President Rodrigo Duterte has appointed Vice President Leni Robredo as the co-chair of the campaign against narcotics, although VP spokesperson said their side could not take the offer as the position is nonexistent. 

On Tuesday, a member of the VP’s Liberal Party said that Robredo was “being set up to fail” with her appointment as Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs co-chair

After the announcement, Robredo’s spokesperson, Barry Gutierrez, stated that the VP has not yet accepted the position. 

“How can we accept the position when it is meaningless? If you look at the executive order creating the [committee], the co-chair post is nonexistent,” Gutierrez told in a news conference, Tuesday evening. 

However, Barry did not say if Robredo will accept or reject the appointment. 

According to him, the VP will be meeting with the President on Wednesday to give her comments and suggestions to help the administration fight illegal drugs. 

Different from first offer as drug czar

Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Gutierrez was wrong with the accusations. 

Panelo said the President has the “continuing authority to reorganize the bureaucracy,” so there is no need of amendment to create a position for Robredo on the interagency committee. 

On Tuesday, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman also made a statement to emphasize that the co-chairmanship was “vastly different” from the President’s initial offer to Robredo as his drug czar. 

“The diluted position validates the fear that the Vice President is being set up to fail,” Lagman said.

This was after the chief of Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, Aaron Aquino, who is also the chair of the committee, said the Vice President would only fail as leader of the war on drugs

Image Source: Reuters 2017

Panelo said that Robredo is welcome to attend the Cabinet meeting on Thursday for her new role that carried Cabinet rank. 

Robredo would have “proactive role” in the anti-illegal drugs campaign, said Executive Secretary Salvador Medialde, the one who sent the letter of appointment to the Office of the Vice President. 

“She will have a hand in crafting the policies and programs of the government and at the same time ensure the proper implementation of anti-illegal drug operations and advocacy initiatives,” he said.


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