MANILA - (UPDATE) President Rodrigo Duterte has fired Vice President Leni Robredo from her post as co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD), Malacañang confirmed on Sunday.
The news was first confirmed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea Sunday night in a text message to members of the Malacanang Press Corps.
Palace Spokesman Salvador Panelo later issued a statement saying Robredo was being removed from her post "in response to the suggestion of Liberal Party President, Senator Francis Pangilinan, to just fire the Vice President from her post."
"This is also in response to the taunt and dare of VP Robredo for the President to just tell her that he wants her out," Panelo said.
The palace spokesman said Robredo's appointment to ICAD "was an offer to make the campaign against illegal drugs better."
"Unfortunately, she wasted such opportunity and used the same as a platform to attack the methods undertaken by this Administration," he said.
Robredo's sacking comes just over two weeks after the Vice President was appointed to the anti-drug body.
It was also announced just a day after Duterte apologized to her for assuming that she had invited United Nations probers to look into his campaign against illegal drugs.
Panelo, however, denied that Duterte apologized, saying the President ordered Robredo's firing.
"I am firing her right now...sabi niya hindi apology yan. Sorry lang kung false news yan," Panelo quoted Duterte as saying.
The spokesman criticized Robredo for talking to officials of the United Nations and the United States embassy "who remain out-of-touch from the realities of the local drug problem on the ground."
Both the UN and the US have criticized the Duterte administration's anti-narcotics campaign.
While Robredo's camp has said that her duties as ICAD co-chair were unclear, Panelo said "the Vice President [has] ample authority and powers to direct all responsible government instrumentalities to act in accordance with the strategic objectives that she might have had in mind, in line with putting an end to the drug menace in our country."
"Further, given the transparency of her motive to politicize the issue, the intention of the Vice President to seek access to confidential law enforcement information can not be given the benefit of the doubt as being free from malice or manipulation," Panelo added.
Despite appointing her as ICAD co-chair, Duterte has said that he does not trust Robredo.
Duterte said he has reservations on sharing classified state matters with Robredo even as he expects the latter to help solve the country’s illegal drug problem.
Robredo has been a staunch critic of how the Duterte administration has been conducting its campaign against illegal drugs.
Many were thus surprised when Duterte asked Robredo to become co-chair of ICAD. Robredo's acceptance of the position also surprised many, including her own allies.
As of posting, the Vice President has yet to comment on her dismissal from the anti-drug body.
- With a report from Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News