VP’s ‘missteps’ cost her a Cabinet appointment– Panelo

By Genalyn Kabiling

Vice President Leni Robredo has committed some "missteps" as country's drug czar that prompted President Duterte to decide against appointing her to the Cabinet, Malacañang said Tuesday.

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo; Vice President Leni Robredo  (PCOO / OVP / MANILA BULLETIN) Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo; Vice President Leni Robredo 

Among the "red signs" that raised the concern of the President were Robredo seeking advice from foreign entities critical of the drug war and insisting on getting access to classified information, according to presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo.

"President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, during a recent interview, has expressed his disinclination to appoint Vice President Ma. Leonor "Leni" Robredo to his Cabinet," Panelo said.

"The Vice President talking with, and seeking the advice of certain foreign institutions and personalities that have prejudged the campaign against illegal drugs as a violation of human rights, as well as a crime against humanity, did not sit well with the President. The VP's actions are all documented in mainstream and social media," he said.

Panelo further said: "These missteps not only derailed PRRD's well-meaning intent for the Vice President to be part of the administration, but registered red signs that could not be ignored.”

Robredo's "insistence" on getting access to classified information, added to the President's reconsideration of his earlier desire to appoint her to the Cabinet, according to Panelo.

He noted that revealing such information could imperil the welfare of the Filipino people and the security of the state.

"Her requests for unrestricted data to help her fulfill her role are an admission that the earlier criticisms of the political opposition to which she belongs against the anti-drug operations have no factual basis," he said.

Panelo also maintained that Robredo would not be given access to classified information amid concerns revealing such state secrets would have repercussion.

"Being a member of the Cabinet gives Ms. Robredo unlimited access to sensitive state matters which, if transmitted by her whether purposely or otherwise, could result to adverse consequences, especially since the VP has the tendency to be generous with acquired information and knowledge to others whose predilection may not be in the best interest of the country," he said.

Earlier, the President clarified the designation of Robredo as co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) nearly two weeks after making the appointment.

“She is not a member of the Cabinet. I have not appointed her as a Cabinet member,” the President said in an interview with GMA aired Monday night.

Duterte earlier issued a memorandum designating Robredo as ICAD co-chairperson after lashing out at the Vice President for criticizing the alleged failed drug war. The government post, stated in a memorandum issued on October 31, was eventually accepted by Robredo to seek an end to the "senseless killings" related to the drug war.

The Palace initially claimed that Robredo would serve with a Cabinet rank, adding that she was even welcome to attend the Cabinet meeting if the drug war will be included in the agenda.

The President recently threatened to remove Robredo from her ICAD post if she shared state secrets with foreign individuals and groups.