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Philippine Vice-President Robredo to President Duterte: Focus on problems, not 2022 polls

Vice President Leni Robredo pictured as she makes her statement at Office of the Vice President in Quezon City last November 06, 2019. Robredo accepted the challenge of President Rodrigo Duterte as Drug Czar. Michael Varcas. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

Pan Pacific Agency | COMMUICATION AGENCY FOR PACIFICA REGIONS

MANILA, Dec 2, 2019, PhilStar. Vice President Leni Robredo yesterday dismissed President Duterte’s latest pronouncement that she should not seek the presidency in 2022, The Philippine Star reported.

“First of all, 2022 is still very far. Let’s focus on the drug war first because this is what has been promised. We have not fixed (the drug problem) and yet we’re thinking already of the next elections,” Robredo said over radio station dzXL.

In an interview with CNN Philippines last Friday, Duterte said Robredo should not run for president as she is not up to the challenge.

It was not the first time that Duterte had belittled Robredo’s capability to lead the country.

In October, Duterte called on Filipinos not to vote for Robredo should she decide to run for president in 2022.

“’Wag kayong boboto diyan kay Leni. Kawawa kayo (Don’t vote for Leni. You’ll be pitiful),” Duterte said.

The Vice President, however, said if she were Duterte, she would even push her opponent to run.

“If you hate a person, you will even push that person to run. There’s really no hardest position than (the presidency). So if you’re mad at me, it’s better to say, ‘Go, run, so you’ll lose,’” she said.

Robredo added that she seemed to be the President’s “flavor of the month,” devoting too much of his time attacking her.

“How many hours does the President devote to attack me? But we never respond to vulgarity. We never respond to things that won’t do us good. But if there are lies, we will respond,” the Vice President said.

Duterte launched a series of tirades against Robredo after she met with officials of the United Nations’ Office on Drugs and Crime and US embassy following her appointment as Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) co-chair early last month.

Robredo held the position for just 19 days.

In 2016, Robredo was appointed chairperson of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council but resigned after barely five months as she was barred by Duterte from attending Cabinet meetings.

The President has repeatedly expressed distrust in Robredo, who chairs the opposition Liberal Party.

Apart from Robredo, he also advised his daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio not to run for president in 2022.

Robredo and the younger Duterte are being eyed as possible presidential contenders in 2022.

No sensitive information

No sensitive information related to the government’s war on drugs will be disclosed in the report that Robredo will make public in the coming days.

“I said I will make it public to make sure that the report will be read or (Malacañang) will be aware of my recommendations,” Robredo said in her weekly program “BISErbisyong Leni” over dzXL.

A day after she was fired by Duterte as ICAD co-chair, Robredo promised to release the discoveries she supposedly made during her quick stint at ICAD.

The Vice President, however, was not given access to classified matters, including the list of high-value targets of the war on drugs.

She said she was surprised by the negative reactions generated by her supposed revelations.

Robredo said she has submitted to Duterte two reports containing her recommendations on combatting illegal drugs during her brief appointment in ICAD.

She was supposed to send a third report.

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said Robredo’s reports have been buried in the President’s pile of documents.

“Secretary Panelo said (the President) didn’t read my reports. So it’s better to make it public so for whatever it is worth, it will be considered,” Robredo said, adding that some ICAD officials, including Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, have welcomed her recommendations.

Robredo said she has no intention of “threatening” those who are involved in the war on drugs.

Duterte dared the Vice President to make public her report.

“You seem to be threatening that you have information. Release it,” the President said in a speech last week.

Robredo said she has no capability of harassing her political opponents.

“Why would I threaten them? I am alone compared to them. For me, my recommendations are based on my findings in the anti-illegal drug campaign operations,” she said.

“Those I worked with know that what we did was well-intentioned. We find ways on how to improve the campaign,” she added.

The Vice President said she is not releasing the reports to the public yet so that Filipinos could focus on the athletes competing in the ongoing 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.

“We were being challenged to release it; actually, our office was set to release it Wednesday or Thursday last week. But I want to finish the SEA Games first, at least the opening, in deference to our athletes,” Robredo said.

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