Duterte serious about making Robredo his anti-illegal drug czar

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PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte’s offer for Vice President Maria Leonor G. Robredo to head the state’s crackdown against illegal drugs is a chance for her to prove her mettle as the head of the opposition, the presidential palace said yesterday.

“The ball is in her court,” presidential spokesman Salvador S. Panelo said. “She should take the opportunity.”

Mr. Duterte on Monday said he would make Ms. Robredo his drug czar for six months given her repeated criticisms. She declined to comment on Mr. Duterte’s offer, saying she was unsure whether he was serious.

Also yesterday, Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III recommended the appointment of Ms. Robredo as chairman of the Dangerous Drugs Board.

“If it’s a serious proposal, it’s best if the VP is appointed as DDB chair and concurrent Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency director general,” Mr. Sotto, a Duterte ally, told reporters.


Speaker Alan Peter S. Cayetano, another Duterte supporter, asked Ms. Robredo to clarify how to implement a “health-based approach” in the anti-drug campaign. He said the vice president did not offer a concrete alternative to solve the drug menace.

The vice president last week said Mr. Duterte should “assess and tweak” his war on drugs that has killed thousands because more and more people were still becoming hooked on drugs.

Mr. Duterte promised during his campaign in 2016 to end the illegal drug problem in six months.

Majority of Filipinos remained satisfied with Mr. Duterte’s deadly war on drugs that has killed thousands, despite worldwide criticism, according to a Social Weather Stations (SWS) poll in September.

The Philippine police have said they have killed more than 6,000 people in illegal drug raids, many of them resisting arrest. Some local nongovernmental organizations and the national Commission on Human Rights have placed the death toll at more than 27,000. — G.M. Cortez and C.A. Tadalan