Palace to Robredo camp: Ditch excuses on appointment to committee vs illegal drugs
MANILA, Philippines – The camp of Vice President Leni Robredo should stop making “excuses and demands” and let the opposition stalwart accept President Rodrigo Duterte’s offer to rejoin his Cabinet, Malacañang said Wednesday.
Duterte has appointed Robredo co-chairperson of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) days after he offered her to be his drug czar.
Robredo’s spokesman, Barry Gutierrez, however, said the “position is nonexistent and has no power.”
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo disagreed with Gutierrez.
“We hate to educate a member of the bar but obviously the agent of the principal needs to brush up his law,” Panelo said in a statement.
“It is a basic legal doctrine that the President, as the sole repository of executive power, has the exclusive and awesome prerogative of control over all offices and officials in the Executive Branch,” he added.
Panelo, who is also Duterte’s chief legal counsel, cited that the President “has the inherent continuing authority to create positions and items, as well as to reorganize instrumentalities, within the bureaucracy.”
“In the face of a challenge to offer meaningful public service, the camp of VP Leni has been hewing and dodging, giving all sorts of excuses and demands,” he said.
“We would like to think that they do not come from VP Leni herself but from her advisers who apparently would not want her to succeed in serving the people,” he added.
Panelo advised Robredo to reflect and give the matter careful thought.”
“Sleep over it. The challenge of meaningful public service necessarily involves a huge burden,” he said.
“We do not believe that the Vice President is incapable of rising up to the challenge and doing justice to the trust reposed upon her by Filipino people, unless of course, she proves us wrong by declining the appointment,” he added.
Robredo earlier said the government’s brutal war on drugs, which has killed at least 5,000 mostly poor Filipinos, is a failure.
But Panelo said “the President’s campaign against illegal drugs is far from being a failure or ineffective” as cited by Robredo.
He pointed out that the Duterte administration “has unearthed the magnitude and gravity of the drug menace and the administration is vigorously addressing it, achieving results no previous administration was able to accomplish.”
“In offering and appointing VP Leni as drug czar, the President is simply being open to suggestions from a critic of the drug war. [Duterte] believes that there is no better person who can implement such suggestions than the person making them,” he said.
Panelo said Robredo is again welcome to join the Cabinet, prodding her to accept the position.
“It is a golden opportunity worth taking. This is her moment. She should seize it. Destiny beckons. History awaits her,” he said./gsg
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