MANILA (UPDATE) - Malacañang on Wednesday welcomed back Vice President Leni Robredo to the Cabinet after she accepted her appointment as co-chair of the government's anti-narcotics drive committee.
"Her acceptance shows she is smarter than her colleagues in the opposition who do not want her to succeed in serving the people. She is finally her own person," Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.
"She is much better off listening to her own instincts as a mother and a lawyer."
Robredo accepted her appointment as co-chair of the inter-agency committee on anti-illegal drugs (ICAD) despite warnings of some allies.
"Kung ito ang pagkakataon para matigil ang patayan ng mga inosente at mapanagot ang kailangan managot, papasanin ko ito kaya tinatanggap ko ang trabahong ibinibigay sa akin ng Pangulo," Robredo told reporters.
(If this is the chance to stop the slay of innocent people and hold those responsible accountable, I will shoulder this. I am accepting the job being given to me by the President.)
Panelo earlier said Duterte's offer came with a cabinet secretary portfolio and a promise that Robredo would be in-charge of all agencies involved in the implementation of anti-illegal drug laws under her command.
"We will give all the support being a member of the Cabinet, it behooves all of us to help each other," he said Wednesday.
"Her success will be our success and her failure will be our failure. I don’t think we would want that."
Robredo said she would go after drug bigwigs, policemen who allegedly resold seized narcotics, and officials who smuggled in tons of shabu into the country.
"Tinatanong nila ako kung handa ba ako para sa trabahong ito. Ang tanong ko: handa ba kayo para sa akin?" the Vice President said.
(They ask me if I'm ready for this job. My question is: are you ready for me.)
Panelo said Palace has always been ready for Robredo, "that's why she was given the position."
"I think that’s common sense. I think you offered and you gave, that means the appointing power is of the belief that the person being appointed is capable of doing the job," he said.
Robredo also told President Rodrigo Duterte that it was "not too late" to work together in resolving the country's drug problem.
The Vice President, who used to be Duterte's housing secretary, has a frosty relationship with the chief executive as they are usually at odds over several policies and issues.
Last month, Robredo called on Duterte to allow the United Nations to investigate his war on drugs which she said was “obviously, not working," which prompted Malacañang's challenge to her to lead the anti-narcotics campaign.
She later clarified that she meant to urge administration leaders to "step back and assess" the narcotics crackdown.
-- With reports from Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News