Duterte signs Robredo's appointment paper as drug czar
President Rodrigo Duterte has signed the appointment paper of Vice President Leni Robredo to be the "drug czar" with a Cabinet rank, Malacanang said on Tuesday.
Duterte made the appointment even without Robredo's approval.
In a memorandum dated on Oct. 31, 2019, a copy of which was made public on Tuesday, Duterte designated Robredo as co-chairperson of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs "to lead the government's efforts against illegal drugs until 30 June 2022, unless sooner revoked."
Robredo will be sharing the chairmanship with Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director General Aaron Aquino.
"The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, Philippine National Police, Dangerous Drugs Board and all other law enforcement agencies are hereby directed to extend their full assistance and cooperation to the Vice President to ensure the success of the Government's efforts in the war against illegal drugs," he said.
In an interview, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the post being offered to Robredo is a Cabinet position.
He said Robredo could attend the Cabinet meeting scheduled on Thursday once she accepts the post.
Panelo, who is also the chief presidential legal counsel, said that Robredo has a free hand to do what she wants to succeed in the task assigned to her.
Asked if Robredo would have the power to replace the PDEA and DDB heads, he said, "Maybe she can request the President because he was the one who appointed them."
On reports that Robredo also wants the authority to choose the next PNP chief, Panelo said that she has been asking too much.
"That's the problem...you are given a means, you tried to grab a bite?" he said, reiterating that Robredo should accept the offer.
"This is her moment. And we are the moment. In fact, it can be a ladder to the presidency if she succeeds, just like Erap (former President Joseph Estrada) when he became a crime czar," Panelo said in a radio interview.
If Robredo would decline the offer, he said all her criticisms on the war against illegal drugs were not true.
Duterte has offered Robredo the post following her call for the administration to reassess its bloody war on drugs.
Robredo has said that thousands of people have been killed in the campaign against illegal narcotics and yet the number of drug users continues to increase. Celerina Monte/DMS