MANILA – The vice president of the Philippines accepted on Wednesday her appointment as co-chairperson of an inter-agency body on illegal drugs, a position offered by President Rodrigo Duterte.
Leni Robredo has previously criticized the war on drugs initiated by Duterte.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Robredo – who is also the leader of the opposition – said that she was ready for the job if it meant she could save at least one life.
In the Philippines, the positions of the president and vice president are voted separately and may belong to different parties.
Robredo has criticized human rights violations and violence during the anti-drug campaign, which has left 30,000 dead, according to civil organizations.
These figures are backed by the United Nations, although the police and the government have said that 6,700 suspects have been killed in shootouts and claimed that all of them had resisted arrest.
In a recent interview, Robredo had reiterated that Duterte’s war on drugs was failing.
Duterte responded to her allegation with a challenge to accept the post to see if she could handle it better.
The Philippine government on Tuesday announced that Duterte had issued an Executive Order on 31 October to appoint her as co-chairperson of the inter-agency body on anti-illegal drugs along with Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director General Aaron Aquino.
Opposition leaders criticized Duterte’s offer and called the challenge thrown at Robredo a poisoned chalice that seeks to solve a problem that he has not been able to fix in the last three years.
The vice-president’s spokesperson on Tuesday said that she would not accept the appointment because the president was trying to use her as a “scapegoat.”
The appointment authorizes Robredo with absolute control over the national strategy against drugs, which includes the power to discontinue the controversial campaign, known in the Philippines as “Oplan Tokhang.”
The move also means Robredo will form a part of Duterte’s cabinet two years after she resigned as the head of Housing and Urban Development due to political disagreements with the president.
Since then, Robredo, the leader of the Liberal Party, has risen to become one of the strongest critics of Duterte.