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‘Missteps’ cost Leni rank

Duterte: VP just ‘need to know’, don’t have to fire her from ICAD

President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday night said he had ordered government agencies to restrict Vice President Leni Robredo’s access to confidential information on the illegal drug menace, saying she just “needs to know.”

‘Missteps’ cost Leni rank
ON THE GEAR. Vice President Leni Robredo visits the Interior department Tuesday to discuss with officials their efforts in the campaign against illegal drugs. She was briefed by the DILG and the Philippine National Police on their respective anti-drug strategies. Robredo emphasized the importance of the roles of the DILG and PNP in both drug supply and demand reduction. OVP
In a late-night press conference, Duterte said he “did not need to fire” Robredo from the Inter-Agency Committee Against Illegal Drugs
(ICAD), but also did not want to appoint her back into the Cabinet since she would “jeopardize” state secrets -- and said he does not trust her.

READ: Rody to Leni: Leak data, you're fired

Instead, the President said Robredo could only provide guidance to the 21-member ICAD that she has been tasked to lead.

“You can give the directions, you can give the guidance. But you do not have to go there and waggle inside the law enforcement process,” Duterte said.

Speaking to Palace reporters, Duterte also accused Robredo of “grandstanding” and called her a “scatterbrain” for talking to different government agencies, local stakeholders, and international partners in a bid to make the government approach against narcotics more humane.

“Right after she was appointed, she began talking publicly about inviting human rights commission, wants to talk to the United Nations, European groups. And she is saying a lot of things. If that’s the case, I cannot appoint her as a Cabinet member if that is the way her mouth behaves,” Duterte said.

“We discuss critical issues [during Cabinet meetings]. If she is there, I don’t know her, and the way she behaves after I appoint her, it’s not inspiring. I was afraid,” he added.

Duterte appointed Robredo as ICAD co-chair on Oct. 31, a post which she accepted on Nov. 6.

Robredo had been critical of Duterte’s flagship campaign that has killed more than 5,000 drug suspects, according to government data, and internationally condemned by human rights groups.

Earlier, Malacanang said Robredo has committed “missteps” in her first two weeks as the anti-drug czar that did not sit well with the President, prompting him not to appoint her to a Cabinet position.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said Duterte’s disinclination to appoint Robredo back in the Cabinet was due to her insistence on getting classified information and talking with “enemies of the state” or personalities critical of the administration’s anti-drug campaign.

Still, Robredo questioned the President for appointing her as the co-chairperson of the ICAD if he does not trust her.

“If they (ICAD members) would deprive me of the information, that would be up to them. As far as I am concerned, when I accepted the job wholeheartedly, I will give my best,” she said in an event in Navotas City.

“It’s not my problem if they haven’t agreed on my role yet. For me, what I can do, I will do. They said it was sincere. But sincerity is not said, it is being done,” Robredo said, indicating that officials’ actions following her appointment to the ICAD leadership showed a lack of sincerity.

The Vice President reiterated she accepted the offer of the President so that she could save lives, seek justice to those who died in the war against drugs, and hold those behind these deaths culpable.

Panelo also said the Chief Executive has reservations on trusting her with classified information on the drug menace, despite being the co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee Against 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.

Robredo’s “insistence on getting access to classified information,” added to President Duterte’s reconsideration to appoint her in the Cabinet, Panelo said.

Panelo said these “missteps” registered “red signs that could not be ignored” and derailed President Duterte’s intent for the Vice President to be part of the administration.

The Palace official also said Robredo 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.”

Robredo previously met with the Austria-based United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Catholics Bishops Conference of the Philippines, an influential group of Church leaders who have been criticizing drug-related deaths.

Panelo claimed, “even the prosecutor of the rejected Rome Statute ICC that has no jurisdiction over the country” has been welcomed by Robredo.

The Vice President, who also leads the opposition Liberal Party, has already said she would prefer that the country to first try to solve its problems internally before inviting international investigators to come in.

Duterte’s spokesman, however, said the Vice President could still do her job as the anti-drug czar even without acquiring classified information.

“If you have many ideas to solve the drug problem, even if I don’t trust you giving classified, secret [information], I will listen to you,” he said.

“It has nothing to do with trust. It has something to do with the effectiveness of your ideas,” Panelo added.

He also said Robredo has not yet laid out her plans on how she will resolve the drug menace until her term expires in 2022.

Duterte appointed Robredo as co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD).

Robredo had been critical of Duterte’s flagship campaign that has killed more than 5,000 drug suspects, according to government data, and internationally condemned by human rights groups.

Some have been claiming the fatalities of the crackdown on narcotics could reach as high as 20,000.

Robredo on Tuesday met with the officials of the Department of the Interior and Local Government to seek the involvement of the local government units in their efforts to fight illegal drugs.

Senator Panfilo Lacson, meanwhile, said Robredo, as co-chair of the ICAD, should be given a copy of the major drug suspects.

READ: Drug list for Leni’s eyes only—PNP

“That’s basic information,” said Lacson.

“She does not know those in the HVT list, how could she proceed in the first place?” Lacson said.

“I think she’s saying all the right things and doing all the right things because the first thing she did was meet with members of the ICAD. And there are 20 agencies,” said Lacson. With Rio N. Araja and Macon Ramos-Araneta

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Topics: Leni Robredo , anti-drug czar , Rodrigo Duterte , Salvador Panelo ,
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