Vice President Leni Robredo on Wednesday urged President Rodrigo Duterte to simply let her know if he no longer wants her to co-chair the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs after he said he could not even trust her.
“If he does not want me here, just tell me directly. I am easy to talk to. If he thinks that he has erred in appointing me and wanted to revoke it, just say so,” Robredo said.
She said she wrote the President to clarify her mandate as ICAD co-chairperson.
She said she was surprised that the President would say he did not trust her enough to join Cabinet meetings.
“I really do not understand,” she said.
These statements notwithstanding, she said she would still be willing to work wholeheartedly.
“I believe I can contribute something to the campaign against illegal drugs,” she said. “I never turn my back on the kind of work that is given to me whether it be big or small.”
She also said she had no intention of usurping the mandates of the other ICAD members.
On Wednesday, the Vice President met with Dangerous Drugs Board chairman Catalino Cuy at the DDB headquarters in Quezon City to harmonize efforts of ICAD.
She declined, however, to attend the scheduled classified briefing with the chief of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, Aaron Aquino.
“I refused because I wanted first to wait for the response of the President about my clarification of the limits of my mandate,” she said.
Earlier, Robredo met with representatives of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, United States Embassy and other foreign organizations in connection with her role as ICAD co-chairperson.
The President said Robredo invited a UN prosecutor to come to the Philippines to end the campaign against drugs.
“I do not know any UN prosecutor. I have not written anyone. I have not invited anyone. If such information has reached him that I have invited someone, that’s fake news. And I hope the President would not just believe in fake news,” Robredo said.
Duterte on Tuesday threatened to slap a human rights advocate in front of Robredo if she brought him to the Philippines.
The President appeared to have been incensed over a Nov. 11 tweet by Phelim Kine, formerly of Human Rights Watch who had told Robredo: “My bags are packed and I’m ready to come to the #Philippines to help advise how to end this murderous ‘drug war.’”
“Meanwhile here is my Recommendation No. 1: Arrest #Duterte and his henchmen for inciting & instigating mass murder,” Kine said in the same tweet.
In a late-night press conference on Tuesday, Duterte railed against the vice president.
“I dare you if you are that dedicated, bring that person here. I will slap him in front of you,” he said in Filipino.
Earlier, Duterte also said he could not trust Robredo with a Cabinet position and confidential information about the drug trade because she is part of the opposition and would likely “jeopardize” state secrets.
READ: ‘Missteps’ cost Leni rank
This ran counter to his original offer for her to join ICAD as its co-chairperson with Cabinet rank.
“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.
The President said he disliked it that Robredo had talked with groups and individuals critical of the government’s campaign against illegal drugs.
“Right after she was appointed, she began talking publicly about inviting the Human Rights Commission. She was talking to the United Nations. She wants to talk to the European...and she said so many things. If that’s the case, I said, I cannot appoint her as a Cabinet member,” Duterte said.
“She’s with the opposition and she would be attending Cabinet meetings. In that (sic) Cabinet meetings, we discuss mundane matters, we discuss day-to-day matters, we discuss security matters, we discuss critical issues. If she was there, I don’t really know her and the way she behaved right after I appointed her does not inspire...it’s not inspiring,” he added.
Duterte also accused Robredo of “grandstanding” and called her a “scatterbrain” for talking to different government agencies, local stakeholders, and international partners as anti-drug czar.
“If that is the way her mouth behaves, that is the way...scatterbrain,” Duterte said.
“She was grandstanding. It was, it was like a carnival after. She was talking right and left,” he added.
Duterte said he is not firing Robredo, but merely setting the “parameters” of her tasks in the ICAD.
Former Benigno Aquino III took a dig at the President for appointing Robredo as ICAD co-chairperson if he really did not trust her.
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