Duterte not satisfied with Robredo’s performance as drug czar

President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday admitted that he is not satisfied with Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo’s performance as co-chairperson of Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD).

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“Insofar as what she (Robredo) is doing now, that is not very clear to me. Nakukulangan ako sa ability niya (I am not satisfied with her ability),” the President said in a media interview in Davao City.

“Ako, hindi pa siya nagtatrabaho talaga nang husto (For me, she has yet to give her best as she is really not doing her job well). I have yet to see the Vice President working as an ICAD co-chair,” he added.

On October 31, Robredo was appointed to lead the ICAD, along with Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director General Aaron Aquino, until June 30, 2022, after earning the President’s ire when she claimed that the drug war is “absolutely not working.”

Duterte stressed Robredo should know the “description of her work” as ICAD co-chair.

He added that Robredo needs to discuss with Aquino the “sharing” of their powers as heads of the anti-drug body.

No order for her to resign

On Wednesday, Robredo said she would be willing to give up as anti-drug czar should the President ask her to vacate the post.

The President, however, clarified that he is not ordering Robredo to quit as ICAD co-chair.

“Hindi ako -- ayaw ko sa kanya. Sabi ko lang na I cannot trust her kasi hindi kami magka-[alyado]. Kung sabihin mo sa trabaho lang, trabaho ka lang diyan (It’s not that I don’t like her. I just said I don’t trust her. If you said it’s just work, then just do your work),” he said.

The President maintained that he could not appoint Robredo as a member of his Cabinet, as he opted to discuss confidential drug war records with people who have the “same persuasion.”

Duterte apologetic for previous rants vs. Robredo

Duterte’s refusal to let Robredo hold a Cabinet rank stemmed from the Vice President’s earlier announcement that she would be meeting officials of the United States (US) and the United Nations (UN) to discuss the Philippines’ handling of drug problem.

Robredo clarified earlier that she had only met with the officers of the US Embassy in Manila and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime based in the Philippines.

The President apologized for believing in “false news” about Robredo’s meeting with UN officials who are critical of his drug war.

“So if she says that’s false news, I believe her. And I am sorry because I said you only realize that it is false news when the news comes out. And you hear it and you talk about it, you react to it, that is the problem,” he said.

'Not good' for Robredo

Despite the apology, the President said it would be better if Robredo has limited access to all information related to the government’s campaign against illegal drugs despite her role as ICAD co-chair.

Duterte made the remark, as he maintained his stance not to share with Robredo the confidential records about his administration’s anti-narcotics.

“Pero kung sabihin mo na (But if you’d say that) she will ask [for] the paper and examine all of these things, so there is what you would call the need to know,” the President said.

“Is there a need for you, Leni, to know everything? I don’t think it’s good,” he added.

The President said he can “never” trust Robredo, despite the latter’s acceptance of the position as ICAD co-chair.

“There can never be a trust that can be nurtured between the two of us for the simple reason that Leni Robredo is with the opposition, ako nandito ako sa kabila (while I belong to the ruling party),” Duterte said.

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