MANILA (UPDATE)—President Rodrigo Duterte said Tuesday night he wanted to set "parameters" on Vice President Leni Robredo’s role as "drug czar," adding the latter can "jeopardize" the republic.
"Need-to-know lang siya... If she asks something then you give her the half of it. The other half, if it's a classified information, there is no need for her to know," he said in a press briefing in Malacañang Palace.
The President said he was neither "firing" nor revoking Robredo's appointment as co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD), but decided to forego giving her a Cabinet post.
"I never said I'm firing her. I said I decided not to appoint her as a Cabinet member because I think I will jeopardize 'yong situation, including records classified, which are secrets. Tawag nila diyan ay state secrets that includes everything from sensitive matters with our relations with China, then with the United States," he said.
Robredo’s consultations with foreign organizations, such as the United Nations, and "the way her mouth behaved" following her Oct. 31 appointment as co-chair of ICAD did not sit well with him, according to Duterte. He deemed it grandstanding.
"In the first place actually, what she should have done and understand is to give the direction and the guidance, and of course instruct the law enforcement agencies to make it more transparent to her liking... make it more transparent for the people," he said.
As the country’s second highest official, Duterte said Robredo could have been his "alter ego" in the Cabinet.
"Ang problema kasi dito, I can't trust her, not only because she is with the opposition, I don't trust her because I don't know her," he said.
He claimed that the "biggest drug manufacturing apparatus" was found in Bicol, where Robredo hails from.
"She's with the opposition and she would be attending Cabinet meetings. In that Cabinet meetings, we discuss day-to-day matters. We discussed security matters. We discussed critical issues. Ngayon kung siya nandiyan, hindi ko man talaga siya kilala. And the way she behaved right after I appointed her, [it] does not inspire. It's not inspiring, Natakot tuloy ako," he added.
CABINET OR NOT
Robredo earlier said she would continue to fulfill her duties as co-chair of the country's anti-drug committee.
"Hindi ko na problema kung 'di pa sila nagkakasundo sa role ko. Basta sa'kin, lahat na puwede kong gawin, gagawin ko," she told reporters.
The Vice President was puzzled why her meetings with officials from the United States and UN irked Duterte.
"Hindi ko naiintindihan kung bakit [sila] nababahala. Alam naman natin 'yon source ng droga is transnational. Hindi natin kaya i-constrict 'yon supply. Kaya napakahalaga 'yon partnership natin with other governments," she said.
Robredo also questioned Duterte's motive for appointing her if he don't trust her.
"Kung wala silang tiwala, bakit nila ako dinesignate? Kung pagkakait nila 'yon information, nasa sa kanila 'yon," she said.—With a report from Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News