President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said he is willing to give Vice President Leni Robredo six months to take over his administration’s aggressive crackdown on illegal drugs.
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Duterte said he has asked Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea to send Robredo a letter which indicates that he is willing to “surrender” his powers to let Robredo take charge of the anti-illegal drugs campaign.
“I’m sending a letter to her through Secretary Medialdea. I will surrender my powers to enforce the law. Ibigay ko sa Vice President (I will give it to the Vice President),” Duterte said in a speech during the oath-taking ceremony of newly-appointed government officials.
“Ibigay ko sa kanya mga six months. Siya ang magdala. Tingnan natin kung ano ang mangyari. Hindi ako makialam. Sige, gusto mo? Mas bright ka? Sige. Ikaw. Subukan mo (I’ll give it to her for six months. She takes charge. Let’s see what happens. I won’t interfere. You want it? You’re brighter than me? You, try it for yourself),” he added.
However, in a chance interview after his speech, Duterte clarified that he meant that he could commission Robredo as drug czar and let her take over “all anti-drug activities” of government.
“I do not surrender anything. I said if she wants, I can commission her to be the drug czar,” Duterte told reporters.
Duterte said he decided to let Robredo take over following her recent statement in a Reuters interview about the “failed drug war” which “targeted the poor rather than big drug networks”.
“Ngayon mas marunong ka man sa akin (Now, if you know how to do it better than me) I’ll hand in to you full powers sa (on) drugs. I’ll give you six months. Tingnan natin kung kaya mo (Let’s see if you can do it),” Duterte said.
The President said he wanted to give Robredo a “clean slate” so that she could prove that she could do a better job in cracking down on the illegal drug trade.
“Sinabi ko sa kanya (I told her that) I’m ready to give you, to concede to you powers that would cover all anti-drug activities by the government,” Duterte said.
Duterte said even if Robredo would decline his offer, he would not ask her to stop criticizing his handling of the anti-drug campaign.
“This a democracy. Nobody but nobody can order anybody to shut up,” Duterte said.
Earlier, Robredo clarified that she did not want the drug war to stop but merely wanted it “reassessed” given the rising number of drug-related deaths in the country. (PNA)