Trillanes: Offer to Robredo to lead drug war a ‘distraction’
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent appointment of Vice President Leni Robredo as the co-chairperson of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) is just meant to distract from what he said were failures of the administration, former Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV said.
“I see it as a political distraction. It has no value,” Trillanes, speaking partly in Filipino, told reporters in an interview on Tuesday. “As I said, this offer should give full authority [to Robredo]. It seems that this being pushed as an issue so it would be discussed instead of his [the President’s] failure.”
“This started with the assessment of Vice President Leni that the number of drug users had been increasing, according to Duterte himself. This means that the program was failing,” Trillanes added.
Trillanes had discouraged Robredo from accepting the post, saying she should not settle for less than absolute authority to address the illegal drug problem.
“This is just for distraction. They will play with her. But she is not the issue here. The issue is Duterte’s approach [to the problem] for the past three years,” he said.
Trillanes expressed confidence, however, that Robredo would succeed should she be given absolute authority to lead the administration’s campaign against illegal drugs.
“For me, on the assumption that Duterte would give full authority to VP Leni, she should go after the drug lords that remained untouched under the Duterte administration for the past three years,” he added.
“The past three years, Duterte focused on suspected users. But the drug lords who should have been the focus were neglected,” he went on.
Last Oct. 31, the President offered to make Robredo the anti-drug “czar.”
This was after the Vice President criticized the administration’s brutal drug war and said that it should be reassessed.
“We ask ourselves: ‘Why is this still happening?’ The President has already made very serious threats to drug syndicates, to drug lords … and yet it’s still very prevalent. So obviously, it’s not working. We have seen a lot of police that have abused their powers and not been penalized,” Robredo told wire news agency Reuters.
The President has gained international and local condemnation for his crackdown on illegal drugs, which has so far killed at least 5,000, mostly poor people, nationwide.
Last July, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) even adopted an Iceland-initiated resolution that would prompt the rights body to launch a thorough review of the human rights situation in the Philippines, including drug war killings under the Duterte administration.
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