President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday dared Vice President Leni Robredo to take on his role as the country’s anti-illegal drugs czar for six months, apparently irked by her remarks that the administration should reassess its campaign.
Duterte said he will send a letter through Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea to formally ask Robredo to assume the drug czar role.
“I just want to know if she has the capability. She talks too much,” Duterte told reporters after the oathtaking of new officials in Malacañang Monday evening.
“Call her. I can talk to her tonight and will order tomorrow that everybody should follow her in the matter of the drug issue,” he added.
Duterte made the move following a report by international news outfit Reuters quoting Robredo as saying that the administration should abandon the anti-narcotics drive since it is “not working.”
Robredo, however, clarified she did not say the drug war should be stopped.
“I said a different thing. If you look at my interview, I only said that the government must assess if it is using the right strategies. Because if those were wrong, there is a need to tweak. Tweak means you have to change since it seems there are things that they do that no longer are working,” she said.
The Reuters headline read: “Philippine vice president says time for Duterte to halt failed drug war.”
The Vice President said despite the government’s war on drugs that left over 5,000 people killed, the number of drug addicts and users went up from 1.8 million in 2016 to about 7 million to 8 million by February this year.
She based the figures on the Dangerous Drugs Board and the President himself.
“Isn’t it only right? What’s wrong with what I said? Isn’t it only right to assess if there are things that are no longer working in the campaign? If from the start there are only 1.4 million drug addicts, and that despite the campaign, it swelled to 7 million to 8 million now, then that could only mean something must be worked out,” she said.