Some Filipinos believe that President Rodrigo Duterte’s challenge to Vice President Leni Robredo of solving the narcotics problem within six months is a mere “trap” given the circumstances and the absence of an actual written order.
Last Monday, the chief executive responded to Robredo’s remarks that the administration should review its strategies in its anti-illegal drugs campaign.
Duterte said that he will then entrust her “the power to enforce the law” in order to address the drug problem “for six months.”
“I am sending a letter to her through Executive Secretary (Salvador) Medialdea. I will surrender the power to enforce the law, I will give it to the Vice President, I will let her have it for six months,” he said before.
Robredo, for her part, remained mum on the challenge but said that it is more important to address the nation’s problems instead of insulting each other.
“Ako kasi, ayaw kong sagutin muna iyon kasi hindi ko alam kung gaano kaseryoso,” she said, as quoted by reports.
“Pero iyong sa akin lang, iyong mga mahahalaga at mga importanteng mga problema ng ating bansa, hindi naman dinadaan sa pagkapikon, hindi naman dinadaan sa pang-iinsulto. Mahirap na papatulan ko, kasi hahaba lang iyong usapan,” Robredo added.
Other reports also quoted her questioning Duterte’s remarks, where she said, “Kung walang failure, bakit ipapasa sa akin? ‘Di ba? Kasi ipapasa mo lang ang isang bagay kapag hindi mo na kayang gawin.”
For Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, the Liberal Party president, Robredo should be given “three years” instead of six months to solve the narcotics problem.
“Three years na nilang hawak ang law enforcement so dapat lang three years din ang ibigay na oras para fair!” he said.
Why it could be a ‘trap’
For other Filipinos, however, Duterte’s challenge to Robredo, who is an opposition leader, appeared to be a “trap” as they pointed out present circumstances.
“Trap talaga ‘to lalo na’t na kay PDuts (President Duterte) pa rin loyalty ng mga police at ng iba pang korap na opisyal,” a Twitter user wrote.
“It’s a trap! How can a VP (vice-president) with limited powers solve (the) drug problems in 6 months when du30 (Duterte) with full power over PNP, AFP, Congress and judiciary, failed to do so for 3 years now?!” another Twitter user commented.
It could be noted that several of Duterte’s allies currently dominate the Congress — both the upper and the lower chamber — in what reports describe as the “supermajority.”
Only four out of 24 senators are in the opposition, namely Senators Francis Pangilinan, Risa Hontiveros, Leila de Lima and Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon.
PNP and AFP heads are also appointed by Duterte.
Furthermore, Duterte ordered Robredo to refrain from attending Cabinet meetings composed of heads of executive departments and officials who serve as his advisors.
Another Filipino said that it appeared to be the chief executive’s way of “passing on the accountability” that comes with initiating the anti-narcotics campaign himself.
“Eh ‘di ba siya naman ‘yung nangako ng 3-6 months? Bakit si Leni ang tutupad?” she wrote on the microblogging platform.
For lawyer Jesus Falcis, it was “obviously” a trap as he pointed out some legal ways on how Duterte can transfer his law enforcement powers on the vice-president.
The chief executive can fulfill it, he claimed, if he goes on a “temporary (medical) leave and appoint VP Leni as the OIC (officer-in-charge) of the whole government.”
Falcis added that Duterte can also “appoint Leni as the DILG (Department of Interior and Local Government) Secretary.”
DILG is the government agency that has administrative supervision over the Philippine National Police, the main agency tasked to implement Duterte’s anti-narcotics policy.
Here are the different legal ways for President Duterte to give law enforcement powers to Vice President Leni…
Falcis also claimed that “political strategists within the Duterete administration” are only seemingly setting up Robredo “to fail” so that she could be “blamed and made scapegoat again” come the next elections.
“So, unless Duterte resigns OR takes a medical leave and allows Leni to act as the Acting President for the rest of his term, then this new challenge is just a bait or bluff,” he concluded.
For Duterte to formally hand over his law enforcement powers to Robredo, it has to be executed through a written order which would define the extent of authority he intends to give.
Retired Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio said that while the chief executive has the authority to delegate his powers, its extent remains unknown, which includes consideration of people or agencies to be placed under Robredo.
“t’s [a] very broad proposal and it’s very difficult to define what kind of work the person to whom it is delegated will do,” he said, as quoted by reports.
According to the 1987 Constitution, the president can transmit his powers to the vice-president through a written order addressed to the Senate president and the House speaker. — Artwork by Uela Altar-Badayos