By Genalyn Kabiling
Vice President Leni Robredo may lose her post as the country’s anti-drug czar if President Duterte is not satisfied with her performance.
Even as the President has given Robredo free rein to lead the anti-drug campaign, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said the performance of the Vice President, like other Cabinet members and presidential appointees, will be evaluated by the Chief Executive.
“Lahat naman ng members ng Cabinet and for that matter all officials of government, are subject to evaluation and assessment of the President relative to the performance of their work,” Panelo said during a Palace press briefing.
Asked if the President can remove Robredo from her post if he is not satisfied with Robredo’s work, Panelo said: “Lahat naman ‘yan puwede. Presidente siya eh [Everything is possible. He is the President].”
“Everybody holds office at the pleasure of the President. All of us know that,” he added.
For now, Panelo said the President has declared support for Robredo and has given her space to implement her own strategy in addressing the drug menace.
He also said it was up to Robredo if she wants to scrap “Oplan Tokhang” and carry out what she believes would be an effective alternative. He maintained that Robredo is “in charge” of the anti-drug campaign.
“If she wants to scrap it, siya ang anti-drug czar. Kung sa tingin niya may mas effective sa Tokhang, eh di gawin niya [If she wants to scrap it, she’s the anti-drug czar. If she thinks there is a more effective strategy than Tokhang, then she should do it],” he said.
“If that will be effective in so far as the drug war is concerned, she’s been given the authority,” he added.
Panelo said the administration will rally behind Robredo and “give all that she needs” to ensure the success of the anti-drug campaign.
“We said we will give all that she needs. As I’ve said she should be given wide latitude and she should pursue her own scheme of things in pursuing the drug war initiated by this administration,” he said.
“The President said, ‘I’ll give everything to her. We will help her,'” he said.
The President however will not necessarily take a hands-off policy in the drug war, according to Panelo.
He said Robredo, as the country’s anti-drug czar, will be the President’s “alter ego.” But he said Duterte will remain accountable for the country, adding “if she fails, the President will also fail.”
Also, Panelo said the President plans to invite Robredo to a meeting following her Cabinet-rank designation as co-chairperson of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD).
He said Robredo may consult or get advice from the President about her initiatives in dealing with the drug problem.
“If she wants to consult the President, the President is always open to consultation to every member of the Cabinet,” he said.
“Everything will be threshed out the moment the two talk,” he added.
On plans of Robredo to talk to the United States and other foreign bodies about the anti-drug campaign, Panelo said they would let the Vice President do her work.
Robredo recently pushed for an end to the “senseless killings” in the drug war as she held her first meeting with the members of ICAD. She hinted about a possible new tack to replace the controversial Oplan Tokhang , saying the anti-drug campaign must be within the bounds of the rule of law.