No Cabinet post? No problem for Robredo: ‘I’ll just do what I can’

Mara Cepeda

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No Cabinet post? No problem for Robredo: ‘I’ll just do what I can’


'Basta sa akin, whatever I can do now, I will do. Kapag harangan nila, hindi ko na iyon problema,' says Vice President Leni Robredo

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo is undeterred by the ongoing pushback she is receiving from the Duterte government after agreeing to be co-chairperson of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD).

The Vice President said it does not matter to her whether the post is part of President Rodrigo Duterte’s Cabinet. She will just do what she can as ICAD co-chair despite the limitations thrown her way. (READ: ‘I’m used to adjusting,’ Robredo says on withholding of drug intel

“Iyong sa akin lang, pagtanggap ko ng trabaho, walang… hindi nagma-matter kung Cabinet post iyon o hindi. Basta sa akin, pagtanggap ko ng trabaho, talagang ano na, full steam ahead,” Robredo told reporters in Navotas City on Tuesday, November 19.

(For me, when I accepted the job… it didn’t matter if it was a Cabinet post or not. When I accepted the job, it was just full steam ahead.)

“First day pa lang ng pagtanggap ko, nagtrabaho na ako. Papabayaan ko na lang sila kung hindi pa nagkakasundo kung ano ba talaga iyong… ano iyong kaakibat ng assignment ko. Basta ako, ginagawa ko iyong lahat, whether miyembro ako ng Cabinet o hindi,” she added. 

(I already worked on the first day of my job. Just let them be if they can’t decide what… my position entails. I’ll just do what I can, whether I am a Cabinet member or not.) 

This was the Vice President’s response after Malacañang backtracked on its offer to give her a Cabinet post to lead the government’s anti-illegal drugs campaign. (READ: Robredo lost Cabinet post due to request for drug war docs, intel – Panelo

Despite the ambiguity behind the ICAD co-chair post that Duterte created for Robredo, she accepted the job in a bid to help bring about a deathless drug war. (READ: The gamble of Leni Robredo

She has been pushing for a data-driven and health-based approach in battling the drug problem, in contrast to Duterte’s bloody drug war that has so far killed thousands. (READ: 5 fatal obstacles in Robredo’s target of a deathless drug war

But since taking office, the President and his men have been setting limitations for the Vice President. Duterte even threatened to fire Robredo if she would aid investigations on the drug war that are against him.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo also 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.” 

‘Not my problem’

Robredo is unfazed, however, saying she had expected this given the lack of sincerity when Duterte offered her the post in the first place. 

Still, the Vice President said it is the least of her problems as ICAD co-chair if Duterte allies cannot figure out how to collectively gauge her performance so far.  

“Sa akin kasi, problema nila iyon. Iyong pagsukat nila sa akin, problema nila iyon. Hindi ko iyon problema. Basta ako, ang inaasikaso ko iyong trabahong binigay sa akin. Hindi ko na problema kung haharangan nila,” said Robredo.

(For me, it’s their problem. Their assessment of me, that’s their problem. It’s not my problem. I just do the job given to me. It’s not my problem if they would impede it.) 

“Hindi ko na problema kung hindi pa din sila nagkakasundo kung ano ba talaga iyong role ko. Basta sa akin, whatever I can do now, I will do. Kapag harangan nila, hindi ko na iyon problema,” she added. 

(It’s not my problem if they can’t decide what my role is. For me, whatever I can do now, I will do. If they will stop it, that’s not my problem anymore.)

On Tuesday morning, Robredo met with Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, who said she could help refine and give feedback on anti-drug operations, but actual enforcement would be left with the Philippine National Police. –

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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.