MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo may have the position but not the trust of President Rodrigo Duterte.
This was the Chief Executive’s clarification during a sudden press briefing on Tuesday (November 19) at Malacañang.
The President also stressed that he couldn’t appoint Robredo as a member of his Cabinet because she is a member of the opposition and he does not know the Vice President personally.
“I cannot trust her not only because she is with the opposition. I do not trust her because I do not know her,” the President said.
“Hindi ko alam kung sino ang mga kausap niya noon, kung sinong mga pulitiko, kung sinong mga tao. Probably one of the biggest drug manufacturing apparatus was in Bicol,” he added.
Duterte clarified that he only appointed Robredo as drug czar and co-chair of the Interagency Committee for Anti-illegal Drugs (ICAD) and nothing beyond that.
The President also criticized Robredo’s recent public talks and engagements with critics of the administration.
“She invited even ang mga prosecutor ng Human Rights Commission which we rebuked. Bakit papupuntahin dito ang mga prosecutors and all? She was grandstanding na. It was like a carnival, she was talking right and left na,” he added.
“If that is the way her mouth behaves, there can never be a position for her,” the Chief Executive said. “If that is the way her mouth behaves […] scatterbrain eh.”
Robredo, in her first months as drug czar, requested for some classified information such as the list of high-value targets from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).
She even met with some representatives of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime as well as with several officials of the United States.
Despite this, President Duterte said he is not taking back Robredo’s position as he sees actions from the Vice President.
However, the President stressed the limits of her mandate as drug czar which include giving orders to ICAD and there is no need for her to join in law enforcement procedures.
He also emphasized that the Vice President need not know classified information in relation to the government’s anti-drug campaign.
“In the first place actually, what she should have done is to give the direction and the guidance, and of course instruct the law enforcement agencies to make it more transparent to her liking,” the President said.
“[She just] needs to know, that’s it. What is the — need to know to complete her… If she asks something, then you give her — you give her half of it. The other half, if it’s a classified information, there is no need for her to know,” President Duterte concluded. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)