Palace insists offer for Robredo to be drug czar, details terms of plum post

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 31 2019 08:28 PM | Updated as of Oct 31 2019 10:21 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte shares a light moment with Vice President Leni Robredo on the sidelines of the commencement exercises of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) ‘Mabalasik’ Class of 2019 at Fort General Gregorio Del Pilar in Baguio City on May 26, 2019. King Rodriguez, Presidential Photo

MANILA - Malacañang on Thursday said President Rodrigo Duterte was serious in offering the drug czar post to Vice President Leni Robredo, who earlier this week criticized his war on drugs as "obviously, not working."

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said should Robredo succeed as drug czar for 6 months, it would be "ultimately a triumph" for Filipinos.

Panelo said the vice president would be given a cabinet secretary portfolio and would be in-charge of all agencies involved in the implementation of anti-illegal drug laws under her command, should she take Duterte's offer. 

"To dispel all doubts on the sincerity of the Chief Executive’s offer, as well as to put a halt to the discordant pessimism of the opposition, the President renews his offer to the Vice President to become the anti-illegal drugs czar, with all offices, bureaus, agencies or government instrumentalities involved in the enforcement of the law on prohibited drugs placed under her command and supervision with a cabinet secretary portfolio, to ensure her effectiveness in combating the drug menace," Panelo said.

Robredo, who heads the opposition, had doubted the sincerity of Duterte’s earlier offer, saying if the President's anti-drug campaign was a success, he would not have delegated it. 

But Panelo said Duterte really wanted Robredo to win the war on drugs.

"The Office of the President wishes to be categorical -- and contrary to the claim of critics and detractors of this Administration, we want VP Leni to succeed, her success being of the Filipino people against the dreaded and destructive evil that is destroying the basic fabric of our society," he said in a statement.

Robredo, who used to be Duterte's housing secretary, has a frosty relationship with the chief executive as they are usually at odds over several policies and issues.