Robredo to Duterte: Don’t be ‘onion-skinned’ over the drug war

Mara Cepeda
Robredo to Duterte: Don’t be ‘onion-skinned’ over the drug war
'Pero kung walang failure, bakit ipapasa sa akin, ’di ba? Kasi ipapasa mo lang ang isang bagay kapag hindi mo na kayang gawin,' says Vice President Leni Robredo on the war on drugs

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo told President Rodrigo Duterte he should not be too sensitive whenever she criticizes his violent war on drugs. 

“Again, uulitin ko: Hindi ito nadadala sa init ng ulo. Ang wini-wish ko lang, sana hindi maging balat-sibuyas pagdating dito…. Kasi iyong ating puna, may basehan naman,” Robredo told reporters in Iloilo City on Tuesday, October 29. 

(Again, let me repeat it: You can’t let anger get the better of you. I just wish he wouldn’t be onion-skinned when it comes to this…. My criticisms have basis.)

“Bakit hindi muna pakinggan bago mag-react nang galit? Kasi kapag galit na, marami na tayong hindi nagagawa,” she added. 

(Why can’t he listen before he reacts angrily? Because if one is angry, then we would not be able to accomplish many things.)

The Vice President has once again earned the ire of Duterte after she said in a Reuters interview that the drug war needs to be “tweaked” because it is “not working.” 

Smarting from Robredo’s criticism, the President said he would give her powers over all anti-drug activities for 6 months

But Robredo said that by offering her to become the drug czar, the President seems to be saying that his anti-illegal drugs campaign is a failure.  

“Pero kung walang failure, bakit ipapasa sa akin, di ba? Kasi ipapasa mo lang ang isang bagay kapag hindi mo na kayang gawin,” said Robredo. 

(But if there’s no failure on his part, he wouldn’t pass the job on to me, right? You only pass a task to someone else if you can’t do it.)

Several senators expressed doubt that Robredo would be an effective anti-drug czar. But Senate President Vicente Sotto III himself said if Duterte were serious about his offer, then he should appoint Robredo as chief of either the Dangerous Drugs Board or the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.  

The Vice President already said she doubts Duterte was serious in his remarks. But would she consider an appointment should the President make a formal offer in paper?

It’s still a no for Robredo.

“Maraming beses na nakatanggap na ako ng invitation, babawiin nila. So parang nagsasayang tayo ng energies,” said the Vice President. (They have sent me invitations many times, only to retract them afterwards. It’s like were wasting energies here.) 

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

The Duterte administration has stopped inviting Robredo to official government functions. They only meet each other during events of the military, which still regularly invites 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. (READ: The Impunity Series) –

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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 or tweet @maracepeda.