Robredo’s acceptance of anti-drug czar post a ‘very good move’ – Sotto

Aika Rey
Robredo’s acceptance of anti-drug czar post a ‘very good move’ – Sotto
'Kung maiwasan ang killings, iwasan. Pero how do you win? War nga ito,' says Senator Ronald dela Rosa, the architect of the Duterte administration's drug war

MANILA, Philippines – Senate President Vicente Sotto III called Vice President Leni Robredo’s decision to accept the anti-drug czar post offer a “very good move,” even as Senator Christopher “Bong” Go thinks she will only “treat drug lords like a baby.”

Senators on Wednesday, November 6, welcomed the Vice President’s decision, with some even offering her their help.

“[It’s a] very good move. She can start by concentrating on prevention and rehabilitation. I’m willing to give her some ideas that have worked before,” Sotto said.

“She needs all the help and we should give it to her. In my case I’m willing to share whatever modest law enforcement [experience] in my previous life, kung tatawagan ako (if she calls me),” former top cop Senator Panfilo Lacson said.

Lacson added that he hopes law enforcement agencies give their support to Robredo.

“That’s our hope suportahan siya (that they support her), not only from those working under DDB, PDEA, but from everybody. Because we want her to succeed not because we want her to succeed personally. We want her to succeed para matigil ang (to stop) illegal drugs,” Lacson said.

Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said that law enforcement agencies, as well as relevant agencies such as justice and health departments, should extend their support to the Vice President.

“In this drug war, the deaths caused by the TokHang campaign is something that we did not agree with and we will continue to do something and the Vice President has taken the task of trying to correct this,” Drilon said in a chance interview on Tuesday.

Senators also said that all resources needed should be given to Robredo to successfully address the country’s drug problem.

“I firmly believe that if Vice President Robredo is provided all the necessary powers and resources and given the full liberty to implement a public health approach coupled with a rights-based law enforcement strategy, she can do a much better job in responding to the drug problem,” Senator Risa Hontiveros said.

TokHang needed?

Despite wishing for Robredo’s success, Go said that the Vice President will not be tough against drug operators.

“We want you (Robredo) to succeed. Kailangan natin patayin ang mga drug lord, tutulungan ka namin, basta i-save natin ang mga inosente (We need to kill the drug lords, we will help you, as long as we save the innocent),” Go said.

Go maintained that without killing drug lords, the problem will still persist.

“Sa tingin ko parang gusto ata niya i-baby ang mga drug lord. Gusto niya ‘ata padamihin…Kung takot ka patayin, eh ‘di dadami ‘yan,” Go said.

(I think she wants to treat the drug lords like a baby. She probably wants them to increase in number. If she’s afraid to kill them, they will multiply.)

For Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, the architect of the drug war when he was the police chief, the Vice President should be open to implementing TokHang, which, according to him, was critical to the administration’s success.

“Kung maiwasan ang killings, iwasan. Pero how do you win? War nga ito. Kalaban natin mga sira ulo, armado. (If the killings can be avoided, then avoid them. But how do you win? This is a war. We’re fighting against crazed people who are armed),” Dela Rosa said.

The former top cop said that it would be a big setback to the war on drugs.

“Without TokHang, you cant have 1.3 million surrenderees,” Dela Rosa said.

“At malaking kabawasan ‘yun sa ating drug problem kahit konti lang ang nagpa-rehab but marami dun huminto. So malaking kawalan. (That is a big reduction to our drug problem even if only a few went to rehabilitation centers but a lot of them already stopped. So that’s a big setback),” he added.

Political motive?

For Senator Francis Pangilinan, delegating the anti-drug czar post to Robredo is an admission that the war on drugs led by the Duterte administration has failed. 

Pangilinan, the president of the Liberal Party that Robredo is part of, said the Vice President accepted the offer despite the possible political motive – making the opposition a scapegoat for the administration’s failure.

“Kahit alam ni VP Leni na maaaring patibong ito, tinanggap niya ang hamon. Mas matimbang sa kanya ang mga mahihirap nating kababayan na target ng madugong drug war,” Pangilinan said.

(Even if VP Leni knew that it could be a trap, she accepted the challenge. For her, our poor citizens who have been the target of the bloody drug war carry more weight.)

In a media interview, Go, without naming anyone, said that critics of the President’s offer should start believing otherwise. Apart from Pangilinan, Albay Representative Edcel Lagman also called the offer a “trap” for giving a “diluted” position that is not a Cabinet rank.

“Isa sa mga assistant mo (Robredo) na nagsasabi na trap ito. It’s not a trap. Kung wala ka, kapain mo muna kung wala kang bayag. Ma’am, kung walang bayag ang assistant mo, ibulong mo na lang sa amin. Kami na ang papatay sa drug lord kung ‘yun ang makakatulong,” Go said.

(One of your assistants is already saying that this is a trap. It’s not a trap. If you don’t have balls, check first if you have them. Ma’am, if your assistant doesn’t have balls, just whisper to us. We will kill the drug lords if it will help.)

President Rodrigo Duterte had offered the post to Robredo after the Vice President said in a Reuters interview that the President’s violent drug war needs to be “tweaked” because it is “not working.”

Robredo initially doubted the President’s offer, which appeared to be a way of passing on to her the responsibility over the anti-drug campaign, which Duterte has not successfully ended. –

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Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at