NOVEMBER 20, 2019 – Vice President Leni Robredo on Wednesday shot back after the president had expressed doubts on her ability to handle sensitive and confidential information in the government’s campaign against illegal drugs.
In a statement, the top opposition leader said President Rodrigo Duterte should admit he made a mistake in appointing her as Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) co-chair and tell her directly to vacate her job.
“Dapat diretsuhin na lang ako, diretso naman akong kausap,” Robredo told reporters. “Kung ayaw niya ko dito in the first place, bakit ako in-appoint? “Kung ayaw niya na, kung nagkamali siya sa pag-appoint sa akin at gusto niyang bawiin, sabihin lang.”
On Tuesday night Duterte said he cannot trust her, criticizing her meetings with groups critical of the anti-illegal drugs war
But the popular leader said he will not fire her. Robredo will not hold a Cabinet position, he said, adding it will prevent her from accessing sensitive information.
Robredo said she will continue doing her job to improve the ongoing anti-narcotics campaign, saying the agencies under the ICAD have been cooperative.
“It is always worth working for something we believe in. Naniniwala akong maraming mako-contribute sa kampanya laban sa iligal na droga,” she said.
It doesn’t matter if the post is a Cabinet rank or not, she said. “Hindi ako pumipili ng kahit anong designation, kapag sinabi niyang ito lang trabahuin ko, ‘yun lang trabahuhin ko pero never akong umayaw sa trabaho,” she added.
At the Senate, Senator Panfilo Lacson said Duterte “obviously” wants Robredo out without firing her, judging by his statements.
“[M]eaning he is leaving up to her to take the initiative and tender her resignation. I’m sure the Vice President is now processing how to deal with the situation and should make her decision sooner than later,” the former national police chief said.
“Responsibility without commensurate authority is a guaranteed formula for failure,” he added.
Several critics earlier warned Robredo against accepting Duterte’s post offer, arguing she will be used as “scapegoat” for all the shortcomings of the Duterte administration in the drug war.
According to government data, the war on drugs has taken some 6,000 lives. Human rights groups estimate the deaths at 20,000, including those slain vigilante-style.
But Robredo still took the offer in a bid to end the “senseless killings” and save innocent lives. She also floated the idea of replacing the flagship anti-drug policy, which she criticized as “ineffective.” (Karen Macalalad/MM)