Booted from drug war, Robredo asks Duterte: 'What do you fear?'

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 25 2019 02:13 PM | Updated as of Nov 26 2019 04:10 AM

President Rodrigo Duterte and Vice President Leni Robredo chat at the sidelines of the 38th Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) Commencement Exercises in Silang, Cavite on March 24, 2017. King Rodriguez, Malacanang Photo/File

Palace: Robredo can do as she pleases

MANILA (2nd UPDATE)—Vice President Leni Robredo on Monday asked President Rodrigo Duterte what he feared she would discover as leader of his anti-narcotics drive, an 18-day stint from which he fired her over the weekend. 

Duterte axed Robredo as co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) after she allegedly used the post for "grandstanding," said Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo. 

"Noong tinanggap ko ang trabahong ito, ang una kong tinanong sa kanila ay, handa na ba kayo sa akin. Ngayon, ang tanong ko, ano bang kinatatakutan n'yo?" Robredo said in her first conference after her removal from ICAD. 

"Ano bang kinatatakutan n'yo na malaman ko, ano bang kinatatakutan n'yo na malaman ng taumbayan?" she added. 

(When I accepted this job, my first question was, 'Are you ready for me?' Now my question is, 'What do you fear?' What do you fear that I and the public will know?) 

Robredo pushed for a community-based rehabilitation that treats drug addiction as a public health issue and not a purely law enforcement problem. 

She also consulted officials from the US and United Nations, which have both expressed alarm over the deaths of thousands of drug addicts under the Duterte administration 

In the next few days, Robredo said she will give a report on what she discovered about the drug war and her recommendations. 

"Kahit tinanggalan ako ng posisyon, hinding-hindi nila kayang tanggalin ang aking determinasyon — determinasyong itigil ang patayan, determinasyong panagutin ang kailangan managot at ipanalo ang kampanya laban sa ilegal na droga," said the Vice President. 

(Even if I was stripped of position, they cannot remove my determination — determination to stop the killings, hold accountable those who were responsible and win the fight against illegal drugs.) 

"Kung sa tingin nila, matatapos ito dito, hindi nila ako kilala. Nagsisimula pa lang ako," she said. 

(If they think it ends here, they don't know me. I'm only starting.)

Sought for comment, Panelo said Robredo was appointed to as ICAD co-chair in the first place to let her know that the drug war is transparent.

"She can do as she pleases. Anything that she claims she has discovered was accessed (sic) to her," he said.

"She was precisely appointed, apart from giving her the opportunity to assist in the campaign against illegal drugs, to let her know that everything in the drug was and is transparent," he added.

'TALK LANG'

Sen. Bong Go, who was then the President's former longtime aide, said the Vice President did not offer any solution to solve the country's narcotics problem.

"Mahigit 2 linggong umupo bilang ICAD co-chair si VP Robredo. Ni isang stratehiya, wala namang inilatag. Pero bilangin n'yo kung ilang beses siyang nagpa-interview at nag-presscon s'ya. Ayaw daw sa TOKHANG dahil ang gusto nya ay TALK LANG," he said in a statement.

"Sinayang n'ya ang panahong iyon, binigyan n'ya ng pahinga ang mga durugista. Mahigit 2 linggong bakasyon ang mga durugista," Go added.

The senator also said a vast majority of Filipinos were satisfied with the government's anti-illegal drugs campaign, citing a survey from a major pollster.

"Ito ang mga kababayan natin na nagsasabing mas ligtas ng umuuwi sa kanilang mga pamamahay matapos ang buong araw na pagtatrabaho," he said.

Human rights groups accuse the police of systematic executions and cover-ups in its drug war, which the government rejects. 

The UN Human Rights Council in July approved a resolution to investigate the Philippines, and the International Criminal Court is conducting a preliminary examination of allegations of crimes against humanity. The government accuses both bodies of bias and interference.-- With a report from Reuters and Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News