(NOVEMBER 19, 2019) – President Rodrigo Duterte has reneged on his decision to appoint the vice president to his Cabinet after she met with some U.S. embassy officials, the presidential spokesman said on Wednesday.
Salvador Panelo said it did not sit well with the president that Robredo had a meeting with American officials in her capacity as ICAD co-chair.
Duterte’s change of heart in his decision to make her part of the administration team was a complete turnaround from his previous statements.
“The Vice President talking with–and seeking the advice of–certain foreign institutions and personalities that have prejudged the campaign against illegal drugs as a violation of human rights, as well as a crime against humanity, did not sit well with the President,” Panelo said in a statement.
Robredo, the leader of the political opposition, had a “comprehensive” meeting with officials of various United States law enforcement agencies for a possible collaboration to fight the country’s drug menace.
The vice president’s persistent request for access to the list of high-value targets (HVT), a classified information, was also a factor in Duterte taking back the Cabinet post he had earlier offered.
Panelo added that Robredo’s insistence to access “state secrets” and data proves that her and the opposition’s criticisms on the war on drugs have “no factual basis.”
“These missteps not only derailed PRRD’s well-meaning intent for the Vice President to be part of the administration, but registered red signs that could not be ignored,” the spokesman said.
Her co-chairperson Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) chief Aaron Aquino said it is not part of Robredo’s mandate to access the list of HVTs, although he later said he could show her the list but only in a private meeting.
Philippine National Police (PNP) officer-in-charge Lt. Gen. Archie Gamboa also said he wanted Robredo to stay away from the law enforcement side of the drug war and instead leave it to relevant agencies.
“Being a member of the Cabinet gives Ms. Robredo unlimited access to sensitive State matters, which if transmitted by her whether purposely or otherwise could result to adverse consequences,” Panelo said, noting that the vice president has a tendency “to be generous with acquired information to others whose predilection may not be in the best interest of the country.”
Meanwhile, Robredo, in a separate interview, assured no sensitive information will be divulged should she be given access to the list of HVTs. She said she asked for access to keep track on how big-time drug personalities are being pursued by law enforcement forces. (Randell Ritumalta/MM)