Duterte to fire Robredo if she helps probes vs drug war

MANILA, Philippines – After appointing her to a top advisory position in the anti-illegal drugs campaign and permitting her to overhaul the police's controversial Oplan Tokhang, President Rodrigo Duterte drew the first line that Vice President and now Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) co-chair Leni Robredo could not cross: aiding probes that are against him.

"There are certain matters that should be kept with the government, that classified matters cannot be shared. Once [she does] that, she's out, I would fire her. Because you jeopardized the security of the state," President Rodrigo Duterte said in an interview with GMA News on Saturday, November 16.

Malacañang expounded on the President's statement come Sunday, saying that "disclosing classified information of the Philippine Government to foreign individuals and entities will cause the removal of the Vice President from her current post."

Why this matters. The back-to-back statements are an unequivocal reminder to Robredo that while she was promised elbow room to reform the popular but bloody "drug war", her new position's leash continued to be tied to the Office of the President.

"The President precisely made that statement predicated on VP Leni’s demanding access to all documents inclusive of classified data related to the government’s program on the illegal drug trade including its funding as well as inviting even UN personalities who have described the country as a murderous country and who have called for the arrest of PRRD (President Duterte)," Malacañang said.

The latest statements support earlier aired fears that Robredo's appointment to the ICAD was a trick that had set up the Vice President and opposition standard-bearer to fail despite her seemingly earnest intention to slash down killings in the campaign.

What classified information? Duterte's revulsion in sharing drug war information—be it numbers, intelligence information, or the memorandum circulars that give it basis—is nothing new.

Under Duterte's orders, law enforcement agencies have been depriving most of these documents from independent human rights and lawyer groups, even from the constitutionally established Commission on Human Rights (CHR). (READ: Evading probes? The many times Duterte admin didn't give drug war documents)

The only wholesale sharing of documents was made possible under an order of the Supreme Court as it tackles the constitutionality of Duterte's anti-drug campaign.

The documents were shared with lawyers groups Center for International Law (CenterLaw) and Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG). These documents could not be shared publicly, however, because the case is still being tackled by the Supreme Court. – Rappler.com

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

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