Panelo: Robredo’s ‘missteps’ pushed Duterte to change mind on Cabinet post offer

Robie de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo’s actions – deemed as missteps – as the country’s co-chairperson of the government’s ant-illegal drug campaign has prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to decide against giving her a Cabinet post, Malacañang said Tuesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the president’s decision follows Robredo’s meetings with officials from the United Nations and the United States and other community-based advocacy groups after she accepted the appointment to co-lead the inter-agency committee on anti-illegal drugs (ICAD).

“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.

“The VP’s actions are all documented in mainstream and social media,” he added.

“These missteps not only derailed PRRD’s [President Rodrigo Roa Duterte] well-meaning intent for the Vice President to be part of the administration, but registered red signs that could not be ignored,” he further stated.

Panelo also said that Robredo’s request to get access to classified information on the government’s war on drugs, including the list of high-value targets, was a “revelation of which could imperil the welfare of the Filipino people and the security of the state.”

He said this added to the chief executive’s reconsideration of his earlier offer to give her a Cabinet post.

“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, especially since the VP has the tendency to be generous with acquired information and knowledge to others whose predilection may not be in the best interest of the country,” the Palace official said.

Duterte earlier clarified that Robredo is not a member of his Cabinet despite her designation as ICAD’s co-chair.

“I have not signed an appointment designating her as a cabinet,” the president said.

The president previously said he will appoint Robredo as a Cabinet member if she becomes anti-drug czar.

“I will swear her as a Cabinet member. First, balik siya so that she will have the authority. Eh alam mo ang Cabinet members are alter ego lang ng Presidente ‘yan. So kung may gawain ang Cabinet member, it is as if it is mine. So to make it legal, just a little fiat. Hindi na kailangan na mag-ano pa ako sa Congress. I will just make her the — a Cabinet member. Tapos, all drug cases and all things, matters in connection with drugs iyo na ‘yan hanggang katapusan ng term ko,” Duterte said in a media interview on Oct. 31.

The chief executive earlier threatened to fire Robredo as ICAD’s co-chair if she divulged confidential information on the government’s campaign against illegal drugs.

The vice president on Monday assured that no sensitive information will be disclosed.

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