Vice President Leni Robredo is free to leave her post as the anti-drug czar of the administration if she no longer wants the role, Malacañang said Friday.
The statement came after Robredo said President Rodrigo Duterte should just tell her if he wanted to revoke her appointment as co-chair of the Inter-agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) after saying that he could not trust her with a Cabinet position and confidential information on the drug menace.
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“Just like accepting a position, resigning from it solely depends upon the person, and not with the appointing power. If one is not comfortable with it, or cannot stand the heat in the kitchen, the honorable thing to do is to leave the post quietly,” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said.
The Palace official said “it may not be civil nor ethical” for Robredo to tell the President what he should do.
“Such taunting and daring only make it appear that President Duterte owes her for appointing her as anti-illegal drug czar. It is the other way around,” Panelo said.
“Without her knowing it, she may be displaying her lack of care about the work assigned to her, or she may be showing disrespect to the President,” he added.
Robredo was appointed by the President last month after she said in an interview that the anti-drug campaign should be evaluated since it was “not working.”
Her appointment as ICAD co-chair is effective until 2022 unless the President revokes it.
Malacañang initially announced that Robredo, given her role in the administration’s war on drugs, would sit as a Cabinet member.
However, the President said on Tuesday that Robredo’s actions—or “missteps” in her first two weeks as ICAD co-chair did not sit well with him, and said he could not trust her.
READ: ‘Missteps’ cost Leni rank
He said he was annoyed by Robredo’s insistence on getting classified information on high-value drug targets, and talking with “enemies of the state” or people critical of the administration’s anti-drug campaign.
“Those red flags did not inspire confidence on her person, which the Chief Executive could not just brush off,” Panelo said.
Despite Duterte’s public pronouncement of his lack of trust, Robredo assured him that she would continue her work in the ICAD even without a Cabinet-rank post.
“It’s not my problem if they haven’t agreed on my role yet. For me, what I can do, I will do,” Robredo said Tuesday.
Robredo had written to Duterte seeking clarification of her mandate as ICAD co-chair but the President has yet to respond.
Meanwhile, Robredo has been visiting drug-infected barangays and asked for their cooperation to get rid of illegal drugs in their areas.
In related developments:
• An opposition legislator from the Bicol region on Friday called for more funding for ICAD. Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said the inadequate funding will hamper the work of Robredo.
• The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency on Friday said a total of 496 barangays in Metro Manila have already been declared as drug-cleared. According to the PDEA-National Capital Region, it was able to surpass the target of clearing 491 villages in Metro Manila. As of Oct. 31, 398 villages are already declared as drug-cleared. Out of the 100 barangays that applied for the drug-clearing program this month, 98 of them have been declared as drug-cleared, the agency said.
• Robredo on Friday met with Quezon City Vice Mayor Gian Sotto to know more about the city’s drug situation and identify the interventions that have been initiated to address the problem of illegal drugs. Along with Sotto, the Quezon City Anti-Drug Abuse Advisory Council head, and Rep. Christopher Belmonte, the Vice President proceeded to the Salam compound in Barangay Culiat, considered one of the top seven villages with the highest incidence of drug cases. She met with Sultan Hadji Nur Hassan, chairman of Salam compound, a Muslim community.
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