Tuesday, 26 October 2021

Duterte’s fierce rival stripped of ‘drug czar’ post

MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has sacked “drug czar” Leni Robredo, just weeks after her appointment. Duterte’s spokesman cited a number of reasons for her removal, including the lack of trust.

Ms Robredo, the country’s vice-president, is an outspoken critic of Mr Duterte’s controversial war on drugs. After being appointed, she said she was sceptical about the president’s motives but wanted to seize the chance to “fix the campaign against illegal drugs”.

After taking her post as co-chair of the country’s Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) earlier this month, she had pledged to use her powers to stop the killing of innocent people and hold authorities to account.

Ms Robredo – who is seen as Mr Duterte’s main political rival – is yet to publicly comment on her firing.

After his election in 2016, President Duterte launched a hard-line campaign against “illegal drug personalities,” claiming that the Philippines had become a “narco-state”.

The president called on members of the public to kill drug addicts and dealers, and said he would offer a bounty to police for killing suspected users and sellers of narcotics. Since the campaign began, at least 6,600 dealers or users have been killed, according to police, but some activists have put this figure closer to 27,000.

Human rights groups allege that many of the killings amount to summary executions. Both the UN and the International Criminal Court are examining allegations of extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests and enforced disappearances. But Mr Duterte and his anti-narcotics campaign enjoy wide public support.

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