MANILA (Reuters) – The vice president of the Philippines on Wednesday accepted President Rodrigo Duterte’s offer of a lead role in his brutal war on drugs, even though she expected her political rival’s administration would try to thwart her progress.
The appointment follows criticism by Leni Robredo in an interview with Reuters and subsequent media appearances, which angered Duterte, whose drugs crackdown has killed thousands and prompted activists to call for international intervention.
Allies had warned Robredo, who was elected separately and has an adversarial relationship with Duterte, that the offer of “drugs tsar”, or a joint chair of a panel on illegal drugs, was a trap to ensure her embarrassment and failure.
She said she was sceptical about Duterte’s motives, but would take a chance.
“I am against the killings of the innocent, I am against abuses committed by officials. He knows my criticism. He knows what I plan to fix,” Robredo told a news conference.
“If the president is thinking that I will keep quiet because I accepted the offer, he is wrong.”
Duterte’s loyalists had urged her to take the role, saying she had plenty of criticism and should put her ideas into practice.
Ronald dela Rosa, a policeman turned senator and former drugs war commander, said Robredo had a chance to impress.