Robredo accepts appointment as 'drug czar'

VICE President Maria Leonor "Leni" Robredo on Wednesday, November 6, accepted her appointment as co-chairperson of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) amid apprehensions that this is a ruse to discredit her.

In a press conference Wednesday, Robredo said this might be an opportunity for her to stop the killing of "innocent" drug war victims and hold abusive officials accountable, such as policemen who recycle seized illegal drugs or ninja cops and those who were behind the smuggling of illegal drugs into the country.

"Ang pinakamahalagang konsiderasyon para sa akin ay simple lang - kung ito ang pagkakataon para matigil ang patayan ng mga inosente at mapanagot ang kailangang managot, papasanin ko ito. Kaya tinatanggap ko ang trabaho na ibinibigay sa akin ng Pangulo," she said.

(My most important consideration is simple - if this is a chance for me to stop the killings of innocent persons and hold those responsible accountable, I will bear this burden. I accept the position that the President has offered me.)

"Mula simula, ang gusto ko ay maging maayos ang kampanya laban sa ilegal na droga, itigil ang pagpatay ng mga inosente, panagutin ang mga abusadong opisyal tulad ng mga ninja cops at mga nagpalusot ng tone-toneladang shabu, bigyan ng hustisya at boses ang mga pamilya ng mga pininsala na walang kasalanan, habulin ang malalaking druglords na talagang sumisira sa ating lipunan, hindi lang ang maliliit na nagtutulak sa kanto-kanto," she added.

(From the start, I have always pushed for a stop to the killings of innocent persons, hold abusive officials accountable such as ninja cops and those who smuggled tons of shabu, provide justice and voice to the families of innocent victims, go after the big druglords who have destroyed our society instead of the small drug pushers.)

Robredo said she was advised against accepting the position because she would just be made a scapegoat for the administration's failure to put a stop to the illegal drugs trade in the country.

Malacañang released Robredo's appointment paper Tuesday, about a week after President Rodrigo Duterte said he would turn over his law enforcement powers to Robredo in reaction to a report quoting the Vice President as saying that the administration's war on drugs has been ineffective, Duterte later qualified his statement and said that he would make Robredo the "drug czar" for six months.

Robredo's official appointment paper states that she will serve as co-chairperson of ICAD until June 30, 2022, which is currently chaired by the director-general of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

The PDEA, Philippine National Police (PNP) and Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) have been directed to render full assistance and cooperation to Robredo.

Both the PDEA and PNP leadership have expressed support for Robredo.

Robredo said she was not after the "drug czar" position when she criticized the government's war on drugs.

"Hindi ko hiniling ito. Sa Pangulo nanggaling ang ideyang ito (I did not ask for this. This was the President's idea)," she said.

She also said she already anticipated the lack of support from the government agencies involved in the anti-drug campaign.

"At kahit sabihin na natin na ang alok na ito ay pamumulitika lamang at hindi naman talaga ako susundin ng mga ahensya at gagawin nila ang lahat para ako ay hindi magtagumpay, handa akong tiisin ang lahat ng ito," she said.

"Dahil kung meron akong maililigtas na kahit isang inosenteng buhay, ang sinasabi ng prinsipyo at puso ko ay kailangan ko itong subukan," she added.

(Even if this is just politics and the government agencies will not really obey me, but do everything they can to ensure that I will not succeed, I am ready to endure this. Because if I can save just one innocent person, my heart dictates that I need to try my hand at this.) (MVI/SunStar Philippines)