Transmittal letter dated Oct. 31 and signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.

Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo is the new “drug czar” with full legal authority to pursue the government’s war against the illegal narcotics trade, Malacañan Palace announced on Tuesday.

The appointment follows Robredo’s call to review the drug war because of its “failure” to stop the drug trade, which was followed by a dare by President Rodrigo Duterte himself for the vice president to take over the job if she wanted to.

“Well, it means that she will be the drug czar. It means she can do everything within the law to enforce the war on drugs initiated by the President. We want her to accept the appointment,” Palace spokesman Salvador Panelo said in an interview aired over CNN Philippines.

“We want her to succeed, because her success will be the success of the Filipino people,” he added.

Malacañang released two documents as proof of Robredo’s appointment. But her official designation is co-chairperson of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs, which is led by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency under a March 2017 executive order.

A memorandum, signed by the president himself, ordered members of the committee to extend their “full assistance and cooperation” to Robredo, who will serve as co-chairperson and “lead the Government’s efforts against illegal drugs until 30 June 2022, unless sooner revoked.”

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea transmitted a letter of designation to the post, which he said was signed by the president, to Robredo.

Both documents were dated Oct. 31, but Panelo said the appointment “was signed by the President, I think, yesterday (Monday) – either yesterday when he arrived [from the Asean summit] or before he arrived or early this morning.”

Robredo, who was removed from the Duterte Cabinet months after she was given the housing portfolio over her opposition to the hero’s burial for the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, has yet to issue a statement on her new appointment.

On Monday, however, Robredo’s spokesman Barry Gutierrez claimed the offer was not serious as government officials wanted the vice president to fail.

Reacting to the appointment, opposition senator Francis Pangilinan said: “Salamat (Thanks) for the recognition that the deadly drug war has failed and that Leni Robredo is the legitimate Vice President of the Republic of the Philippines.”

Pangilinan was alluding to the effort by former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to overturn the result of the 2016 vice-presidential election through an electoral protest before the Supreme Court sitting  as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III said: “They will realize that the war on drugs cannot be stopped. It is a never-ending struggle…this is the only crime that can be called a complex crime.”

In a tweet, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said: “I strongly suggest that [Robredo] accept the ‘drug czar’ challenge. It will be a good opportunity for her and her team to use their alternative strategies to eliminate illegal drugs in the country.” (