Sensitive info on drug war safe with me–Leni Robredo
MANILA, Philippines — Sensitive information is safe in her hands, Vice President Leni Robredo assured President Duterte amid reluctance from his men to provide her with a list of high-value drug targets.
“The assurance is all sensitive information would not be disclosed,” Robredo told reporters in the Senate, following the chamber’s approval of her office’s P664.88-million budget all in less than a minute.
Robredo’s ally in the opposition, Sen. Francis Pangilinan, said that if administration officials wanted proper cooperation in the war on drugs, they should be able to share information with her.
Pangilinan also said there was no need for Robredo to be told what to do since she knew how to handle classified material.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson said Mr. Duterte’s threat to Robredo was “fair warning.”
“Nobody, not even the second highest official of the land, should be allowed to share with anybody, much less a foreign country, classified information that could compromise national security,” Lacson said.
But he also said he was sure the Vice President was aware of basic rules on how to handle classified material.
Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency chief Aaron Aquino, who is Robredo’s cochair in the Interagency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (Icad), had earlier questioned Robredo’s request.
Mr. Duterte himself had warned that he would fire Robredo if she shared classified material and thus endangered state security.
Lacson on Saturday said Robredo should be given access to drug information so that she could formulate policies.
The Philippine National Police officer in charge, Lt. Gen. Archie Gamboa, maintained on Monday that he saw no need for Robredo to find out who were the high-value targets in the drug war.
“Fine, if you want to review the law enforcement campaign … would it really matter if you know who are on the list?” Gamboa told reporters on Monday.
In a statement, Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers said, “There is no need for VP Leni to have a copy of the list … as it is classified information and must only be accessible to personalities with security clearance.”
“Should the list fall [in] the wrong hands, it might compromise the investigation done on these people and jeopardize the success of the antidrug campaign, or worse, pose a threat to national security,” said the congressman, who heads the dangerous drugs panel at the House of Representatives.
Meanwhile, an official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said the kind of role it would play in the antidrug campaign, as sought by Robredo, should first be clarified.
“Clarity of roles is important so as not to defeat the purpose of stomping out illegal drugs in our midst,” Fr. Jerome Secillano, the CBCP Public Affairs Committee executive secretary, told reporters.
“It’s wise for VP Leni to ask the help of everyone who she deems capable of effectively addressing the drug menace,” Secillano also said.—WITH REPORTS FROM DJ YAP, JEANNETTE I. ANDRADE AND TINA G. SANTOS
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