Palace: Let Robredo do her job as ICAD co-chair
MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo should be given the chance to do her job as ‘drug czar’, Malacañang said Sunday, as it backed calls for her to join anti-drug operations.
President Rodrigo Duterte appointed Robredo as co-chair of the Inter-agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) last week after he was irked by her claim that his controversial crackdown on narcotics is not working.
Robredo, the leader of the opposition, has accepted the post and has vowed to put an end to what she described as “senseless killings” in the “drug war”. Her appointment, which will be in effect until Duterte steps down in 2022, has drawn mixed reactions, with some critics fearing her approach on the drug problem may be too soft. Some of Robredo’s allies are also with uneasy with her designation, saying it may be a trap intended to shame her.
Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo lashed at those who are speculating about Robredo’s appointment, saying the vice president should just be allowed to carry out her plans.
“Let us allow VP (Vice President) Leni to implement her strategies. We can’t have too many quarterbackers, too many nitpickers, too many speculations,” Panelo said in a radio interview.
“The problem is she just assumed her post and yet many questions have already been raised and many expectations have been expressed. She is just on her fourth day, my goodness, let her do her work,” he added.
Panelo was asked to react to Robredo’s plan to do away with killings in the anti-drug crackdown and to meet with United States and United Nations officials to discuss issues related to the campaign.
“Let us just allow the lady to work, Let’s support her. Let’s not think that she won’t succeed, that the Palace will do this or that. She has not even started and yet we are giving her roadblocks. Let us wish her well and support her,” the president’s spokesman said.
Panelo also agreed with Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) chief Aaron Aquino that Robredo should join actual anti-drug operations, saying this would allow her to see what is really happening on the ground. Aquino posed the challenge to Robredo during their first meeting as ICAD chairpersons last Friday.
“I was the first one to suggest that…I said when she (Robredo) becomes ‘drug czar’, perhaps she should join actual drug operations so she could see the realities on the ground. Seeing the events is different from hearing about them… We are pleased to note that the VP is open to that situation,” he said.
Panelo said the presence of Robredo in drug operations would not pose an additional responsibility to policemen because the Vice President has her own security personnel.
‘We have nothing to hide’
Malacañang also said it has no problems giving Robredo access to intelligence reports on the drug war despite claims that the information may be used to boost the complaints against Duterte.
“The government is not hiding anything. These records are open. There is nothing wrong with the intelligence reports that identify those who are involved in drug trade. All agencies are following these leads so what’s wrong with that?” Panelo said.
Two communications expressing concern over the killings linked to the drug war have been filed before the International Criminal Court. Duterte has shrugged off the allegations that he is endorsing extrajudicial killings and claimed that he is ready to go to jail for implementing his controversial anti-drug campaign.
The Palace likewise said it did not feel alluded to by Senator Panfilo Lacson’s advice for Robredo to always watch her back as she carries out her functions as drug czar.
“Many people want to ride on that (appointment), politicians, those who want to smear her, those who would become her rivals if she runs for president. That’s what Sen. Lacson meant and for that matter all politicians should be watching their backs because they have a lot of hidden enemies,” Panelo said.