MANILA – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte named the leader of the opposition and vice-president of the country, Leni Robredo, head of his campaign against drugs on Tuesday, which has left more than 27,000 dead according to the United Nations – a number the government rejects.
Robredo – who has openly stood against Duterte’s war against drugs – has yet to accept the proposal after the presidential palace issued a statement signed on Oct. 31 naming her co-chairperson of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs.
If she agrees, Robredo – who heads the opposition and was elected vice president in the same election that won Duterte the presidency – would lead a number of government agencies deployed in the anti-drug campaign with Aaron Aquino, the president’s right-hand man.
The opposition leader could hold the post until June 30, 2022, when Duterte’s term ends.
In a statement, Duterte directed all agencies concerned to “extend their full assistance and cooperation to the Vice President to ensure the success of this Government’s efforts in the war against illegal drugs.”
The president’s offer comes after Rodrigo strongly criticized the measures taken by the government under the anti-drug campaign in a recent interview.
Duterte, nicknamed “The Punisher” due to his heavy-handed approach against crime and drug-trafficking, launched his war against drugs soon after winning the 2016 elections with the campaign promise of ending the trade in his country.
Philippine authorities have acknowledged 6,600 deaths in anti-drug raids and claim the campaign has led to more than 400,000 addicts seeking rehabilitation and the arrest of 193,000 people involved in the consumption and trafficking of narcotics.
Manila has repeatedly rejected the figure of 27,000 deaths – including extrajudicial executions by law enforcement officers and killings by neighborhood vigilantes – offered by the UN and nonprofit organizations.