VICE President Leni Robredo will remain co-chairperson of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (Icad) but will not hold a Cabinet rank to limit her access to classified information, Malacañang said on Tuesday, November 19.
In a phone patch interview, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said President Rodrigo Duterte appointed Robredo as Icad co-chairperson with reservations due to the "red signs that cannot be ignored by the President."
"You remember that the President made a declaration when he was going to appoint her as drug czar. He said he would also appoint her as a member of the Cabinet. But then after her appointment, she made missteps if I may call it, that registered red signs that cannot be ignored by the President," Panelo said.
"She talked with and sought advice from foreign institutions as well as personalities that have already prejudged the war on drugs as being violations of human rights as well as crimes against humanity. Apart from that, she was demanding unlimited access to documents including classified information," he added.
In a memorandum dated October 31, Duterte designated Robredo as co-chairperson of the Icad until June 30, 2022.
The memorandum, however, did not mention that Robredo will hold a Cabinet rank.
Panelo said Duterte has been disinclined to appoint Robredo because the Vice President has a tendency to "transmit whatever acquired information or knowledge she has."
He said Duterte does not trust Robredo when it comes to "classified" matters about the drug war.
"As member of the Cabinet, she has unlimited access to all state matters, matters that are being discussed during Cabinet meetings. And given her penchant or her tendency to transmit acquired knowledge or information to others who may have predeliction of not being in the best interest of the country," he said.
"To the President’s mind that cannot be ignored. So he decided not to appoint her in the Cabinet," Panelo added.
In a statement, Panelo also took note of the Vice President's actions to talk with and seek the advice of several foreign entities "that have prejudged the campaign against illegal drugs as a violation of human rights, as well as a crime against humanity, did not sit well with the President."
He also lamented that Robredo's actions are "all documented in mainstream and social media."
"Ms. Robredo's insistence on getting access to classified information, a revelation of which could imperil the welfare of the Filipino people and the security of the State, added to PRRD’s reconsideration of his earlier desire to appoint her in the Cabinet," the Palace official said.
"Her requests for unrestricted data to help her fulfill her role is an admission that the earlier criticisms of the political opposition to which she belongs against the anti-drug operations have no factual basis," he added. (NASE/SunStar Philippines)