Robredo: Why did Duterte appoint me if he doesn’t trust me?

By Xave Gregorio, CNN Philippines

Vice President Leni Robredo questioned again the sincerity of her appointment as co-chair of the Inter-agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD), this time wondering why she was even designated to the post if President Rodrigo Duterte does not trust her.

“Kung wala silang tawala, bakit nila ako dinesignate?” she told reporters Tuesday.

[Translation: If they don’t trust me, why did they designate me?]

Her statement comes amid resistance from the Duterte administration, including her fellow ICAD members, over her request for access to a list of high-value drug targets. Officials have said that the list should only be provided on a “need to know” basis and that they have fears that the Vice President will leak information to “enemies of the state.”

Malacañang also backtracked Tuesday on a previous pronouncement that Robredo’s new appointment is a Cabinet-level post, saying that Duterte shied away from promoting the Vice President due to her “missteps” — her meeting with the United Nations and her request to receive classified information.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said her request and her appointment to the Cabinet may put the country’s security at risk because she might leak information to critics.

Robredo on Monday assured Duterte that she will not divulge classified drug war information with the United Nations and other foreign agencies critical of the administration.

She has also argued that it is part of her mandate as ICAD co-chair to get access to this data as she has to ensure the arrest of high-value targets.

The executive order that created the ICAD does not provide for a co-chair post, but does state that among the committee’s duties is to “ensure the … arrest of high-value drug personalities down to the street-level peddlers and users.”

Speaking to reporters, Robredo said she will try her best to obtain a list of high-value targets, but acknowledged that this is ultimately up to law enforcement authorities if they would want to give her a copy.

“Hindi ako magsasayang ng oras para makipagaway, hindi ako magsasayang para, again, makipagpaligsahan. Basta ako, ang ginagawa ko ngayon gagawin ko. Hindi ko na problema kung may mga ayaw silang ibigay. Basta ako, we’ll work with whatever is given to me,” she said.

[Translation: I won’t waste time fighting, I won’t waste time to engage in intramurals. It’s no longer my problem if they have something that they don’t want to give. I’ll just work with whatever is given to me.]

‘Talk to Duterte’

She added that if any of her fellow members in the Inter-agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) have a problem with her appointment as its co-chair, they should take it up with President Rodrigo Duterte, who put her at that post in the first place.

Kung mayroon mang resentment sa aking appointment as co-chair, palagay ko hindi ‘yun dapat sa akin i-raise, kasi hindi ko naman hiningi itong posisyon na ito. Tingin ko kailangan ‘yun i-raise sa Pangulo kasi siya naman makakapagsabi kung ano ‘yung intent ng pag-designate sa akin na co-chair,” Robredo told reporters Tuesday.

[Translation: If there’s any resentment in my appointment as co-chair, I think that shouldn’t be raised with me because I didn’t ask for this position. I think that should be raised with the President because he’s the one who would be able to say what his intention was in designating me as co-chair.]

Robredo was in the Cabinet as Housing Secretary in the early days of the Duterte administration, but resigned after she was barred from attending meetings.

But even outside of the Cabinet, the Vice President still has access to matters affecting national security as she is part of the National Security Council.

Duterte designated Robredo as co-chair of the ICAD after she declared that his administration’s flagship program — the war on drugs — is a failure. He said since Robredo appears to have a lot of solutions, she should try implementing them.

Robredo accepted the position despite being told by her daughters and the opposition not to. She, however, remained cautious, acknowledging that she might encounter difficulty in her new position.

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