MANILA, Philippines – The formal appointment of Vice President Leni Robredo as the Duterte administration’s drug czar on Tuesday just brought out the old doubts of the Office of the Vice President on the government’s sincerity.
According to spokesperson Barry Gutierrez, several questions arise from the “problematic” memorandum issued earlier by Malacañang, appointing Robredo as co-chair of the Inter-Agency Commission on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD).
Gutierrez said such post did not exist, according to Executive Order No. 15 — which supposedly indicates that even with the formal letter, the administration is still not serious with its offer.
“If you read EO 15, the powers are merely the implementation of policy, with no control, no supervision over the 41 agencies included in the ICAD, and we think this does not capture the President’s original offer.” Gutierrez, speaking partly in Filipino, said at a press conference.
“We don’t view this as a serious offer. I am a lawyer, the President is a lawyer, his executive secretary [Salvador Medialdea] are all lawyers. I cannot believe that lawyers who know the Constitution, who know the administrative code, would have given this kind of memorandum. It’s a measure of their seriousness,” he added.
READ: BREAKING: Duterte appoints Robredo co-chair of gov’t committee vs illegal drugs
Gutierrez added that another concern was Robredo having to share the post with Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Aaron Aquino — who previously said that the Vice President would fail in addressing the drug menace.
“We were surprised that, instead of being designated as drug czar — or the head of the whole operation — she was appointed co-chair. And her co-chair is the head of the PDEA — the very same person, Usec Aquino, who said yesterday that VP Leni has no experience and he expects her to fail,” Gutierrez said.
In the same press conference, Gutierrez still did not give an answer on whether Robredo would accept Duterte’s offer.
Rather, he said that the Vice President would present her plans and suggestions to the President on Wednesday, likely in a letter that would be sent to Malacañang.
He also insisted that Robredo remained serious in helping solve the country’s drug problem — but by going after the big drug lords and not the masses who had been killed under the government’s war against illegal drugs.
SpeculationS about the President’s offer came after he slammed Robredo for criticizing the drug war in interviews with journalists working for foreign news sites.
The President initially offered Robredo to take over the three remaining years of his term. But he backtracked by saying that his offer was for a “drug czar” post.
Robredo initially did not respond because there was no formal invitation and that presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo only sent out a text message.
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