By Genalyn D. Kabiling
Vice President Leni Robredo could tread on “dangerous grounds” and commit an “overreach” of her authority if she reveals state secrets to foreigners and welcome those who trample the country’s sovereignty, Malacañang said Sunday.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo made the statement after President Duterte vowed to remove Robredo as anti-drug czar if she commits such acts that harm the welfare of the people.
“The President stated that disclosing classified information of the Philippine Government to foreign individuals and entities will cause the removal of the Vice President from her current post,” he said in a statement.
“Revealing State secrets to foreign individuals and entities as well as welcoming those who have trampled the country’s sovereignty would be damaging to the welfare of the Filipino people,” he said.
Under Article 229 of the Revised Penal Code, he said such revelation of privileged information is a crime which has perpetual special disqualification from office, among its penalties.
Panelo said the President issued the reminder after Robredo demanded access to all documents, including classified data on the drug war, as well as inviting certain United Nations personalities “who have described the country as a murderous country and who have called for the arrest of PRRD (President Rodrigo Roa Duterte).” He noted that Robredo even welcomed the prosecutor of the “rejected Rome Statute ICC (International Criminal Court) that has no jurisdiction over the country.”
“She may not realize it but she could be treading on dangerous grounds. It could be an overreach of the granted authority hence the reminder,” Panelo said.
Panelo explained that an appointment must be exercised strictly in accord with law and never opposed to the interest and security of the State.
Panelo, however, shot down allegations that the President’s recent pronouncement was an attempt to clip Robredo’s wings. He said it was a mere reminder of the limitation of her appointment.
“Detractors are once again making a hysterical fuss about the Chief Executive’s statement, with some arguing that such statement of the President validates the suspicion that the appointment was a trap,” he said.
“Others pessimists even contend that with the President’s remarks, he had begun clipping her wings so as not to fulfill her mandate. Such speculations are unfounded as they are unproductive as well. The President is merely reminding VP Leni of the imperatives as well as the limits of her appointment lest she transgresses it,” he added.
He said the Constitution vests executive power on the President, and as Chief Executive, the President has control over executive offices.
“Not only is it within the President’s discretion, but it is his constitutional duty not only to enforce all the laws but to ensure that all his alter egos, including a Co-Chairperson of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs, are performing their respective functions within the scope and ambit of the law,” he said.
The President earlier said he would “fire” Robredo as co-chairperson of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) if she reveals classified information to the public. He said classified matters should be kept with the government, and not be shared with others.
“Once (she does) that, she’s out, I would fire her,” Duterte said in a recent interview with GMA News.
Robredo, put in charge by Duterte to lead the war on drugs, recently declared her commitment to put an end to the “senseless killings” linked to the anti-drug campaign. She maintained that drug issues must be seen as a health issue, and anti-drug operations must be within the bounds of law.