Millennium Post

Duterte's foe accepts Philippine drug war post

Manila: A fierce critic of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's deadly anti-drug war accepted a top post on Wednesday to help steer the campaign, pledging to halt killings of the innocent.

While critics said the appointment is an effort to tarnish an adversary, the move will put Leni Robredo in the cockpit of the internationally condemned crackdown.

Duterte offered the post to Robredo, who is vice president but was elected separately, after her repeated criticism of a campaign that has killed thousands.

"I want to fix the campaign against illegal drugs, stop the killing of innocents and bring to account abusive officials," Robredo told a press conference. She will be the co-chair of a committee responsible for overseeing the crackdown, which was until now led by the national anti-drugs agency.

Duterte critics were sceptical of the appointment, with Senator Lila de Lima calling it a "silly trap".

The president wants to "create the narrative of putting all the blame of his failures on someone else", added De Lima, who is imprisoned on drug charges she says are politically motivated.

Opinion polls say the drug war has the overwhelming backing of Filipinos, yet it has high-profile critics among opposition politicians, the powerful Catholic church and advocacy groups.

Foreign institutions have also stepped in to question the killing, including International Criminal Court prosecutors who have launched a preliminary probe. Drug agents say they have killed just over 5,500 alleged dealers and users who fought back during arrest, but watchdogs say the true toll is at least four

times higher.

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