Not having seen eye-to-eye with President Rody Duterte yet after she accepted the offer as co-chairman of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Drugs (ICAD), Vice President Leni Robredo is already getting under his skin.
In a press briefing, Rody noted the initial acts of his anti-drugs czarina was to feed his skepticism and convinced him that he does not know her well.
“I do not trust her because I do not know her,” Rody said.
Robredo as ICAD co-chairman had a rough start as she clashed openly with Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) director general Aaron Aquino who is her counterpart.
Based on Rody’s new directive, the Vice President remains an ICAD chairman, but she is not a member of the Cabinet, meaning she will not be invited to join the regular meetings of the official family.
Proof of the irreconcilable difference between Robredo and Rody is the Vice President’s signing of a manifesto contained in a full-page ad demanding the release of Sen. Leila de Lima, who is detained for drug trafficking charges.
The manifesto mentioned that she is in jail over “trumped-up and politically-motivated illegal drug charges.”
By signing the document in support of De Lima, Robredo has made known her view on the anti-drugs effort conflicts with that of the President and his administration.
Rody gave Robredo the chance to contribute to the anti-narcotics campaign after she said in an interview with an international news outfit that the President’s campaign was “obviously not working.”
Among her first acts when she assumed the post was to mill around the foreign groups which Rody had clashed with for being interlopers as a result of their views seeking to impose on the country methods, which Robredo is now trying to implement.
Those who Robredo sought to meet had also prejudged the war on drugs, according to Rody’s spokesman Sal Panelo.
Robredo had met with representatives from the United States Embassy and had scheduled to talk with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime supposedly as part of her efforts to improve the crackdown on illegal drugs.
The Vice President was also insistent on getting access to classified information that could pose risks to national security, primarily the list of high-value targets in the war on drugs, which even top security officials are not allowed to access much more take possession of.
The PDEA and the Philippine National Police, nonetheless, still wanted to oblige Robredo and share the information she was asking but only in a closed-door meeting.
Panelo noted that Robredo has the “tendency to be generous with acquired information.”
Panelo added that the Chief Executive does not trust Robredo when it comes to keeping confidential records about the government’s anti-narcotics campaign.
Rody said Robredo can’t be a member of the Cabinet because she can’t be trusted and her presence would “jeopardize the whole situation.”
Bigger demands are expected from Robredo as a Cabinet member.
“It’s dangerous because she’s from the opposition. I’m from the other party. We will be throwing garbage at each other,” he said.
Rody maintained his generosity, nonetheless, and refused to terminate Robredo outright despite the impossible situation as a result of their conflicting views.
Duterte said as ICAD co-chair she does not need to know “classified” matters with regard to the government’s anti-narcotics crackdown, and information will be granted to her on a “need to know” basis in carrying out her mandate.
“Need to know (basis on the release of information) to complete her (task). If she asks something, then you give her. You give her half of it. The other half, if it’s classified information, there is no need for her to know,” he declared.
Rody explained that she can still provide guidance to the anti-narcotics campaign, which was her given task on the first place.
The President said he could not accept “grandstanding” from the Vice President.
Robredo, despite all her shortcomings and showing she is unworthy of it, is given a final opportunity to redeem herself, which is already too much of a concession.