Philippine VP accepts ‘drug czar’ post offer

Philippine Vice President Ma. Leonor "Leni" Robredo.

Philippine Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo on Wednesday accepted an offer installing her as a drug czar to combat the proliferation of drug use in the country.

At a news conference, Robredo said she accepted President Rodrigo Duterte’s offer to be the co-chairperson of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD), which she would be sharing with Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency chief Aaron Aquino.

“This (drug) issue is not a game. A person’s life should be taken seriously. They were asking me if I am ready for this position, but my question is, are you ready for me?” Robredo said in Filipino.

“The president knows my position on the drug war: I am against killing the innocent and the abuse of power by government officials. He knows all my criticisms. He knows what I want to be fixed,” she added.

“So if he thinks that I am shutting my mouth because I accepted this position, well he is wrong.”

Initially, Robredo’s camp was mum over Duterte’s offer, but later said that one of the things she considered in accepting the position was the chance to save innocent lives.

Duterte’s offer was borne out of his frustrations over Robredo’s remarks that the drug war should be stopped.

Robredo later clarified that she was not seeking to stop the drug war but was asking for Duterte to reassess the program.

In a separate statement, the Philippine National Police (PNP) welcomed Robredo’s acceptance of the post, saying the agency will work hand in hand with the vice president.

“As a member of ICAD, the PNP will extend to her utmost courtesy, cooperation, and full support towards the attainment of a drug-free Philippines by 2022,” said PNP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac in a statement.

Banac said the president has yet to instruct how the PNP and Robredo will operate on the drug war, except for an earlier order to “fully cooperate and support” Robredo in her position.

“The PNP will cooperate as the inter-agency body deems it necessary and the details we are sure will be taken up as soon as the inter-agency body convenes. We are awaiting for the pronouncement of the Vice President,” Banac said.

“This is an inter-agency body. It is not only the PNP that will decide on the issues to be taken up when the body convenes,” he added.