Palace: Duterte won't meddle with Robredo's work as drug czar

VICE President Leni Robredo will have a free hand in handling the drug problem in the country, Malacañang said on Wednesday, November 6, after she accepted President Rodrigo Duterte’s challenge for her to co-chair the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (Icad).

In a press conference, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the executive branch would let Robredo be “on top of the situation” in addressing the rampant narcotics trade in the country.

"We will give all the support. Being a member of the Cabinet, it behooves upon all of us to help each other because her success is the success of all the Cabinet, as well as this administration, and ultimately, the Filipino people," he said.

"Her success is our success and her failure would be our failure. I don't think we would want that," he added.

The statement was issued shortly after Robredo agreed to lead the Icad, along with Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director General Aaron Aquino.

She will serve as co-chair of the anti-drug body until Duterte’s term expires in 2022.

Panelo said Duterte would not meddle, unless Robredo asks for assistance.

"Kung hinihingi ang tulong ni Presidente, bakit naman hindi siya tutulungan (If she asks the President's help, why would she not get assistance)? Meanwhile, we will let her lead that agency," he said.

Panelo said the Palace believes in Robredo’s capability in helping the administration fight the illegal drugs.

Aquino earlier raised worry that Robredo might not be able to lead the drug war as she lacks experience.

Panelo, however, said Robredo can eventually master her new role under the Duterte government.

"She will learn all the job. Lahat naman 'yun (She will learn). Everyone learns," the Palace official said.

"Let us not underestimate the capability of this Vice President. When she was criticizing, she appeared to have a lot of ideas in her mind because she said it's not effective. Then let's use other tactics that she must have, a lot of ideas in her mind," he added. (NASE)