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Bacolod City, Philippines Monday, November 25, 2019
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‘Duterte’s firing Leni, no surprise’


President Rodrigo Duterte’s firing of Vice President Leni Robredo as co-chairperson of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs yesterday comes as no surprise, Bacolod Bishop Patricio Buzon and former Negros Occidental Gov. Rafael Coscolluela said.

“I saw it coming all along. Leni has finally got her answer as to whether the administration would be ready for her,” Buzon said.

“They have grossly underestimated her and now she has become a threat and an embarrassment to the administration. It just shows that the administration is not as sincere and serious in solving the drug problem as Leni is,” the bishop said.

Coscolluela said it is “not surprising but a very poor reflection on the quality of thinking coming out of Malacañang.”

“But who knows? He (Duterte) might change his tune again tomorrow,” Coscolluela added.

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea yesterday confirmed Duterte’s decision to axe Robredo as drug czar.

Duterte fired Robredo from her post as overseer of his deadly drug war yesterday, just days after calling her a “scatterbrain” not to be trusted with state secrets.

Robredo, 54, lasted less than three weeks as head of Duterte's signature anti-narcotics campaign, which she vowed to reform amid allegations police were committing crimes against humanity in killing thousands of drug suspects.

“The vice president resorted to unduly baiting international attention on the matter,” Duterte spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a statement announcing Robredo's immediate dismissal.

“Essentially, what the vice president has done is to embarrass our country,” Panelo added.

The decision came after Duterte and his political allies publicly criticized Robredo, who had vowed to end “senseless” killing in the drug war after her appointment.

Duterte took issue Tuesday with Robredo’s meeting US embassy and United Nations drug experts.

“I do not trust her,” Duterte told reporters, calling Robredo a “scatterbrain” who could inadvertently share sensitive security matters with outsiders.

After the public tongue-lashing, Robredo said the president should fire her if she didn’t have his trust.

Robredo surprisingly accepted Duterte’s offer of the post despite advisers warning her it was a trap.

Duterte had previously derided the capability of Robredo to lead the country – which she would have to do if the president dies or cannot function.

Robredo was supposed to help her ICAD co-chair, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director General Aaron Aquino, in addressing the drug menace in the country until June 30, 2022.

Robredo was appointed by Duterte as ICAD co-chair on October 31, following her claims that the current administration’s drug war is “absolutely not working.”

Duterte initially wanted Robredo to hold a Cabinet rank as ICAD co-chair, but later on changed his mind for fear that the Vice President might reveal “classified” matters about the government’s anti-narcotics campaign.

The Chief Executive admitted on Saturday that he can “never” trust Robredo when it comes to keeping the drug war records as secret.

“There can never be a trust that can be nurtured between the two of us for the simple reason that Leni Robredo is with the opposition, while I belong to the ruling party,” Duterte said.*CPG/AFP/PNA


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