By Daniel Llanto
For meeting with the US embassy and UN drug specialists, President Duterte fired Vice-president Leni Robredo as anti-drug czar since this would supposedly give away state secrets to foreign entities.
Robredo lasted less than three weeks as head of Duterte’s anti-drugs campaign, which she vowed to reform amid allegations police were committing crimes against humanity in killing thousands of drug suspects.
As Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo put it, Robredo was dismissed because “the Vice-president resorted to unduly baiting international attention on the matter. Essentially, what the Vice-president has done is to embarrass our country,” Panelo added.
The decision came after Duterte and his political allies publicly criticized Robredo, who vowed to end “senseless” killing in the drug war after her appointment.
Duterte earlier took issue with Robredo’s meeting the US embassy and United Nations drug experts. “I do not trust her,” Duterte then told reporters, calling Robredo a “scatterbrain” who could inadvertently share sensitive security matters with outsiders.
But Robredo’s opposition allies ascribed other reasons for her dismissal. Sen. Francis Pangilinan said: “Sa maikling panahon, pinakita niVP Leni na hindi solusyon ang araw–araw na patayan ng mga mahihirap na drug user habang pinapakawalan at pino-promoteang malalakingdrug lord, ninja cops, at mga protektor nila.”
According to Pangilinan, “Sumabog sa mukha nila ang kanilang tangkang pahiyain siVP Leni.”
Liberal Party member Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said Robredo was set up all along to fail, her appointment just a knee-jerk reaction to her criticisms on Duterte’s bloody war against illegal drugs.
Lagman called it a “mistake” on the part of the Vice-president to accept the “anti-drugs czar” post in the first place. The veteran congressman said, “Duterte cannot allow Robredo to succeed in his centerpiece program of a violent anti-narcotics drive where he himself has dismally failed.”
For his part, Senior Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlo Zarate said Robredo’s firing as co-chair of the Interagency Committee against Drugs (ICAD) post was “no longer a shocker.”
“The firing of VP Leni is bound to happen because the Duterte administration’s campaign against drugs is truly a sham. From day one of her appointment up until she was fired, she was already a threat to the Duterte administration’s bloody yet fake drug campaign,” he said.
“Her continued stay will only further unmask the fact that the drug problem is still worsening…she created a tectonic shake and apparently caused many people to panic,” reckoned Zarate.
The Palace earlier said it was concerned by Robredo’s speaking to foreign critics of the administration. “She may not realize it but she could be treading on dangerous grounds. It could be an overreach of the granted authority hence the reminder,” Panelo had warned.
But Robredo assured she is already aware that she is not allowed to reveal confidential information to the public.
“Tayo ay magiging transparent as possible sa mga nangyayari para alam ng taong bayan kung anong nangyayari pero hindi natin ida-divulge ‘yung sensitive information na makakasama sa kampanya,” she said.
Robredo added that it is within her mandate under Executive Order No. 54 to ensure high-value targets are caught, referring to her request to obtain a copy of Duterte’s narco-list of politicians which piqued Duterte as well.
“Paano ko mae-ensure na mahuhuli ‘yung high-value targets kung hindi ko nga alam kung ilan ba ‘yung high-value targets and ano ba ‘yung status sa pagtugis ng high-value targets?” she argued.
She also said she was not the one who approached the media about the request for the list in the first place but the agencies themselves that now express apprehensions.
“Hindi nga namin ina-announce sa media na humihingi kami nito, nasa private communication ito…imbis na sagutin tayo, sagutin ‘yung ating sulat, sumagot sa media,” she defended.
However, she maintained transparency is still important in the campaign.