Robredo not a Cabinet member, Duterte states

In this photo release, Vice President Leni Robredo met with members of the Naga City Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) at City Anti-Drug Abuse Council (CADAC) to ask for updates in their initiatives in their anti-narcotics campaign. | Photo from the Office of the Vice President

President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday, November 18, clarified that Vice President Leni Robredo is not a Cabinet member despite her appointment as the administration’s anti-drug czar.

The president made this statement after revealing his concerns that Robredo might disclose sensitive information discussed during Cabinet meetings to various groups.

“She is not a member of the Cabinet. I have not appointed her as a Cabinet member. You know why? Early on she was talking right and left that she would talk to this and talk to that. In the Cabinet meeting, we talk about what’s happening. Eh kung marinig niya ‘yan diyan tapos dadaldal niya sa labas (What if she hears it and talks about it outside)?” Duterte told GMA News.

“She’s not a Cabinet (member). I have not signed an appointment designating her as a Cabinet (member),” he added.

Last month, Duterte said that he would temporarily designate Robredo as the Philippines’anti-drug czar following her remark that his war against illegal drugs is “obviously, not working.” He followed it up with a promise of giving Robredo a Cabinet secretary rank to show the seriousness of his offer.

“If I would take her in as the drug czar, I will have to first make her a Cabinet member. Then I will give her the marching orders and the specific functions. All in connection with drugs, hers,” he said.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, meanwhile, said Robredo could still perform her functions as co-chair of the Inter-agency Committee on Anti-illegal Drugs (ICAD) even if she is not a member of the Cabinet.

“As co-chair of ICAD she’s already been calling meetings with anti-drug agencies and she’s been functioning as co-chair and agencies are giving her support,” Nograles said.

“I think that’s sufficient and the fact that she is able to call meetings means that she’s already doing her job as chair of ICAD,” Nograles added.

Duterte also warned Robredo to not cross the line as ICAD co-chair, meaning disclosing classified information to foreign entities.

“Early on, many people have offered to help her. She would be protected, that’s good. But, you know, you guys, do not cross the line just because you are there you think you are fancy? No, of course not. You and I have this duty to our country,” he said.

“I’m just in the side and I think she’s doing good. But she has to, treading a very dangerous ground I heard. Just because you are taken in to be the flag officer of the ICAD doesn’t mean you can just give info right and left,” Duterte added.

The president also warned that he would fire Robredo if she leaks any classified information.

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