MANILA — Vice President Leni Robredo has “zero credibility and competence” to speak about the Duterte administration’s crackdown on illegal drugs, Malacañang said on Monday.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made this remark after Robredo accepted House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano’s invitation to appear before a congressional hearing on her 40-page report that contains findings and recommendations on the government’s drug war.
Panelo, in a statement, said the Palace will not interfere with Cayetano’s decision to invite resource persons in congressional hearings.
He emphasized that congressional hearings are conducted in aid of legislation, a function which belongs to the Legislative and not the Executive Branch.
“It is the call of the House of Representatives if it feels that Vice President Ma. Leonor Robredo and her report as former Co-Chairperson of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) will enlighten them,” Panelo said.
“As far as the Office of the President is concerned, however, Ms. Robredo has zero credibility and competence with respect to the government’s war on drugs,” he added.
In a radio interview, Robredo, former co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD), said being invited would give her the opportunity to debunk accusations against her.
Panelo noted that Robredo’s 18-day stint at ICAD would not allow her to make an “objective and credible analysis” of the administration’s anti-illegal narcotics campaign.
He also pointed out that Robredo’s proposal was to “throw dirt” at the gains of this administration in combatting the drug trade.
The Palace official reiterated that the Vice President was simply desperate to be “politically relevant”.
Instead of criticizing, Panelo said Robredo should have instead compared the Duterte administration’s achievements to accomplishments during the previous administrations.
“What should be juxtaposed are the present achievements of the President with those, if any, of previous administrations. The latter may not even reach a significant fraction of 1 percent, using her untenable formula to criticize the drug war,” Panelo said.
Quoting the President, Panelo described Robredo as a “colossal blunder”.
“Listening to her perorations about a matter she knows nothing about will be another herculean blunder. It is a useless exercise and a waste of time,” Panelo said.
In presenting her proposal last week, Robredo claimed anew that the Duterte administration’s crackdown on illegal drugs is a “failure” because authorities have seized less than one percent of shabu since 2016.
Panelo dismissed Robredo’s findings and recommendations on the illegal drugs campaign as “a dud” for implying that her findings contained irregularities she was about to expose when in fact there was clearly nothing new about her report.
He, however, said this did not immediately mean that the drug campaign is a failure but that there is more work to do.
“It doesn’t mean na (that) failure kahit na (even if it’s just) one percent,” he added, stressing that Robredo failed to see the drug war’s many accomplishments such as having dismantled illegal drug factories, caused the surrender of drug addicts and pushers, and the neutralization of high-value target drug suspects.
He said Robredo also failed to see the thousands of dysfunctional families by reason of the drug syndicate and only focused on families who have lost loved ones involved in the illegal drug trade.
On Jan. 7, Duterte turned the tables on Robredo, saying the latter failed to make an accomplishment during her brief stint as ICAD co-chair.
He said Robredo has no right to lecture him when it comes to his way of handling the drug problem in the country.
“You know for all of these years, she has done nothing. She is a colossal blunder,” he said in an interview with Palace reporters on the sidelines of an event at Malacañan Palace. “You know, as a lawyer, lecturing on me, well, she should revisit her record, I suggest.”
Robredo was appointed as co-chair at ICAD on Oct. 31 to help Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Aaron Aquino in efforts to curb the drug menace.
She was fired over two weeks later due to alleged “missteps” such as meeting with foreign personalities and groups that have prejudged the drug war and failing to present new measures in curbing the drug proliferation in the country. Azer Parrocha /PNA – northboundasia.com