If Duterte is serious, appoint Robredo DDB, PDEA chief – Sotto

Mara Cepeda
Vice President Leni Robredo herself doesn't believe that the President is serious with his offer, and urges him not to let his temper get the better of him when addressing questions about serious national problems

TOP PH OFFICIALS. President Rodrigo Duterte and Vice President Leni Robredo at  the 39th Philippine National Police Academy graduation on March 21, 2018. Malacanang Photo

MANILA, Philippines – If President Rodrigo Duterte really wants Vice President Leni Robredo to take over the government’s campaign against illegal drugs, then he should give her a Cabinet post. 

Senate President Vicente Sotto III made the suggestion on Tuesday, October 29, in response to questions about the President’s comments.

He said Duterte can name Robredo as chief head either the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) or the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

“If it’s a serious proposal, it’s best if [the] VP is appointed as DDB chair and concurrent PDEA Director General,” said Sotto, a Duterte ally who once chaired the DDB himself.

Smarting from Robredo’s criticism that the drug war should be “tweaked” because it is “not working,” Duterte said he would give the Vice President powers over all anti-drug activities for 6 months so she could fix the problem. 

But the Vice President herself does not believe that Duterte is serious with the offer. 

Speaking to reporters in Iloilo, Robredo advised the President not to let his temper get the better of him when addressing questions about serious national problems.

“Ako kasi, ayaw kong sagutin muna iyon kasi hindi ko alam kung gaano kaseryoso. Pero iyong sa akin lang, iyong mga mahahalaga at mga importanteng mga problema ng ating bansa, hindi naman dinadaan sa pagkapikon, hindi naman dinadaan sa pang-iinsulto,” Robredo said.

(For me, I don’t want to respond to it because I don’t know how serious he is. But in my view, you don’t let anger get the better of you, hurling insults, when we’re talking about addressing the country’s problems.)

But pressed further if she felt insulted by Duterte’s latest remarks, the Vice President merely shrugged it off.  

She said she would rather focus on her office’s anti-poverty efforts in the remaining 3 years of her term. 

“Ako kasi, from the very start, nasa receiving end na ako ng maraming pang-iinsulto ni Pangulo…. Sa dami ng gagawin, kailangan matutunan ko i-focus kung ano iyong mga mahahalaga,” said Robredo.  (READ: Robredo to Duterte: Stop ranting, focus on helping suffering Fiipinos)

In my case, from the very start, I’ve been on the receiving end of many insults of the President…. But I’d rather focus on the more important things I have to do.) 

Duterte had, on several occasions, belittled Robredo’s capability to lead the country, saying he would appoint any “outstanding” government official to replace the Vice President.

Robredo has been a critic of Duterte’s bloody war on drugs, which saw deaths of at least 5,526 drug personalities in legitimate police operations alone. 

Human rights organizations estimate the total death toll to more than 27,000, to include those killed vigilante-style. – with reports from Aika Rey/Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.