VICE President Leni Robredo said President Duterte’s “offer” for her to be his government’s “drug czar” and lead the war on drugs is a tacit admission that his campaign is a failure.
“Kung walang failure, bakit ipapasa sa akin, ’di ba? Kasi ipapasa mo lang ang isang bagay kapag hindi mo na kayang gawin (Why pass the buck to me if there was no failure? You only pass something if you can’t do it),” she told reporters in Iloilo City late Tuesday afternoon.
“Kung successful kasi siya, hindi kailangang ipasa, kasi wala nang ipapasa eh. Kasi nagawa mo na. Pero kung ipapasa mo sa iba, hindi ba admission iyon na ang dami pang kailangan gawin? (If it’s successful, there’s no need to pass the buck to others because there’s nothing to pass because you’ve done the job but if you pass it, isn’t it an admission that there’s still a lot to be done?),” Robredo added.
The President on Monday offered to make Robredo his drug czar as he lashed at her for saying that administration’s bloody war against illegal drugs is a failure and must be “tweaked.”
Duterte wants her to lead the drug war for six months but it was not clear if the comment was meant sarcastically.
“Bakit hindi muna pakinggan bago mag-react nang galit? Kasi kapag galit na, marami na tayong hindi nagagawa (Why not listen first before reacting angrily? Because once you’re already angry, we start failing to do a lot of things),” Robredo said.
The Vice President also criticized presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo for saying that he texted her to know if Robredo is interested in the President’s offer.
“Kahit walang paggalang sa akin, igalang na lang iyong posisyon. Kung ite-text ka ng isang bagay na ganiyan, hindi iyon seryoso. Kasi marami namang paraan para ipaabot sa akin kung talagang, talagang seryoso. (Even if he doesn’t respect me, just respect my office. If you will be sent text message about something like that, it’s not serious. There are a lot of ways to let me know if the offer is serious),” Robredo said.
In response, Panelo said: “VP Leni should not be offended by the text message of this representation, giving her a heads up or an advance information for her to ponder. Such must be considered as a gesture of a friend to another given our history of sharing cellular texts with each other.”
“In all honesty, I even thought that I was giving her a favor to which I anticipated an appreciative reply,” he added.
Earlier in the day during a briefing in Malacañang, Panelo showed reporters the text message he sent to Robredo. He likewise attempted to call her but the number that he called just rang.
Panelo maintained Duterte was serious when he offered the drug czar position to Robredo.
He likewise denied that the President was passing on the responsibility of the campaign against illegal drugs to the Vice President because the Duterte administration’s war on drugs was a failure.
“The President’s offer to VP Leni Robredo of being the Drug Czar does not mean that the war on drugs is a failure. The offer is a sincere gesture on the part of PRRD for VP Leni to provide her the venue to undertake a new tact in solving the drug menace, if in her mind the present method of dealing with the scourge of the prohibited drugs is a failure or ineffective,” he said.
“She may have a better solution. This is an enticing opportunity to show her mettle as a public servant in destroying the drug apparatus, as well as helping the people freed from this fatal threat to society. Entertaining the offer as insulting is an exercise in intellect devoid of logic,” he added.
Panelo said the Office of the Executive Secretary has yet to send a formal letter detailing the offer of the President to Robredo. He said the letter was still “in the making.”
Panelo, on a personal note, said that the President might agree to extend the six-month period if the Vice President performed well as drug czar.
He said Robredo might also benefit from her drug czar stint as doing well might boost her chances for higher office.
He cited as example the case of then vice president Joseph Estrada who handled the anti-crime campaign of the Ramos presidency and later become resident. He believes that Estrada’s being the anti-crime czar then helped his presidential bid.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III advised those critics of the government’s anti-drug campaign as well as those who don’t know how complex the problem is to just “zip it.’
In Twitter post, Sotto said the campaign against the illegal drugs trade is a daunting and complex problem that needs the full resources of the government and the help of the citizenry to succeed.
“War vs Drugs is an ongoing Struggle. You only fail if you stop fighting. If you don’t know this complex crime, zip it!” he said.
On Tuesday, Sotto said Robredo should be appointed to head the Dangerous Drug Board (DDB) and concurrent the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) as a venue for her ideas on solving the illegal drugs menace.
Deputy Speaker Mikee Romero of 1-Pacman party-list said the administration and the opposition should help each other in fighting the problem.
He said members of the opposition can help the administration by proposing other solutions to the problem.
“The administration and the opposition can collaborate, work together to stamp out illegal drugs. It’s a tough fight so we have to be united in this campaign. We can’t be divided,” Romero said. – With Jocelyn Montemayor and Ashzel Hachero