was offered a Cabinet post amid differences with the administration. She previously led the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council from July to December 2016 but resigned after Duterte ordered her to “desist from attending all Cabinet meetings.”
Her resignation came after she and the President allegedly expressed opposing views on the burial of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, among other issues.
Robredo, a staunch critic of the war on illegal drugs, previously noted that the administration should re-asses the lapses of the campaign, specifically the growing number of drug addicts despite the campaign going on full swing since 2016.
Data from the Philippine National Police showed that there have been at least 5,000 deaths related to the government’s drug war as of January 2019.
Various rights groups, however, have maintained that the death toll has reached more than 27,000 since Duterte took office in 2016. – Manila Times