Robredo finally accepts offer of drug czar role from Duterte

Philippine Vice-President Leni Robredo has finally accepted President Rodrigo Duterte’s invite for her to be the co-chairperson of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD).

Robredo said this Wednesday, a day after the president’s office sent out a memorandum appointing her to the post, that she would share the chair with Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) chief Aaron Aquino.

According to Robredo, one of the things she considered in accepting the post was the lives that she could save if she had a hand in the drug war.

Her allies have suggested that it could be a trap set by Duterte to see her fail.

“In the end, the most important consideration for me was simple – if this was the chance to stop the killings of the innocent people and put accountability on those responsible behind drug crimes, then I will bear it,” Robredo explained. “That’s why I accepted the job given by the president.”

Initially, Robredo’s camp was quiet on whether or not she would accept or decline the appointment, with spokesperson Barry Gutierrez saying that the “problematic” memorandum offered a non-existent post, according to Executive Order No. 15.

‘Ready to endure everything’

However, despite questions lingering with the offer, Robredo said that she will just focus on what she can contribute to the anti-drug campaign.

“Let’s say this offer is just politics and that the agency really won’t follow my orders or they will do anything for me not to succeed, I’m ready to endure everything,” Robredo said.

“From the start, I want the campaign against illegal drugs to be in order. Stop the killings of the innocent ones. Make abusive officials accountable, like the ninja cops and those who let tonnes of shabu slip into the country,” she added.

Duterte’s invite for Robredo to handle the government’s anti-drug operations was borne out of his frustration with her remarks in an interview with foreign media, where she supposedly said that the drug war has to be stopped.

Robredo later clarified that she never intended to ask for the complete stoppage of the drug war, but she only sought for a reassessment of the programme.

It took some time for Robredo to respond to Duterte’s offer, as she doubted its sincerity.

She also fumed at presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo’s supposed invite sent through text messages, asking the administration to respect her office.