Last night, Pres. Rodrigo Duterte fired VP Leni Robredo as co-chairperson of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD). This came days after Duterte said he cannot trust Robredo with the job after she invited the Human Rights Commission to look into the drug war. The vice president only held the position for two weeks instead of six months.
According to presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo, this is Duterte’s response to the opposition’s challenge to fire Robredo if he distrusted her. Panelo claimed she wasted the opportunity to use her ICAD post “as a platform to attack the methods” used by the Duterte administration.
“Such tack was even motivated by hubris to prove their past arguments against the anti-illegal drug operations were correct. It at once crumbled as her request for police data validated the falsity of their arguments that the extra-judicial killings are state-sponsored,” he said. “If VP Robredo is really serious in addressing the cause of the drug problem, she should have gone down to the grassroots—talking to the victims, to their families, and to the communities. Instead, she opted to have an audience with the United Nations and the United States embassy officials, who remain out-of-touch from the realities of the local drug problem on the ground.”
Panelo, as quoted by ABS-CBN News’ Twitter account, faults Robredo for not seeking clarification from the president on the scope of her power as ICAD co-chair. Panelo previously said Robredo is allowed to enforce what she thinks is right and that the Palace would support her. But of course, they started backtracking when Robredo met with officials of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to discuss the country’s drug problem.
Panelo also took offense to Robredo saying, “Kung nagkamali siya sa pag-appoint sa akin, sabihin niya lang” (If Duterte made a mistake in appointing me, he should just say so) because he claims it’s disrespectful to the president. But Robredo is right: If Duterte didn’t trust her, why give her the position in the first place? Oh right, because the president also didn’t like how Robredo said the drug war was a failure (it is) and thought giving her the ICAD post would silence her.
Panelo: Matindi 'yung sasabihin mo sa mukha mo 'Alam mo kung ayaw mo sa akin edi sabihin mo' — that's very rude. The executive is supposed to be the boss tapos sasabihan mo siya ng 'Kung ayaw mo sa akin edi sabihin mo.'
— ABS-CBN News (@ABSCBNNews) November 24, 2019
When Robredo accepted the ICAD post, she suggested to scrap Oplan Tokhang and find an alternative method to address the illegal drug problem without resorting to violence. It’s obvious that the Duterte administration didn’t want her to find out something she shouldn’t.
To quote former senatorial candidate and human rights lawyer Chel Diokno, “It looks like they fired her for asking the right questions.”
Malinaw ang plano ni VP Leni bilang ICAD co-chair: na itigil ang patayan, habulin ang big-time drug lords at sindikato na nagbebenta at nagre-recycle ng droga, at panagutin ang human rights abusers. It looks like they fired her for asking the right questions. #IStandWithLeni
— Chel Diokno (@ChelDiokno) November 24, 2019
Photo courtesy of Inquirer.net
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