"She blew it."
This is how Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo described President Rodrigo Duterte's decision to fire Vice-President Leni Robredo Sunday, November 24, less than a month after appointing her co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs.
Speaking to reporters, Panelo said Duterte was merely "calling Robredo's dare" to fire her after the President said he does not trust the Vice-President even after the appointment.
"She was daring the President to fire her...It is the Vice-President Leni asking the president to fire her...The President is calling the dare," he told reporters.
He said the President also made the decision after Senator Francis Pangilinan said Duterte should just fire Robredo instead of insulting her for talking to US officials for a possible collaboration on the country’s campaign against illegal drugs.
In his press briefing, Panelo denied that the Palace was unprepared for Robredo's decision to accept Duterte's offer to co-chair the ICAD.
Robredo earlier said she is accepting the post since it would give her a chance to stop the killing of innocent people in the war on drugs.
"Ang pinakamahalagang konsiderasyon para sa akin ay simple lang: 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.
Instead, Panelo criticized Robredo for not making use of the rare opportunity given her to talk to the President and present her plan on how to solve the problem of illegal drugs.
He said that instead of criticizing the war on drugs, the Vice President should have just presented an alternative that would win the war on drugs.
"Dapat on the first day, she should have sought an audience with the President...Iba yung outlook nung nasa loob kesa nasa loob," he said.
"Meron na siya pagkakataon, she blew it," he added.
The Vice President has said she would go after drug bigwigs, policemen who allegedly resold seized narcotics, and officials who smuggled tons of shabu into the country.
She earlier requested for a list of the top drug suspects in the country, but was denied by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) director-general who said having a list of high-value targets is beyond the vice president's mandate.
In the press briefing, Panelo denied that the President apologized to Robredo after he assumed that she had invited United Nations probers to look into his campaign against illegal drugs as co-chair of the administration's anti-narcotics body.
Panelo said that he talked to Duterte personally about the apology, and it was during their conversation that the President decided to fire the Vice President.