In VP camp, cloud of doubt remains hanging over Robredo appointment as drug czar
MANILA, Philippines – The camp of Vice President Leni Robredo is taking her official appointment as drug czar with a grain of salt, with her spokesperson reviving doubts about Palace sincerity.
Barry Gutierrez, Robredo spokesperson, said the Vice President’s camp has several questions about what he said was the “problematic” memo issued by Malacanang and which officially appointed Robredo as co-chair of the newly-formed Interagency Commission on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD).
Guttierez said such a position does not exist, citing Executive Order No. 15, which he said would show that President Rodrigo Duterte was not serious about his offer for Robredo to be in the lead in the campaign against narcotics.
“If you read EO 15, the powers are merely implementation of policy, no control, no supervision over the 41 agencies included in the ICAD, and we think this does not capture the President’s original offer,” said Gutierrez in Filipino.
“We don’t view this as a serious offer,” he said. “I, the President, the executive secretary are all lawyers, I cannot believe that lawyers who know the Constitution, who know the administrative code, would have given this kind of memorandum. It’s a measure of their seriousness,” he said.
Gutierrez also said that another concern is Robredo sharing the post with Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Aaron Aquino — who might have already prejudged the Vice President’s capability when he said Robredo was likely to fail in the anti-drug campaign.
“We were surpised that instead of being designated as drug czar, she was appointed co-chair and her co-chair is the head of the PDEA. The very same person, Usec Aquino, who yesterday said that VP Leni has no experience and he expects her to fail,” said Gutierrez.
At a press conference, Gutierrez still did not give an answer on whether Robredo would accept Duterte’s offer. Rather, he said that the Vice President will present her plans and suggestions to Duterte on Wednesday, likely in a letter that would be sent to Malacañang.
He also insisted that Robredo was serious in helping solve the country’s drug problem, but by going after the big drug lords and not the poor who have been killed in the government’s war on drugs.
The plan to appoint Robredo as drug czar first came to light after Duterte reacted angrily to Robredo’s criticisms of the drug war as ineffective.
Duterte initially said he could offer Robredo the last three years of his term but later clarified that what he wanted for Robredo was to be drug czar so she could see up close how tough the anti-drug campaign is.
Robredo initially did not respond because there was no formal offer except for text messages from presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo. /tsb
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