By Genalyn Kabiling
Nearly a month since he put her in charge of the government’s drug war, President Duterte said he has not yet seen Vice President Leni Robredo perform her job as co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Illegal Drugs.
The President has suggested to Robredo to read the executive issuance that created the ICAD to know the scope of her job.
“Insofar as what she is doing now, that is not very clear to me,” Duterte said in a media interview in Davao City last Saturday.
“Kanya-kanyang assessment ‘yan [Ako, hindi pa siya nagta-trabaho talaga nang husto [Each has his own assessment. For me, she has not really worked]. I have yet to see the Vice President working as an ICAD co-chair, and there is a product of their discussion,” he added.
The President asserted that Robredo could still perform her job as anti-drug czar even if he doesn’t trust her. He explained that his trust was “not transferable” to Robredo simply because she belongs to the opposition bloc.
Duterte said if she really wanted to work, her job description is found in Executive Order No. 15 that created the ICAD in 2017.
“I appointed her. She wants to work? She needs to know what is the description of her work. It is in the job description. It is found in executive law creating the ICAD,” he said.
“She would be asking for the job description. It’s there in the law, it’s there in the executive order creating itong ICAD. Nandiyan ‘yan. So basahin lang niya ‘yan [It’s all there so she should just read it],” he added.
Under the EO, the ICAD is mandated to ensure the member agencies will implement and comply with all policies, laws and issuances pertaining to the government’s anti-illegal drug campaign in an integrated and synchronized manner.
President Duterte earlier said he would not appoint Robredo to his Cabinet because he did not trust her.
But he made clear that he was not firing Robredo but would set the parameters of her job as ICAD co-chair, including limiting her access to state information to need-to-know basis.
Robredo later said Duterte should directly tell her if he wanted to revoke her appointment as ICAD co-chair. But for meantime, Robredo decided to stay in her post and wrote to Duterte about the job.
After Duterte admitted he didn’t trust Robredo, some lawmakers suspected that the President has hinted that he wanted her out.
But in the media interview over the weekend, the President said while she does not trust the opposition leader, he was “happy” that Robredo serves as the vice president.
“Yung pagka-Bise Presidente mo, it’s noble, and I’m happy that you are there kasi kilala ko ‘yung asawa mo, hindi ikaw [I know her husband, no her],” he added.
He recalled that he and Robredo were among those who campaigned for then presidential candidate Benigno Aquino III. “Nagkampanya kami kay Aquino for the simple reason that the mother of Aquino appointed me once upon a time the vice mayor OIC of Davao City,” he said.
But the President said he could not trust Robredo to join the Cabinet since they belong to different political camps.
“No, that is not transferable. Hindi kami magka-partido [We are not partymates),” he said.
Duterte is also concerned that classified information and other matters discussed in Cabinet might be used by the opposition to advance their political interests in the run-up to the 2022 elections.
“Kung sabihin mo na she will ask the paper, examine and all of these things, so there is what you would call the need to know. Is there a need for you, Leni, to know everything? I don’t think it’s good,” he said.