THE presidential palace yesterday hit back at Vice President Maria Leonor G. Robredo and her ally, former President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” C. Aquino III, who had criticized President Rodrigo R. Duterte for putting her in charge of his deadly war on drugs even if he did not trust her.
“Trust is earned,” presidential spokesman Salvador S. Panelo said in a statement, after the president said she could jeopardize the nation by revealing classified information about the anti-illegal drug campaign.
The opposition leader should understand that her election to the vice presidency does not automatically make her trustworthy, he said.
“Trust comes into play only as regards the non-transmission of state secrets that imperils the safety of the Filipino people and the sovereignty of the country,” Mr. Panelo said.
“Since she will not be given access to privileged communication, she should not be bothered by the expressed lack of trust by the appointing power with respect to the confidentiality of state matters requiring secrecy,” he added.
Philippine police have said they have killed about 6,000 people in illegal drug raids, many of them resisting arrest. Some local nongovernmental organizations and the national Commission on Human Rights have placed the death toll at more than 27,000.
Also yesterday, Senator Panfilo M. Lacson said denying the vice president access to classified information was a “guaranteed formula for failure.”
“Responsibility without commensurate authority — that is a formula for failure,” Mr. Lacson, a former police chief, told reporters.
Ms. Robredo this month said she had agreed to head the Duterte administration’s anti-illegal drug campaign, if only to stop the killings. She accepted the post against the advice of many of her party mates, who said the appointment might be a trap.
The opposition leader has vowed to enforce the state’s anti-illegal drug campaign within the bounds of the law. She said she would treat the drug problem not only as a crime, but also as a health issue.
Mr. Panelo earlier welcomed Ms. Robredo back to the Cabinet but later retracted after she sought records and intelligence information on the drug war.
Since accepting the post, Ms. Robredo has met with US Embassy and United Nations officials to discuss the drug war, which majority of Filipinos support even if it has drawn international criticism.
The vice president has repeatedly cited the need to re-assess the government strategy against illegal drugs given the rising number of drug dependents. — Gillian M. Cortez and CAT