Robredo advised: ‘Trust is earned’

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Vice President Leni Robredo, cochair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Illegal Drugs, enjoys the support of the members of the counter narcotics body, according to Lt. Gen. Archie Gamboa, the acting national police chief. Robredo is shown above talking with Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency chief Aaron Aquino and regional and provincial law-enforcement officials during her visit to Dinalupihan, Bataan province, on Thursday, November 21.
| Photo from the Office of the Vice President

Malacañang reminded Vice President Leni Robredo that “trust is earned” after she responded to President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement expressing concern over the way she reportedly handles confidential information related to the war on drugs.

In a statement, Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said, “Trust is earned. The missteps of the vice president did not inspire confidence in the matter of keeping to oneself classified information.”

Panelo asserted that the election to the second highest office does not automatically warrant trustworthiness.

“Her job in leading the agencies involved in the anti-illegal drug campaign requires competence and creativity,” he continued. “Trust comes into play only as regards the non-transmission of state secrets that imperils the safety of the Filipino people and the sovereignty of the country.”

Robredo on Wednesday said Duterte should tell her directly if he wants to revoke her appointment as co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) and wrote to him asking for clarification on her duties. 

However, the vice president has maintained that she would not resign as she has anticipated that it would be a difficult position. 

“She made it very, very clear when she accepted this designation two weeks ago (that) despite warnings by close allies, by experts observing the proceedings, that she would not be allowed to succeed, that obstacles will be put in her way,” her spokesman Barry Gutierrez told reporters. 

Former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III questioned Duterte’s decision to appoint Robredo, pointing out that leaders “normally” appoint officials who they trust.

“Pwede ba ‘yung itatalaga mo pero hindi mo pagkakatiwalaan? Medyo magulo yata (Is it possible to appoint someone but you do not trust them? That seems confusing),” Aquino told reporters.

Panelo, for his part, said the Palace is not surprised by the remarks of Robredo and Aquino. He advised Robredo not to get affected by Duterte’s remarks that he does not trust her on confidential matters because securing confidential information is not her job to begin with.

“Since she will not be given access to privileged communication, she should not be bothered by the expressed lack of trust by the appointing power with respect to the confidentiality of state matters requiring secrecy,” he said.

“After all, she is tasked to help end the illegal drug trade in the country and not to get secret information of the government to share the same with her foreign and local peers,” Panelo added.

He, then, turned the tables on Aquino, telling him to focus on his pending case before the Sandiganbayan. Panelo also reminded the former president that it was during his administration that the drug problem “ballooned.”

“As for former President Aquino, he is better off focusing on his case pending before the Sandiganbayan, as well as taking care of his health, than touching on a matter related to the dreaded drug menace that he never gave the attention and importance it deserves during his six-year presidency,” Panelo said. 

“Lest we forget, the drug problem ballooned in magnitude in his time, obviously due to his neglect in countering this evil that is putting this country into the precipice of a generational destruction,” he added.

Panelo also lauded Duterte for appointing Robredo as the administration’s anti-drug czar, despite her being part of the opposition party.

“What is clear therefore is that (the president) has transcended politics and trust issues that long divided the nation. It is a rarity to find a leader to give the head of the opposition party a golden opportunity to oversee the campaign against illegal drugs,” the spokesperson added. 

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