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Regional News

‘Anti-drug czar’ Robredo not in Duterte cabinet after all

MANILA (Philippine Star) — Vice President Leni Robredo is not part of the cabinet despite her designation as co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal drugs and despite previous statements from President Rodrigo Duterte and his administration.

Leni Robredo

Duterte over the weekend expressed concern that Robredo may disclose sensitive information discussed during cabinet meetings, noting that she has been talking to various groups since she was named co-chair of ICAD.

“She (Robredo) is not a member of the cabinet. I have not appointed her as a cabinet member. You know why? Early on she was talking right and left that she would talk to this and talk to that. In the cabinet meeting, we talk about what’s happening what if she hears them and spills them? So I did not make her a cabinet member,” Duterte told GMA News.

“She’s not a cabinet (member). I have not signed an appointment designating her as a cabinet (member),” he added.

Last month, Duterte offered the anti-drug czar post to Robredo after the vice president claimed that the government’s crackdown on narcotics should be reviewed and “tweaked.” Robredo, who is an opposition leader, accepted the offer and vowed to put an end to what she described as “senseless killings” in the controversial campaign.

Speaking to reporters in Davao City last October 31, Duterte said Robredo should have a cabinet rank if she becomes “anti-drug czar,” a designation that does not really exist.

“If I would take her in as the drug czar, I will have to first make her a cabinet member. Then I will give her the marching orders and the specific functions. All in connection with drugs, hers,” he said in a press conference at a Catholic cemetery in Davao City.

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo had also issued statements stating that Robredo would be given a cabinet-rank post if she accepts the president’s offer.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said Robredo could still perform her functions even if she is not a member of the Cabinet.

“As co-chair of ICAD she’s already been calling meetings with anti-drug agencies and she’s been functioning as co-chair and agencies are giving her support,” Nograles said in a phone patch interview on Monday.

“I think that’s sufficient and the fact that she is able to call meetings means that she’s already doing her job as chair ng ICAD,” he added.