Drug czarina Vice President Leni Robredo can access all information she wishes in connection with the administration’s war against illegal drugs, the Palace guaranteed yesterday.
Chief Presidential Legal Counsel and spokesman Salvador Panelo stressed the Duterte administration’s transparency in the campaign.
In a broadcast interview, Panelo was asked if Malacañang is bothered over Robredo’s access to intelligence reports that could be used before the International Criminal Court (ICC) against President Rodrigo Duterte.
He pointed out the administration has nothing to hide with regards to the campaign against illegal drugs.
“First the government is not hiding anything from the record, it is open,” Panelo pointed out.
“The intelligence you are speaking of, about those who are involved in illegal drugs, are the ones there and that is what the agencies are following up,” he added.
Prior to accepting her appointment as co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee Against Drugs (ICAD) by the President, Robredo has been among the staunchest critic of the administration’s all-out campaign against illegal drugs.
In fact, she was among the first critics to bring the issue to the international stage, through an interview with Time in 2017 and a video message before the United Nations days after.
At the same time, the spokesman echoed Sen. Panfilo Lacson’s advise to Robredo to watch her back after her appointment as the country’s anti-illegal drugs czarina.
‘What he (Lacson) meant about ‘watch your back’ is that many wanted to ride. You know who are those who wanted to hitch a ride? It’s the politicians,” Panelo said.
“Many want to destroy her. Who are they? Of course, those whom she will become enemies with if she runs for President,” he added.
No invite, no Leni
Meanwhile, Robredo said the order not to attend Cabinet meetings still stands unless a new order will be given by Malacañang.
This was her statement in her weekly radio program despite Panelo earlier saying that she is “welcome” to attend the Cabinet meeting.
“First, I was appointed, designated as co-chairman of ICAD. The Cabinet position, Cabinet rank, was not indicated there in the designation. That was only said by Secretary Panelo during briefings, media guesting. But I will wait. I will clarify that,” Robredo said.
“But for me, I will only attend if I will be invited. But if I was not invited, then I will not go because if you recall, they are the ones who ordered me not to attend. So, until such time that there is no new order, their previous order stands,” she added.
Last Wednesday, the members of the Cabinet held a meeting in Malacañang — just hours after Robredo publicly announced her acceptance of her appointment.
Panelo previously said she needs to talk to Mr. Duterte to know the “parameters of her power as drug czar,” but Robredo said she is more focused on the cooperation of the agencies under the ICAD.
“That (Cabinet position) is not important for me. What is important is the cooperation of the agencies. We can see the sincerity of the offer if the agencies will fully cooperate. So far, as long as they are not hindered, even if there are insults, we will ignore that because no matter how small the space that was given to me, as long as I can contribute, I will do it,” Robredo said.
The Vice President also expressed hope that the drug war will become successful only if the government agencies under the ICAD will cooperate and will follow the Philippines Anti-Drug Strategy (PADS).
“The framework, the plan was just crafted recently. At the start (of the drug war) in 2016, there was no framework. Maybe, that’s the reason why the campaign became complicated because the campaign was not yet ironed out,” she said.
She said she was scanning the PADS documents crafted by the Dangerous Drugs Board and there were already accomplishments made by the government, but there were also things that need to be done.
“There are a lot of things that were already done, but there were still things to do. I think, as long as the agencies are cooperative, we can accomplish things in the next two-and-a-half years,” she said.