MANILA- Malacañang on Thursday hit back at Vice President Leni Robredo and her ally, former President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, who had questioned President Rodrigo Duterte's appointment if he did not trust her in the first place.
"Trust is earned. The missteps of the vice president did not inspire confidence in the matter of keeping to oneself classified information," Duterte's spokesman Salvador Panelo said.
"Trust comes into play only as regards the non-transmission of state secrets that imperils the safety of the Filipino people and the sovereignty of the country," Panelo added.
The President earlier admitted that he could not trust Robredo after the latter supposedly made "missteps" in her first 2 weeks as co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD).
Both Robredo and Aquino belong to the opposition Liberal Party.
A "puzzled" Robredo earlier said the President should just tell her straight if he wanted to revoke her appointment.
Aquino meanwhile said trust is an important factor in appointing a person to a government post.
"Pwede ba 'yung itatalaga mo pero hindi mo pagkakatiwalaan? Medyo magulo yata," he told reporters.
(Is it possible to appoint someone but you do not trust them? That seems confusing.)
But Panelo reminded Aquino that the country's drug problem supposedly worsened during his administration, urging the former chief executive to focus on other things instead.
"As for former President Aquino, he is better off focusing on his case pending before the Sandiganbayan, as well as taking care of his health, than touching on a matter related to the dreaded drug menace that he never gave the attention and importance it deserves during his 6-year presidency," Panelo said.
"Lest we forget, the drug problem ballooned in magnitude in his time, obviously due to his neglect in countering this evil that is putting this country into the precipice of a generational destruction," he claimed.
As for Robredo, the Duterte spokesman assured her that she should not be bothered by the President's lack of trust in her since she was appointed to help solve the country's illegal drug problem, and not to acquire confidential state matters.
"[S]he is tasked to help end the illegal drug trade in the country and not to get secret information of the government to share the same with her foreign and local peers," Panelo said.
The President on Tuesday explained that Robredo's actions after she was appointed as drug czar did not "inspire" him to give her a Cabinet post, adding she can "jeopardize" the republic.