Angry at criticism, Philippines’ Duterte dares vice president to take over law enforcement

The president has a frosty relationship with opposition leader Robredo, who was elected separately from Duterte. (File/Reuters)
Updated 28 October 2019

Angry at criticism, Philippines’ Duterte dares vice president to take over law enforcement

  • The vice president earlier said too many people had been killed in the crackdown, which had not solved the drugs problem
  • The comments have outraged Duterte, his aides and supporters

MANILA: Philippine leader Rodrigo Duterte on Monday lashed out at Vice President Leni Robredo for criticizing his war on drugs, and offered to put her in charge of law enforcement.
The president has a frosty relationship with opposition leader Robredo, who was elected separately from Duterte, whose drugs crackdown has killed thousands, stirring global alarm, although polls show strong domestic support for the campaign.
“I will surrender my powers to enforce the law,” Duterte said in remarks to newly-appointed government officials. “I will give it to the vice president for six months. I’ll let her carry it out, let us see what will happen. I will not interfere.”
It was not immediately clear if Duterte’s offer was meant sarcastically, although he said he would send a letter to Robredo, a former human rights lawyer.
A spokesman for Duterte did not immediately respond to a request from Reuters asking about the legal basis for such a transfer of authority.
The comments follow Robredo’s statements in an interview with Reuters, saying that too many people had been killed in the crackdown, which had not solved the drugs problem.
The comments have outraged Duterte, his aides and supporters. Robredo also urged access for the United Nations to investigate accusations of rights abuses over the crackdown, which Duterte’s administration has rejected as lies.
Later, Duterte told reporters Robredo could start the job anytime, perhaps as soon as Monday night.
“If she wants, I can commission her to be the drug czar,” Duterte said. “I’ll give her a clean slate, so she will know how easy it is to control drugs.”
Approached by Reuters for comment, Robredo’s office said the vice president had no statement on the matter yet.
In an interview with news channel ANC on Monday, Robredo stood by her criticism of Duterte’s policies.
“I can’t just sit back and look the other way,” she said. “If I see something wrong, I feel it’s my obligation to verbalize what I see, no matter how few we are.”
Philippine authorities reject activists’ allegations that drug dealers and users are being executed and say the more than 7,000 people killed by police had all resisted arrest.
Police say they have no connection to the mysterious murders of thousands more drug users.


In Bolivia desperate family leaves coffin in the street

Updated 04 July 2020

In Bolivia desperate family leaves coffin in the street

  • The Andean nation has reported 36,818 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 1,320 deaths

LA PAZ, Bolivia: The rising toll of COVID-19 deaths is overwhelming the Bolivian city of Cochabamba, where desperate relatives of one apparent victim of the new coronavirus left his coffin in the street for several hours on Saturday to protest difficulties in getting him buried.
Neighbor Remberto Arnez said the 62-year-old man had died on Sunday and his body had been in his home ever since, “but that’s risky because of the possible contagion.”
After a few hours, funeral workers showed up and took the coffin to a cemetery.
Police Col. Iván Rojas told a news conference that the city is collecting “about 17 bodies a day. This is collapsing the police personnel and funeral workers” in the city of some 630,000 people.
“The crematorium oven is small, that that is where the bodies are collecting,” said national Labor Minister Óscar Mercado, who told reporters that officials were preparing 250 new burial plots in the city’s main cemetery.
The Andean nation has reported 36,818 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 1,320 deaths.