By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
Malacañang lamented Vice President Leni Robredo’s response to President Duterte’s offer to become the government’s drug czar for six months, saying any public servant should welcome such gesture which enables one to show what they are capable of.
Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo made the statement after Robredo said that Duterte’s offer was made in jest and expressed that such a statement was not only an insult but also an admission that the infamous drug war was a failure.
“Kung ipapasa mo sa iba, hindi ba admission iyon na ang dami pang kailangan gawin (If you will delegate it to another person, isn’t that an admission that there’s still a lot to do)?” she said.
“Iyong dating kasi sa akin, parang napikon. Pero iyong pagkapikon— iyong pang-iinsulto na from the very start ginagawa na sa akin. Pero iyong sa akin, hindi ko siya… hindi ko siya pag-aaksayahan ng energies (I think he was offended. But taking offense, the insult— he has been doing that from the very start. For me, I wouldn’t waste my energy on it),” she added.
In a statement, Panelo reiterated that Duterte’s offer to Robredo to be the drug czar did not mean that the war on drugs was a failure. He said it was a sincere gesture to provide the Vice President the venue to undertake a new tact in solving the drug problem if she found the present method ineffective.
The Palace official also said there was nothing insulting about Duterte’s offer which he publicly revealed Monday.
“Entertaining the offer as insulting is an exercise in intellect devoid of logic,” Panelo said in a statement.
Panelo added that the offer was also Robredo’s opportunity to show the public that she is a capable leader.
“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,” he said.
“The offer of the President should be welcomed by any true civil worker and deemed to be an opportunity to serve the people and show one’s aptitude and capability as a public servant in the service of the people,” he added.
On Monday, Duterte said he wrote Robredo a letter, offering her to lead the drug war for six months since she thought that the illegal drugs campaign needed reassessing. The President added that he was willing to talk to Robredo about the offer at any time of day.
The text message
Panelo said that Robredo should not have been offended by his text message to her, informing her about Duterte’s offer since it was just his way of giving an old friend a heads up.
“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,” he said.
“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.
On Tuesday, Panelo said he sent Robredo a text message asking her if she will accept Duterte’s offer. Robredo denied receiving such a message. Panelo on Wednesday showed reporters his text to the Vice President.
Based on the government’s data, more than 42,000 barangays have been cleared of drugs and more than P35 billion, chemicals and laboratory equipment have been seized and dismantled.
It also reported that more than 100 police scalawags, and less than 5,000 drug lords and pushers of illegal drugs, who have violently resisted arrest in buy-bust operations, have been killed during legitimate anti-narcotics operations.
Surveys also showed that 8 out of 10 Filipinos, or 82 percent, have expressed satisfaction with Duterte’s policy in his anti-illegal drug campaign.
In his statement, Panelo urged Robredo to come forward if she was not satisfied with the administration’s achievements in the drug war.
“If these numbers leave the Vice President unsatisfied with gains this administration had in dismantling the illegal drug trade, then perhaps she has a better solution in addressing the social ill and should consider accepting the President’s offer,” he said.
Last week, Robredo called on the administration to reassess its policy in dealing with the country’s drug problem, saying the drug war was only painting the Philippines in a bad light.