With or without Cabinet post, Robredo says work continues
The Vice President yesterday visited the Navotas fish port in a bid to get to know the drug situation in one of the hardest hit areas in the war on drugs.
The STAR/Geremy Pintolo/File
With or without Cabinet post, Robredo says work continues
Marc Jayson Cayabyab (The Philippine Star) - November 20, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo yesterday said she remains unfazed in her work as co-chair of the Inter-agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) even if she will not be included in the Duterte Cabinet.

The Vice President yesterday visited the Navotas fish port in a bid to get to know the drug situation in one of the hardest hit areas in the war on drugs. She made the visit just as President Duterte announced that he was not inclined to allow Robredo to join his Cabinet, fearing she may give out sensitive information to international agencies critical of the drug war.

In an interview, Robredo said she would continue to do her job as drug czar despite not getting the President’s confidence to join the Cabinet. She intends to focus on getting the job done, instead of engaging in a word war with administration officials who have questioned her inclusion in the 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,” she said in Filipino.

Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Undersecretary Ricojudge Echiverri earlier expressed apprehension on sharing information with Robredo, the leader of the opposition, expressing fears there would be laglagan – a term meaning that the Vice President might sell them out in the future.

Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency director general Aaron Aquino had also opposed sharing with Robredo a list of their high-value targets, calling it beyond her mandate as co-chair.

Robredo brushed off the allegations.

“It’s their problem… whatever I can do now, I will do it,” she countered.

On Duterte’s claim that she had been sharing confidential information with foreign institutions that have “prejudged” the drug war, Robredo said the Philippine government had always worked with agencies like the UN and the US government.

She added that she had expected being sidelined from the Cabinet due to lack of sincerity in the offer, but would not waste her time squabbling.

“If they do not trust me, why designate me in the first place?” Robredo asked.

In Navotas, the Vice President was greeted with cheers from residents, among them tokhang victims whose relatives were killed in police operations or vigilante attacks in Market 3 of the fish port, which has been dubbed as a hotbed of criminality.

She expressed solidarity with the victims of extrajudicial killings.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson defended her yesterday as he pointed out that she has been “saying and doing the right things” as ICAD co-chairperson.

He urged the ICAD members to support Robredo “for the sake of the overall objective” of fighting drug traffickers and addiction.

Lacson, a former chief of the Philippine National Police and former chairman of the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs, said he suggested to her to maximize networking with foreign counterparts, like the US Drug Enforcement Agency, the Hong Kong Narcotics Bureau and anti-drug authorities in Taiwan, Thailand and Australia “because she would need all the information that she could have.”

He also believed that she should be given all the basic and necessary information she will need as ICAD co-chairperson, including the list of the government’s high-value targets (HVTs). – With Paolo Romero, Romina Cabrera, Helen Flores

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