Pangilinan said Malacañang need not invent stories to discredit Robredo and justify its claim that she could not be trusted with confidential information. He said President Duterte should not have appointed her as co-chairperson of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) if he does not trust her.
The STAR/Geremy Pintolo, File
‘Fire Leni instead of belittling her’
Janvic Mateo, Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) - November 23, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Instead of fabricating stories to put down Vice President Leni Robredo, the Duterte administration should just fire her or exert more effort in solving the country’s drug problem, opposition Sen. Francis Pangilinan said yesterday.

Pangilinan said Malacañang need not invent stories to discredit Robredo and justify its claim that she could not be trusted with confidential information. He said President Duterte should not have appointed her as co-chairperson of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) if he does not trust her.

The senator said Malacañang probably did not expect her to accept the post so she is now being barraged with “baseless criticisms.”

“We won’t pay attention to the fabricated stories of Malacañang against VP Leni. These stories are nonsense, baseless and made-up,” Pangilinan said.

He said nothing is stopping Duterte from removing Robredo from the ICAD.

“They should stop the threatening to fire VP Leni and insinuating that she cannot be trusted. VP Leni is not clinging to her post as drug czar,” he said.

Pangilinan said Robredo believes the killings will not solve the drug problem which, he said, should be seen as a health issue.

Sen. Christopher Go said Duterte appointed Robredo “so she can have the opportunity for resolving the drug problem herself” after she referred to the drug war as “a failure.”

“President Duterte appointed her because she kept on commenting that the way President Duterte was running the war on drugs was not good. So the President said ‘OK, you help us in whatever way you can’,” Go said.

Go also lashed out at former president Benigno Aquino III, saying the latter blew his chance to curb the drug problem during his administration.

“You know, former president Aquino, you had your time when you should have fought illegal drugs. Addicts, syndicates and drug lords multiplied under your watch,” he said.

Go also said Filipinos should be the judge if the government’s efforts to fight drugs are a success or not.

He said the administration’s war on drugs should not be considered a failure if 82 percent of Filipinos approve of it.

He said the priority of the administration is to go after criminals in order to protect the innocent from harm caused by illegal drugs.

Meanwhile, Robredo yesterday lauded operatives who successfully recovered P1.3 million worth of suspected shabu in a raid in Quezon City Thursday night.

“Saludo sa ating anti-drug operatives,” she said on Twitter.

“Sa isang sistemang maayos, mas nagkakaroon ng pagkakataon mapapanagot ang mga sangkot sa kalakaran ng iligal na droga (In a working system, there is greater chance to hold accountable those involved in the illegal drug trade),” she added.

It was not the first time the Vice President lauded law enforcement agents since being appointed ICAD co-chair.

Last week, she also praised the operatives behind the successful anti-illegal drug operations in Makati and Tondo.

“This was done without sacrificing innocent lives. Hopeful that we can continue this in our fight vs illegal drugs,” she wrote.

Robredo, who has been critical of the alleged human rights abuses related to the so-called drug war, has advocated a bloodless approach to the illegal drug campaign since accepting the ICAD post.

She has also pushed for a health-based approach by strengthening community-based rehabilitation centers for those who surrendered.

She visited yesterday the Salaam compound in Barangay Culiat in Quezon City, once considered among the most notorious hubs for illegal drugs.

She cited the “dramatic transformation” of the area, where the drug menace was put under control without loss of lives.

She noted the Quezon City government’s effort to harmonize data on the campaign against illegal drugs from the city level down to the grassroots.

The local government is currently implementing a central database that profiles tens of thousands of surrenderees in a bid to enhance the city’s anti-illegal drug campaign.

“This shows us that the fight against illegal drugs is not just a fight of the police or the government but of the entire community,” she said.

In 2016, Salaam compound was subject to at least two massive raids that led to the arrest of more than 200 drug suspects.

She noted that her job as ICAD co-chairperson is a “continuing learning exercise.” 

LENI ROBREDO
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