By Charissa Luci-Atienza
Opposition lawmakers welcomed Wednesday Vice President Leni Robredo’s acceptance of the drug czar post, even as they asked the Duterte administration to give her the “full authority”, “tools”, and “leeway” to fulfill her role and make the war on illegal drugs as the country’s war against poverty.
Quezon City Rep. Jose Christopher “Kit” Belmonte said they were not surprised that Robredo accepted the post offered by President Duterte.
“She will never shrink from any responsibility to do what she can to make our people’s lives better,” he told reporters, reading the House LP caucus’ statement.
“VP Leni does not play high politics with the lives of our people. We know that her sincerity overcame her own doubts, and it overcomes ours. If the administration is serious, we know that VP Leni is more serious to help,” he added.
Belmonte said with Robredo’s acceptance to serve as co-chairman of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD), they hope that the government’s drug policy would be shifted and fully address the root causes of the drugs menace in the country.
“If she is given the tools and is empowered by the administration, we can now altogether prove: The war on drugs can be part of the war against poverty— and not a war against poor people,” he said.
“We approach this development with cautious optimism and with great pride in the courage and sincerity of our Party Chairperson,” he said.
Minority Leader Bienvenido Abante Jr. expressed hope that Robredo would be given “full authority” to carry out her responsibilities as co-chairman of the ICAD.
“As co-chairman of our President, I hope she will have full authority to do what she must do. She must have her own people,” he said.
He even appealed to the country’s leaders “to rise above politics and let the Filipino people be benefitted over all the decisions being made by the administration.”
For her part, Marikina Rep. Stella Quimbo said Robredo should be allowed to choose her own team.
“I hope she will be given leeway to choose her own team, and even choose the heads of important agencies, like PDEA and DILG,” she said.
Before Robredo accepted the post, Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers said there is no reason for Robredo to decline the post.
“The Vice President should accept the position. It is no longer politics,” he said. “There is no politics here. This is for the country. The drugs problem in the country is huge, we should stand united,” he stressed.