Duterte fires Robredo as ICAD co-chair
President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday fired Vice President Leni Robredo as the co-chairperson of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) after more than two weeks since she accepted the post as the "anti-illegal drug czar."
“The Palace is announcing the termination of the services of Vice President Ma. Leonor Robredo as Co-Chairperson of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD),” Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.
“The President has been more than patient enough, giving the Vice President adequate opportunity to discuss possible courses of action with him. More than two weeks have passed since the Vice President accepted her designation as ICAD-Chairperson. But she has not presented any new program that she envisioned to implement. In a campaign where people’s lives are at risk, a day is an eternity,” he said.
Panelo said the government cannot twiddle its thumb and sit idly hoping for a flash of brilliance from the Vice President.
He also said dismissing Robredo from ICAD was Malacanang’s response to the suggestion of Liberal Party President, Senator Francis Pangilinan, to just fire the Vice President from her post and also to the latter's taunt and dare for the President to just tell her that he wants her out.
Robredo, who co-chaired ICAD with Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director General Aaron Aquino, was removed a day after Duterte said he has yet to see her work. The President also earlier said that he did not trust Robredo despite appointing her as anti-drug czar.
The presidential spokesperson said Duterte’s designation of Robredo was not like any offer to perform a certain task.
“It was an offer to make the campaign against illegal drugs better - a chance where both this Administration and the political opposition could have unified in fighting the social ill that has destroyed the lives of many and imperilled thousands others, in addition to creating a multitude of dysfunctional families and threatening the present and the next generation to useless existence,” he said.
“Unfortunately, she wasted such opportunity and used the same as a platform to attack the methods undertaken by this Administration. Such tack was even motivated by hubris to prove their past arguments against the anti-illegal drug operations were correct. It at once crumbled as her request for police data validated the falsity of their arguments that the extra-judicial killings are state-sponsored,” added Panelo, who is also the chief presidential legal counsel.
The functions of the ICAD, as performed by its four clusters, are already spelled out in Executive Order No. 15, according to Panelo.
He said the role of its head is to ensure that the objectives of the ICAD are accomplished.
“If VP Robredo wanted clarification in the scope and limits of her new task, she could have sought audience with the President, which she failed to do. As always, she talked -- not with her appointing authority -- but right in front of the cameras asking the President on her supposed mandate,” said Panelo.
“If VP Robredo is really serious in addressing the cause of the drug problem, she should have gone down to the grassroots -- talking to the victims, to their families, and to the communities. Instead, she opted to have audience with the United Nations and the United States embassy officials who remain out-of-touch from the realities of the local drug problem on the ground,” he said.
Earlier, Panelo said Robredo committed “missteps” with her actions.
The spokesman said Duterte gave Robredo ample authority and powers to direct all responsible government instrumentalities to act in accordance with the strategic objectives that she might have had in mind, in line with putting an end to the drug menace in the country.
“However, the Vice President resorted to unduly baiting international attention on the matter, particularly from persons or entities that know little or none at all about our situation, other than their own bias or unsubstantiated prejudgment,” he said.
Panelo further said Robredo’s asking of confidential law enforcement information could not be given the “benefit of the doubt”.
“Given the transparency of her motive to politicize the issue, the intention of the Vice President to seek access to confidential law enforcement information cannot be given the benefit of the doubt as being free from malice or manipulation. Essentially, what the Vice President has done is to embarrass our country, apart from detrimentally undermining the government’s efforts to preserve the general welfare,” he said.
“It is time to put the issue to eternal rest and bury it in the graveyard of what could have been, as well as dismiss any obstacle that impedes the government to focus on the issue at hand,” he said.
It was Duterte who offered Robredo the position to be the drug-czar, which the Vice President formally accepted on November 6. There were observations that the Palace did not expect that Robredo would accept the post.
But after accepting the post, she was faced by controversies including her alleged meeting with United Nations and other groups and individuals critical of the administration's war on drugs which turned out to be “fake news”.
Duterte on Saturday apologized to Robredo for believing in the said “fake news” but repeatedly expressed his lack of trust to the Vice President.
“There can never be a trust that can be nurtured between the two of us for the simple reason that Leni Robredo is with the opposition, I’m on the opposite (side),” he said.
“If you will say she will ask the paper, examine and all of these things, so there is what you would call the need to know. Is there a need for you, Leni, to know everything? I don’t think it’s good,” he added. Ella Dionisio/DMS