Malacañang on Friday scored Vice President Leni Robredo for “daring” President Rodrigo Duterte to declare outright that he wanted her out as the government’s anti-drug czar.
Duterte’s spokesperson Salvador Panelo told reporters that Robredo’s pronouncement was disrespectful of the President who appointed her to the post of co-chairperson of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD).
“It may not be civil nor ethical for VP Leni to taunt or dare the President in demanding the latter to tell her that he does not want her for the job she was appointed to or that he wants her to resign from her current post,” Panelo said.
“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. 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.”
Saying he was speaking in general terms, Panelo said resigning from a position 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,” he said.
But the Vice President clarified that she never quits from jobs assigned to her, no matter how big or small.
Duterte said on Tuesday he did not give Robredo a Cabinet post because he could not trust her with confidential information.
The source of his mistrust was the Vice President’s alleged communications with foreign institutions and personalities that had allegedly prejudged the drugs campaign, as well as her membership in the opposition.
“If she is smarting from the remarks of President Duterte of not trusting her to have access to classified information, she has only herself to blame,” Panelo argued.
Panelo also said that Duterte would only have fired her if she disclosed classified information that “imperils the safety and general welfare of the Filipino people.”
The Palace official added Robredo had consulted several groups without first inquiring with the President about the scope of her authority. The Vice President said she already written the President about this.
“Worse, she has been listening to the advice on how to run her new post by some of her colleagues in the opposition who are eyeing the presidency in 2022 and who obviously want her to fail in her new job this early, to eliminate her from the race,” Panelo said.
Panelo said that Robredo would be better off if she chose to be her own person “as when she accepted the position of anti-drug czar against the unanimous advice of opposition stalwarts.”
“This time, however, she opted to heed the advice of those presently surrounding her whose political motivations are glaring, to which VP Leni seems to be oblivious of,” he said.
No need to see list
Meanwhile, House Committee on Dangerous Drugs chair Robert Ace Barbers on Friday opposed giving Robredo a list of high-value targets in anti-drugs operations.
“It’s not necessary na mahawakan niya yon kasi policy-making body ang ICAD,“ Barbers said.
“There’s no need for her to know sino ang nasa listahan. This is highly classified information,” he added.
Barbers also clarified that the House of Representatives has not yet invited Robredo to appear before his committee.
“Wala pa kaming invitation sa kanya kasi wala pa naman siyang sinasabing bagong strategy or programs,” he explained.
“If may bago, we will ask her to come or we can go to her to discuss,” Barbers added. —With a report from Tina Panganiban-Perez/ DVM/LDF, GMA News