Hours after Vice President Leni Robredo accepted the ‘drug czar’ position, Malacañang suggested that she should meet with President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to discuss the “parameters of her power” as co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD).
In an interview on Wednesday, Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo invited Robredo to join the Cabinet meeting in Malacañang that is scheduled today.
“I think the next step is for her to go to the Palace and talk to the President so she would know exactly the parameters of her power as the drug czar so she would know exactly what she will do or what she intends to do, to tell the President what she has in mind so the President can help her,” Panelo said.
Panelo also emphasized that the meeting could serve as an opportunity for Robredo to inform the Chief Executive of her plans for the controversial and highly-criticized war on drugs campaign.
“It’s always a good step for any public official who would want to help this country,” he noted.
Following Robredo’s acceptance of the Cabinet position, Panelo added that there’s no need for a formal invitation towards her.
“It goes without saying that you’re a member of the Cabinet then you are free to come to join us. But if she would want an invitation, well we can always give it to her,” he said.
In a press conference, Robredo accepted the position, pointing out that she did not ask for the position and that President Duterte came up with the idea of having her oversee the anti-illegal drugs campaign of the government.
“Mula simula, ang gusto ko ay ang maging maayos ang kampanya laban sa iligal na droga. Itigil ang pagpatay sa mga inosente. Panagutin ang mga abusadong opisyal tulad ng mga ninja cops at mga nagpalusot ng tone-toneladang shabu,” Robredo said after announcing that she accepted the position.
“Bigyan ng hustisya at boses ang mga pamilya ng mga pinaslang na walang kasalanan. Habulin ang mga malalaking drug lords na talagang sumisira sa ating lipunan, hindi lang ang maliliit na nagtutulak sa kanto-kanto,” she added.
President Duterte challenged Robredo to take over the administration’s War Against Illegal Drugs for six months after she questioned the effectiveness of the campaign during an interview with international news organization Reuters.
Robredo, meanwhile, vowed to persevere in her new government post even if the agencies under her will defy or sabotage her programs.
She stressed that her new post in government will not silence her criticisms on issues concerning the anti-illegal drug campaign of the Duterte Administration.
“Alam ng Pangulo kung ano ang posisyon ko sa drug war: tutol ako sa pagpatay ng mga inosente, kontra ako sa pang-aabuso ng mga opisyal. Alam niya ang aking mga puna. Alam niya ang mga balak kong ayusin,” the Vice President said.
“Kaya kung iniisip niya na sa pagpayag na ito ay tatahimik ako, nagkakamali siya. Simula pa lang, handa tayong tumulong sa ikabubuti ng bayan. Pero kailanman, hindi natin isusuko ang ating mga paniniwala,” she added.
Robredo also made a call for her and President Duterte to work together in their last two and a half years in office.
“Hindi laro-laro ang usapang ito. Seryosong usapan kapag buhay ang nakataya. Tinatanong nila ako kung handa ba ako para sa trabahong ito. Ang tanong ko: handa ba kayo para sa akin,” Robredo said.
“Mr. President, dalawa’t kalahating taon na lang ang naiiwan sa iyong administrasyon. Hindi pa naman huli ang lahat. Puwede pa nating pagtulungan ito,” she added.