Aquino to Duterte: If you don’t trust Robredo, why appoint her?

Mara Cepeda

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Aquino to Duterte: If you don’t trust Robredo, why appoint her?
'Puwede ba 'yong itatalaga mo na hindi mo pinagkakatiwalaan? Medyo magulo ata ‘yon,' says former president Benigno Aquino III

MANILA, Philippines – Former president Benigno Aquino III said his successor Rodrigo Duterte should not have appointed Vice President Leni Robredo as co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) if he didn’t trust her.  

This was the former president’s response on Wednesday, November 20, when asked to comment on Duterte, saying he did not trust Robredo enough to make her part of his Cabinet.  

“Balik tayo doon sa criteria kung bakit ka ba naga-appoint, bakit mo itinatalaga ang isang tao sa isang [posisyon]. Galing naman tayo doon eh. ‘Yung unang-una, kaya ng tao, pinagkakatiwalaan mong gagawin ‘yung trabaho, at naniniwala ka na gagawin niyang tama ‘yung trabaho. Kung wala lahat ‘yon, ‘wag mong itatalaga,” Aquino told reporters on the sidelines of the indignation run for the release of detained Senator Leila de Lima. 

(Let’s revisit the criteria for appointing someone to a position. I did this before. First, the person is capable, you trust him or her to do the job, and you believe he or she can do it well. If none of these are present, don’t make the appointment.)

“Pero itinalaga mo. So puwede ba ‘yong itatalaga mo na hindi mo pinagkakatiwalaan? Medyo magulo ata ‘yon,” added Aquino.  

(But you appointed her. So can you appoint someone you don’t trust? That’s confusing.) 

Aquino is a party mate of Robredo in the once-ruling Liberal Party. Aquino is chairman emeritus, while Robredo is currently the party chairperson. 

A spiteful Duterte had offered to make Robredo lead the government’s anti-illegal drug campaign after the Vice President said his bloody war on drugs has to be “tweaked” because it was “not working.” (READ: The gamble of Leni Robredo) 

The President first offered to make the Vice President his drug czar for 6 months, then he said he would give her a Cabinet post to deal with the drug problem.

The final offer made to Robredo was co-chair of ICAD, a non-Cabinet post, because her co-chief Aaron Aquino, the director-general of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, only has the rank of undersecretary. (READ: 5 fatal obstacles in Robredo’s target of a deathless drug war) 

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo later said the Vice President’s meetings with foreign institutions – like intelligence agencies from the United States and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime – “did not sit well with the President” and supposedly made her lose the Cabinet position. 

Robredo, however, is unfazed. She said she would do whatever she can to stop the killings in the drug war with or without a Cabinet post.

The Vice President used to be part of Duterte’s Cabinet as housing czar in 2016. But she resigned in December of that same year after the President shut her out of Cabinet meetings due to her criticism of the violent drug war that has so far killed thousands. –

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at or tweet @maracepeda.