Robredo: 2022 elections not a factor in accepting anti-drugs post

Mara Cepeda
Robredo: 2022 elections not a factor in accepting anti-drugs post


The Vice President says even her flagship anti-poverty program Angat Buhay will suffer if she already thinks about the next elections

RIZAL, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo said she did not factor in a possible presidential bid in 2022 when she agreed to be co-chairperson of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD). 

“Siguro kung inisip ko yong 2022, hindi ko to tatanggapin kasi too much of a risk,” Robredo told reporters in Tanay, Rizal, a day after she accepted President Rodrigo Duterte’s appointment of her as ICAD co-chair. (Perhaps if I had considered 2022, I wouldn’t have accepted this post because it’s too much of a risk.)

Robredo said her flagship anti-poverty program Angat Buhay would suffer if she would already think about the next elections. 

She was in Tanay to visit Sitio Macantog, the far-flung community of 60 families who received solar kits from Angat Buhay partner, One Meralco Foundation.

Pag inisip ko yong 2022, aakyat ba ako dito sa bundok ba kakaunti yong tao? Bakit ko sasayangin yong oras ko dito, na sobrang hirap umakyat, para lang makausap yong konting tao? Karamihan nga ata sa kanila hindi ako kilala!” Robredo said with a smile. 

(If I were thinking about 2022, would I go up this mountain where only a few people live? Why would I waste my time here, where it’s so hard to climb, just to talk to a few people? And I think most of them don’t even know me!) 

Robredo and her team took 3 hours to reach Sitio Macantog. The drive from her office in Quezon City to Tanay town proper already took two hours. The Vice President then hiked up the mountain in Barangay Tandang Kutyo, the trail steep and muddy, for an hour.

For the Vice President, the toughest part of her acceptance of the ICAD co-chair job was the fact that “almost all” of her advisers warned her against President Duterte’s offer. 

Yong pinakamahirap talaga dahil almost all nag-a-advise sa akin na wag kong tanggapin. Hindi ko [sila] mabe-blame kasi yong mistrust sa sincerity ng pag-alok sa akin, makikita naman natin yan sa statements ng mga napakalibot sa Pangulo,” said Robredo.  

(The hardest part was that almost all of those who advised me told me not to accept it. I couldn’t blame them because there’s mistrust in the sincerity of the way the job was offered to me. You could see that even in the statements made by those around the President.) 

The Vice President was initially wary of Duterte’s offer for her to lead the government’s anti-illegal drugs campaign, as he had done so out of spite after she said the drug war needs to be “tweaked” because it “was not working.”  

But on Wednesday, November 6, Robredo said she decided to accept the job if doing so would mean she has a chance to save innocent lives. 

The Vice President is set to meet with the 21-member agencies of ICAD on Friday, November 8, to get a briefing on how the anti-illegal drugs campaign is being run so far.  

The Vice President has long been a critic of Duterte’s bloody war on drugs, which has seen deaths of at least 5,526 drug personalities in legitimate police operations alone. Human rights organizations estimate the total death toll at more than 27,000, to include those killed vigilante-style. –

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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.