MANILA,Philippines — The new anti-drug czar does not have the trust of President Duterte, but she will keep her post, with her access to confidential matters limited to a “need to know basis.”
In a press conference at Malacañang late last night, President Duterte called Vice President Leni Robredo a “scatterbrain” with “kneejerk” impulses whom he would not appoint to the Cabinet and entrust with sensitive information about the state.
He rained expletives on someone he described as a United Nations prosecutor who he said was invited by Robredo to Manila, and whose response was posted on Twitter. Duterte vowed to slap the prosecutor in front of Robredo.
“Nakita ko ang tweet eh: I am packed and ready to arrest Duterte. P***** i** mo Leni, sa harap mo sampalin ko yan,” the President said, shedding light on his withdrawal of his offer to give Robredo a Cabinet-rank position as anti-drug czar.
Despite the tirade, Duterte said Robredo would keep her post and he was merely “setting the parameters” of her role as co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs or ICAD.
“You can give the directions, you can give the guidance,” he said in a message to Robredo. “(But) need to know ka lang… I don’t agree that because she is Vice President she already has security clearance.”
He said Robredo could make the war on drugs “transparent to her
liking, make it transparent for the people.”
“I never said I’m firing her,” he stressed, even as he accused her of “grandstanding” and “treading a very dangerous ground.”
Robredo had met with representatives of the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime during which she reportedly discussed “best practices” in the global campaign against drugs.
“The way she behaved after I appointed her was not… inspiring. Natakot tuloy ako (I got scared),” Duterte said as he accused Robredo of “grandstanding.”
Duterte was apparently referring to a tweet on Nov. 11 by Phelim Kine, addressed to “Dear VP” Robredo: “my bags are packed and I’m ready to come to the Philippines to help advise how to end this murderous ‘drug war.’ Meanwhile here is my Recommendation No. 1: Arrest Duterte and his henchmen for inciting & instigating mass murder.”
Others pointed out that Kine is not a prosecutor of the International Criminal Court but a physician and former member of Human Rights Watch.
Duterte pointed out that sensitive information leaked by Robredo might be used by “fishermen” at the Senate – a reference to fishing expeditions against his administration.
Duterte noted that one of the biggest drug traffickers is based in Bicol, and he worried about how Robredo might use that kind of information.
“I cannot trust her not only because she is a member of the opposition. I do not trust her because I do not know her,” he admitted.
If he appointed Robredo to the Cabinet, giving her access to sensitive state information, he said “you will just place the republic in jeopardy.”
The state has deep penetration agents in the drug war and he could not jeopardize them, he said.
But he ordered the daily reports on anti-drug operations conducted by law enforcement agencies to be posted on the website of PTV 4, where anyone can access information on persons arrested or “neutralized” or killed.