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Duterte: Leni will see realities on the ground with ICAD job

VICE President Leni Robredo

VICE President Leni Robredo

President Duterte on Wednesday said it was good that Vice President Leni Robredo finally accepted his offer to be the government’s drug czar, saying this will give her the opportunity to know the realities on the ground, especially with the so-called extrajudicial killings.

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said yesterday that Duterte welcomed Robredo’s decision to take his offer to become the co-chairperson of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs during the Cabinet meeting in Malacanang.

“The President mentioned it was good that Vice President Ma. Leonor Robredo accepted his formal offer to co-chair the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs,” he said. “With the Vice President at the helm of the anti-narcotics campaign, President Duterte expects that the former would see the realities on the ground, particularly with respect to the government’s position against extrajudicial or State-sponsored killings, and understand that deaths occur due to the violent reactions on the part of agents of the illegal drug trade against the strict enforcement of the law,” he added.

Robredo was unable to attend the Cabinet meeting Wednesday, that would have been her first following her resignation as Housing chief after being directed to stop attending on December 2016.

Panelo said that according to Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Robredo has called for a meeting at the ICAD.

Panelo said this move by the Vice President did not surprise him. “Ibig sabihin, she is very dedicated to assume her new job,” he said.

However, while Malacanang has yet to formally invite the Vice President to Malacañang, Panelo said it would now be up to Robredo if she would still want to talk to the President about her new role.

“Palagay ko dapat si VP Leni ang mag-request. Member of the Cabinet na siya, eh. Palagay ko pupunta si VP Leni dito,” he said. “Depende kung ano pa’ng gusto niyang malaman kay Presidente. Ibig sabihin nagtatrabaho na siya,” he added.

The camp of Robredo has assured administration allies and critics that she is ready for the tough task ahead in the government’s relentless campaign against illegal drugs.

Vice presidential spokesperson Barry Gutierrez said Robredo accepted the challenge to lead the drug war but it seemed like it was Duterte’s allies who were unprepared for her.

“Alam ni VP Leni ang bigat ng trabahong tinanggap niya. Handa siya para dito. Sa dami ng kuda nila dito, ang lumalabas, sila ang hindi handa para sa kaniya,” Gutierrez said.

Gutierrez, who is also a legal adviser to Robredo, was responding to the remarks by Senators Christopher “Bong” Go and Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa that she can’t be soft in implementing the campaign.

“Sa tingin ko gusto ata’ niya (Robredo) i-baby ang mga drug lords, gusto niya ata paramihin?” Go was quoted as saying in reaction to Robredo’s leadership role in the ICAD. “War is not a bed of roses, it can’t just be playing cute, it can’t be all talk, action is needed,” Dela Rosa said when sought for his advice to the Vice President.

Gutierrez said the senators’ statement showed the designation of Robredo to co-chair the anti-drug body was politically motivated. (Argyll Geducos and Raymund Antonio)