Robredo’s sacking as anti-drugs czar won’t silence her: ‘I’m just getting started’

Mara Cepeda
Robredo’s sacking as anti-drugs czar won’t silence her: ‘I’m just getting started’
'Ano bang kinatatakutan ninyo? Ano ba ang kinatatakutan ninyong malaman ko?' Vice President Leni Robredo asks the Duterte administration

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo warned President Rodrigo Duterte she would reveal what she discovered about his bloody war on drugs from her two-week stint as the anti-drugs body co-chair. 

“Kung sa tingin nila matatapos ito dito, hindi nila ako kilala. Nagsisimula pa lamang ako,” Robredo said in a brief press conference on Monday, November 25, a day after Duterte fired her as co-chairperson of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) without formal notice. 

(If they think this will end here, they don’t know me. I’m just getting started.)

She said she plans to publicize the information she was able to gather about the government’s anti-illegal drugs campaign during her brief term in the ICAD in the coming days.  

“Sa mga susunod na araw, magbibigay ako ng ulat sa bayan. Sasabihin ko ang aking natuklasan at ang aking mga rekomendasyon,” said the Vice President.

(In the coming days, I will give reports to the public. I will tell them what I discovered and my recommendations.)

“Makakaasa kayo: kahit tinanggalan ako ng posisyon, hinding-hindi nila kayang tanggalin ang aking determinasyon – determinasyong itigil ang patayan, panagutin ang kailangang managot, at ipanalo ang kampanya laban sa iligal na droga,” she added.  

(You can trust that even if I my position was removed, they won’t be able to remove my determination – my determination to stop the killings, to make those responsible accountable for their actions, and to win the campaign against illegal drogs. )

The Vice President was appointed by Duterte out of spite after she said his violent drug war – which has so far killed thousands in both police operations and vigilante-style killings – needs to be “tweaked” because it was “not working.” (READ: The Impunity Series

The ICAD co-chair post was vague and highly politicized, yet Robredo accepted the job in a bid to help bring about a deathless drug war. (READ: The gamble of Leni Robredo)

Duterte ‘not ready’ for Robredo after all 

As soon as she accepted the post, Robredo began consulting with different government agencies as well as local and international organizations. She also visited various rehabilitation centers to under the best practices to curb the drug problem and help addicts recover from their addiction. 

But the Vice President believes the Duterte government just isn’t ready for her to fight the drug war. 

“Noong tinanggap ko ang trabahong ito, ang una kong tinanong sa kanila ay: ‘Handa na ba kayo sa akin?’ Ngayon ang tanong ko: Ano bang kinatatakutan ninyo? Ano ba ang kinatatakutan ninyong malaman ko? Ano ba ang kinatatakutan ninyong malaman ng taumbayan?” asked Robredo. 

(When I accepted this job, my first question for them was: ‘Are you ready for me?’ Now, my question is: What are you so afraid of? What are you afraid for me to know? What are you afraid the public to know?) 

The Philippine National Police, one of the frontline agencies against drugs, already cleared Robredo of accusations that she was using her post in ICAD to undermine Duterte.  

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo denied Duterte fired Robredo to distract the public from the controversies surrounding the Philippines’ hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games. – Rappler.com

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 mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.