Malacañang backtracks, says Robredo's ICAD post not part of Cabinet

MANILA, Philippines – After first offering Vice President Leni Robredo a Cabinet position to take charge of all anti-illegal drug programs, Malacañang backtracked, claiming Robredo's new post as co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) was not Cabinet-level.

"The post she was appointed to is not a Cabinet level [position]. The discretion to appoint her as a member of the Cabinet, in addition to her appointment as the anti-illegal drug czar, lies with the President," Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said on Monday, November 18.

The latest statement is a departure from President Rodrigo Duterte's previous promise to make Robredo a Cabinet member. Panelo had earlier told reporters that the position offered was a Cabinet post, though it was unclear what this would be. Nowhere in the memorandum naming Robredo as ICAD co-chair was it stated her designation was a Cabinet-level post.

Why this matters. From the very beginning, Robredo's appointment by the President had undefined powers. Her role as ICAD co-chair was created by a memorandum, which put her under the direct oversight of the Office of the President.

Since accepting the post assigned to her as a dare last October 31, Malacañang's statements have changed from allowing Robredo to overhaul the goverment's anti-illegal drug campaign to requiring she first seek Duterte's approval. (READ: 5 fatal obstacles in Robredo’s target of a deathless drug war)

Malacañang's latest statement supports fears of an expected turnaround by Duterte, who wanted Robredo as part of ICAD to silence critics.

Duterte's threat: The President earlier threatened to fire Robredo after he made it clear she could not aid investigations that are against him.

Malacañang echoed this on Sunday, November 17, 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." –


Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs, the overseas Filipino workers, and elections. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter @sofiatomacruz. Email her at