MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Opposition lawmakers on Sunday, November 24, blasted President Rodrigo Duterte's decision to fire Vice President Leni Robredo as co-chairperson of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD).
They expressed no surprise about the development, and maintained their criticism of the Duterte administration's "war on drugs."
"Hindi nakakapagtaka o nakakagulat. Simula pa lang, alam na natin ang tunay na intensiyon ng gobyernong ito (It isn't surprising. From the start, we already knew the true intention of this government)," said Senator Risa Hontiveros.
"When Vice President Robredo called their bluff, they got snared in their own trap. The Duterte government blinked and lost. VP Robredo won."
Senator Francis Pangilinan, president of the Liberal Party (LP) which Robredo chairs, said the Vice President's removal from the ICAD proves that "both the war on drugs and [Robredo's] appointment...are bluff and bluster."
He added that the government's "scheme to make VP Leni look weak backfired."
"Pinatunayan din nitong pagtanggal kay VP Leni na wala silang isang salita. Sa katunayan, 'yung palpak na war on drugs ginawa nilang war on VP," Pangilinan continued.
In explaining Robredo's exit, Malacañang said they just responded to Pangilinan's suggestion to just fire her already. The senator called this "a desperate attempt at blaming others for the mess they themselves created."
LP vice president for external affairs and former congressman Erin Tañada said Malacañang only used Robredo's post to criticize the Vice President.
"Kahit ano pa ang gawing palusot ng Palasyo, isa lang ang malinaw: Hindi pa sila talaga handa kay VP Leni at sa kanyang determinasyon na resolbahin ang problema sa ilegal na droga sa bansa," Tañada said in a statement on Monday, November 25.
(No matter what excuse the Palace comes up with, one thing is clear: They're really not ready for VP Leni and her determination to resolve the problem of illegal drugs in the country.)
Robredo stayed as ICAD co-chair only for a little over two weeks. She accepted the post on November 6.
Since then, she had faced numerous obstacles, prompting her to ask for clarification on the scope and limits of her assignment.
"Not shocking, not surprising, not unexpected. Boring, actually. The more exciting question is, between PRRD (President Rodrigo Roa Duterte) and VP Robredo, guess who's laughing now?"
Not shocking, not surprising, not unexpected. Boring, actually. The more exciting question is, between PRRD and VP Robredo, guess who’s laughing now? — PING LACSON (@iampinglacson) November 24, 2019
'Set up to fail'
For his part, Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate said Robredo's firing was "bound to happen," adding that the government's campaign against illegal drugs "is truly a sham."
"From day one of her appointment up until she was fired, she was already a threat to the Duterte administration's bloody yet fake drug campaign," Zarate said. "Her continued stay will only further unmask the fact that the drug problem is still worsening."
Albay 1st District Representative Edcel Lagman added that Robredo was "set up to fail" by the Duterte administration.
"The mistake of Vice President Leni Robredo is that she took her role as anti-drug czar very seriously while President Rodrigo Duterte considered her appointment as a flippant joke and an off-the-cuff reaction to her criticisms on his bloody war against drugs," said Lagman.
"The President cannot allow Robredo to succeed in his centerpiece program of a violent anti-narcotics drive where he himself has dismally failed." – Rappler.com