Leni: What are they afraid of?

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    WAS she getting in the way of some people who have high stake in the drug war?

    Vice President Leni Robredo yesterday raised the question after Malacañang announced she has been fired as co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD), a position that she held only for almost three weeks.

    “Kung pareho naman ang ating layunin, bakit hindi na lang tayo magtulungan? Hindi ba talaga sila seryoso sa laban? O may interes ba tayong nabangga? (If we have the same goals, why can’t we just help each other? Aren’t they really serious in this war? Or was I getting on the way of some people’s interests?)” Robredo said.

    Robredo likewise boldly said: “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 ninyo? Ano ba ang kinatatakutan ninyong malaman ko? Ano ba ang kinatatakutan ninyong malaman ng taumbayan? (When I first accepted this job, my first question was: Are you ready for me? Now, my question is: What are you so afraid of? What is it that you’re afraid that I might stumble upon? What are you afraid that the people would know of?),” Robredo told a press conference in Camarines Sur.

    The President named Robredo as ICAD co-chairman last October 31 but only released the memorandum order pertaining to her designation on November 5. The Vice President accepted the post on November 6.

    Robredo warned the administration that she was not one to back down from a good fight, saying “she’s just getting started.”

    “Kung sa tingin nila matatapos ito dito, hindi nila ako kilala. Nagsisimula pa lamang ako (If they think it’s going to end here, then they don’t know me. I’m just getting started),” she said.

    Robredo promised to make a report to the public on her “discoveries” about the government’s war against illegal drugs and give her recommendations on how to improve the campaign.

    “Makakaasa kayo: kahit tinanggalan ako ng posisyon, hinding-hindi nila kayang tanggalin ang aking determinasyon (Rest assured that even if I was stripped of my position, they can never ever dampen my determination),” she said.

    Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, in a statement last night, said Robredo’s “services” as ICAD co-chair was being terminated “in response to the suggestion of Liberal Party president Sen. 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.”

    The reports and Panelo’s statement came hours after Robredo said in her weekly radio program that President Duterte will have to fire her because she has no plans of resigning as ICAD co-chair and that only the President has the authority to fire her.

    “Mr. President, hindi ko hiningi ang posisyong ito. Pero sineryoso ko ang trabahong ipinasa ninyo. Ang hiling ng taumbayan: isang gobyernong tunay na kampeon laban sa iligal na droga. (Mr. President, I never asked for this position but I took the job seriously. The people’s wish is to have a government that will truly be a champion against illegal drugs),” Robredo said.

    The Vice President reminded the President and his subordinates that she is not the enemy but the drug lords.

    “Alalahanin natin na ang droga at mga drug lord ang kalaban – hindi ako, at lalong hindi ang taumbayan (Let’s be reminded that illegal drugs and the drug lords are the enemies – not me and not the people),” she said.

    Robredo said she has been subjected to a relentless vilification campaign right from the day she accepted the post when her only goal was to help in the campaign against drugs and prevent unnecessary bloodshed.

    “Pero nagsimula agad ang mga atake. Walang tigil ang pagbabatikos. Mahina raw ako sa krimen. Huwag daw akong makialam sa pulis. Hindi raw ako mapagkakatiwalaan.

    Pinagtulung-tulungan at pinagkaisahan ako para hindi magtagumpay (The attacks immediately came. The criticisms were never ending. They say I’m too weak to fight crime and that I should not meddle in police work. They say I can’t be trusted. They ganged up on me to ensure that I won’t succeed),” she said.

    ‘GRANDSTANDING’

    Malacañang is unfazed by Robredo’s statement that she will make a report to the nation about what she had discovered as well as make some recommendations in connection with the drug war of the Duterte administration.

    Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, concurrent presidential spokesman, said Robredo can do whatever she wants.

    “She can do as she pleases. Anything that she claims she has discovered was accessed to her,” Panelo said in a message to media.

    Panelo reiterated Robredo was fired for being incompetent and for lacking a clear program to improve the campaign against illegal drugs.

    “She was fired for incompetence, in addition to her failure to introduce new measures she claimed she had, as against what she claimed to be ineffective method in fighting the drug menace. Tinimbang siya ngunit kulang (She was weighed but found lacking),” he said.

    In an interview by radio DzBB, Panelo said there was no need to come up with a letter to inform Robredo that she had been removed from ICAD or is there a need for a memorandum to formalize her removal.

    He said all appointees served at the pleasure of the President and a public announcement is enough.

    In an interview over ANC’s Headstart, Panelo said the President had observed that Robredo merely went on grandstanding instead of coming out with a concrete program to address the drug problem.

    He added that instead of seeking an audience with Duterte to discuss what was expected of her, she opted to talk and listen to other personalities and groups, including those that had been critical of the administration.

    “Let me quote the President. The President said last night to me, ‘she was just grandstanding.’ She could have just come to Malacañang. You know, everybody goes to Malacañang, persons of no authority, ordinary people, we entertain them. She is the Vice President, she certainly is welcome,” Panelo said.

    “It is not the President going to you; it is the appointee going to the appointing power. But she never did. She only did that after the President has already made some remarks,” he added.

    Panelo claimed the Vice President “had it coming” due to missteps she made following her appointment, including talking to foreign groups or personalities about the drug war and her “dare” for the President to fire her.

    He said Robredo also failed to talk to the masses about the anti-drug drive.

    “She should’ve gone to the grassroots, she should’ve gone to the communities, talked with the people, know their problems on drugs,” he said. – With Jocelyn Montemayor