By Divina NJD Cruz /Manila Times
Despite criticisms from various quarters and President Rodrigo Duterte’s comment, “I distrust her,” Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo will not turn her back on her post as co-chairman of the Inter-Agency Committee Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD).
“While a lot of people were surprised that I accepted the post, I never — even for a moment — thought of turning my back on the opportunity to serve our country.After all, we women are truly made of sterner stuff than most people think. Don’t you think so?” Robredo said in her speech yesterday, on the third day of the First International Conference on Gender, Adult Literacy and Active Citizenship for Social Transformation.
She delivered her speech as a keynote speaker to delegates to the event organised by the University of Santo Tomas and the University of East Anglia of Norwich, United Kingdom.
“We, women, will not let anything stop us from giving a part of ourselves to our nation or to our generation when we are needed, no matter what or who tries to stop us,” Robredo said.
“These past two weeks, since I accepted the president’s challenge to lead the government’s efforts against illegal drugs, it has been this strength and determination that I learned as a woman that has allowed me to persevere, in the face of innumerable obstacles and difficulties, to say the least,” she added.
Pursuing her job later yesterday, she visited the Tahanan Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation Centre in Payatas, Quezon City and the Salam Compound in Barangay Culiat, also in Quezon City, and had consultations with the local leaders to get to know more about the best practices employed in the area that she said she could adopt in the government’s anti-illegal drug programme.
The Salam Compound had been known to be a notorious drug haven as the top 7 drug-affected barangay (villages) across the country.
Since the start of the “drug war” in 2016, hundreds of suspects had been arrested by the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) with 145 individuals seized in one of the operations.
In June 2017, the QCPD declared the area as a “drug-free” community.
“Here we studied factors that brought about the success of Barangay Culiat because we want to make it a model for other barangay that are similarly situated to what it was before, but to show that a turnaround is possible.
The lesson is, what we always say,’It takes a village,’” Robredo said after consultations with local leaders including Quezon City Vice Mayor Gian Carlo Sotto. She explained that in Culiat, the local government worked together with the police and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, which had a “harmonised” drugs watch list.
She also cited community-based efforts that included the church, organisations and private groups that helped out in the campaign through documentation, accountabilities and commitments that she said she wanted to adopt as best practices in other areas in the country as well.
Sen. Leila de Lima has questioned the Duterte administration’s refusal to share intelligence information on high value targets and described as “suspicious” the government’s motive behind the limitations imposed on Robredo.
“We see a lot of duplicity here.
What vicious political game is Duterte and his men playing this time?” de Lima said in a statement.
Albay First District Rep.
Edcel Lagman believed that “mistrust” in Robredo’s handling of confidential information was just an “alibi to pin failure” on Robredo.
“Why in the first place did Duterte appoint the vice president to lead the anti-narcotics campaign if he did not trust her? ” Lagman said in a statement.
Buhay Party-list Rep.
Lito Atienza believed that the president and the vice president must be elected in tandem to be more productive.
“Our current set up wherein the president and the vice president may belong to different political parties is really problematic, counterproductive and highly impractical,” Atienza said.
Malacanang also yesterday claimed that some members of the opposition wanted Robredo to fail as the government’s drug czar so she could be eliminated from the race for president in 2022.
Palace spokesman Salvador Panelo made the statement even as he said Robredo was free to leave her work in the administration’s narcotics crackdown if she was not comfortable with it.
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