MANILA, Philippines – “Trust is earned.”
This was Malacañang’s response to Vice President Leni Robredo and her ally, former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino after they questioned President Rodrigo Duterte’s lack of trust in the vice president despite her appointment as co-chairperson of the inter-agency committee on anti-illegal drugs (ICAD).
In a statement issued on Thursday, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said that Robredo must “understand that one’s election to the Vice Presidency does not automatically clothe the occupant with trustworthiness.”
“Trust is earned. The missteps of the VP did not inspire confidence in the matter of keeping to oneself classified information,” he said.
“Her job in leading the agencies involved in the anti-illegal drug campaign requires competence and creativity. Trust comes into play only as regards the non-transmission of state secrets that imperils the safety of the Filipino people and the sovereignty of the country,” he added.
Panelo also said that the president’s expressed remark should not stop Robredo from performing her new task.
“Since she will not be given access to privileged communication, she should not be bothered by the expressed lack of trust by the appointing power with respect to the confidentiality of state matters requiring secrecy,” he said.
“After all, she is tasked to help end the illegal drug trade in the country and not to get secret information of the government to share the same with her foreign and local peers,” he added.
The Palace official also reiterated that despite her being a member of a political opposition group, she was still given the job to co-lead the government anti-drug body to help address the country’s drug problem instead of “endlessly voicing criticisms.”
“Her designation is a call of duty coming from the Chief Executive to end the illegal drug trade in the country, a rare chance given to her, despite her being in the opposition, to help in the campaign against illegal drugs, instead of being a rambunctious critic who cannot see anything good on the war on drugs initiated by this administration,” he said.
Panelo also asked Aquino to focus on his case still pending before the Sandiganbayan, as well as taking care of his health, instead of “touching on a matter related to the dreaded drug menace that he never gave the attention and importance it deserves during his six-year presidency.”
The Palace official earlier claimed that the country’s drug problem “ballooned in magnitude” due to neglect during Aquino’s presidency. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Harlene Delgado)