President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday has fired Vice President Leni Robredo as the co-chairperson of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD), Malacañang confirmed.
Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea confirmed the news through a text message sent to Malacanang Press Corps.
Later, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo released a statement, disclosing that the President removed Robredo from her drug czar post “in response” to Liberal Party President and Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan’s suggestion to just fire her from the said post instead of insulting her.
“This is also in response to the taunt and dare of VP Robredo for the President to just tell her that he wants her out,” he added.
Panelo said Robredo’s designation as ICAD co-chair was an “offer” to improve the country’s anti-illegal drug campaign.
“Unfortunately, she wasted such opportunity and used the same as a platform to attack the methods undertaken by this Administration,” he commented.
Two-week ICAD co-chair
On October 31, Duterte signed the appointment paper of Robredo, and in two weeks’ time, he backtracked his decision.
Also, Robredro’s dismissal came just a day after the President expressed his apology for assuming that the former had requested the United Nations officials to investigate his anti-narcotics campaign.
However, Panelo said Duterte did not apologize, clarifying that the Vice President’s discharge was his order.
“I am firing her right now…sabi niya hindi apology yan. Sorry lang kung false news yan,” he said, quoting Duterte.
Within two weeks of being ICAD co-chair, Robredo has met with officials from the United States embassy and the United Nations, whom she negotiated with for possible partnerships. She also sat with several local and national government organizations, members of the private sectors, as well as with religious groups to seek advice on how to continue with the campaign.
However, Panelo attacked Robredo for meeting the US and UN officials who, according to him, “remain out-of-touch from the realities of the local drug problem on the ground.”
The international bodies have previously criticized the present administration’s fight against illegal drugs.
Panelo’s response to Robredo’s claim of unclear duties
Meanwhile, as for Robredo camp’s claim of unclear duties as ICAD co-chair, Panelo said “the Vice President [has] ample authority and powers to direct all responsible government instrumentalities to act in accordance with the strategic objectives that she might have had in mind, in line with putting an end to the drug menace in our country.”
“Further, given the transparency of her motive to politicize the issue, the intention of the Vice President to seek access to confidential law enforcement information can not be given the benefit of the doubt as being free from malice or manipulation,” the spokesman added.
Moreover, despite giving her the drug czar post, Duterte said he does not trust Robredo. He said he has reservations on sharing state secrets with her, although he believes that she will be able to help the country.
In the meantime, Robredo has to issue her statement yet.