By Genalyn Kabiling and Argyll Cyrus Geducos
The post of anti-drug czar may be a make or break opportunity for Vice President Leni Robredo, but the public should refrain from prejudging her and, instead, give her a chance to prove her mettle, according to a Palace official.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said Robredo could apply her own strategy in enforcing the laws against the illegal drug trade after accepting the post as new co-chairperson of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD).
The ICAD was created by President Duterte through Executive Order No. 15 and is composed of various 21 member agencies. Among its functions is to ensure the effective conduct of all anti-illegal drug operations and arrest of high-value drug personalities including street-level peddlers and users.
“Let’s not be judging her. Ang sinasabi ko huwag muna tayong tumalon, hayaan mo siyang dumiskarte [Let’s not presume. Let’s give her a chance to strategize],” Panelo said in a recent radio interview.
“Of course mahirap magtrabaho [It’s a difficult job]. She will be just like walking in a high wire, she either makes it or breaks it,” he added.
In a text message, Panelo expressed confidence that Robredo will act accordingly after she learns for herself the real deal in the war against drugs.
“Let her do her job,” Panelo said.
“When she joins the raid and the police operations, she will be exposed to the realities on the ground. After that, she will plan how to succeed in her job. Give her space,” he added.
Panelo, however, voiced confidence in the capability of Robredo to carry out her latest job, saying “this is her moment.”
“Bright naman iyan si VP Leni, kaya niya iyan [VP Leni is bright. She can do it],” said Panelo, who recently claimed that the drug czar post might be Robredo’s ticket to the presidency if she succeeds.
He said Robredo has an opportunity to “correct” the perceived flaws in the anti-drug campaign after criticizing the President on his alleged failure in fighting the drug menace.
“Siya ang magpapakita sa atin, hindi tayo. Kasi siya ang nag-criticize di ba. Ibig sabihin meron siyang mga nakikita sa kanyang pananaw na mali na iko-correct niya, oh eh di pagbigyan natin [She must show us, not us, because she was the one who criticized. It means she saw something that she believes to be wrong that must be corrected. So let’s give her the chance],” he said.
Panelo also assured Robredo anew that the administration was ready to support her in the campaign against illegal drugs. He said they would not let Robredo fail since it will also be the failure of the administration.
“We wish her well. We will give her all the support that she need,” he said.
Robredo recently accepted President Duterte’s offer to lead the war on drugs, vowing to ensure that no one will be killed outside the bounds of law.
After welcoming her decision to rejoin the Cabinet, the Palace said Robredo should meet the President and discuss the scope of her power and functions as new ICAD co-chair.
Duterte earlier offered to give Robredo the power of law enforcement for six months after she criticized the alleged failure of his war on drugs. The Cabinet-rank designation was formally offered to Robredo with a term until June 30, 2022 in a memorandum signed by the President last October 31.
Malacañang said Vice President Leni Robredo should be given the opportunity to do whatever she wants as she heads the government’s initiatives against illegal drugs.
On Thursday, Malacañang learned that Robredo already called for a meeting in the ICAD. Panelo said this move by the Vice President did not surprise him.
“Ibig sabihin (It just means) she is very dedicated to assumer her new job,” he said.
Malacañang also welcomed Robredo’s decision, saying the Vice President was finally her own person.
“Her acceptance shows she is smarter than her colleagues in the opposition who do not want her to succeed in serving the people. She is finally her own person,” Panelo said Wednesday.
“She is much better off listening to her own instincts as a mother and a lawyer,” he added.