VICE President Leni Robredo on Tuesday, November 19, said her work continues as the administration’s anti-drug czar despite not being a Cabinet member.
Her statement came following President Rodrigo Duterte’s announcement he was not allowing Robredo to join his Cabinet, expressing concern over Robredo possibly disclosing sensitive information discussed during Cabinet meetings to various groups.
Robredo, for her part, said she would continue to do her job as drug czar despite not getting the president’s trust, stressing that her focus is on getting the job done and not on squabbling with administration officials who have questioned her inclusion in the Inter-agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD).
“When I accepted the job, it did not matter to me whether it was of Cabinet rank or not. It’s full steam ahead. I began working on the first day,” said the vice president in Filipino.
Some officials are also against sharing information with Robredo since she is the leader of the opposition. Among them include Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Undersecretary Ricojudge Echiverri who said Robredo might sell them out in the future, and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency director general Aaron Aquino who claimed it is beyond Robredo’s mandate as co-chair to get hold of the list of their high-value targets.
Robredo merely shrugged off their allegations.
“It’s their problem… whatever I can do now, I will do it,” she said.
She also countered Duterte’s claim about her sharing confidential information with foreign institutions that have “prejudged” the drug war, saying the Philippine government had worked with agencies like the United Nations and the U.S. government before.
“If they do not trust me, why designate me in the first place?” Robredo asked.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson, meanwhile, backed up Robredo, pointing out that she has been “saying and doing the right things” as ICAD co-chair.
He also urged the ICAD members to give Robredo their support “for the sake of the overall objective” of fighting drug traffickers and addiction.