Philippines’ Duterte to VP Robredo: keep state secrets or lose your ‘drugs tsar’ post

Vice president Leni Robredo, a political rival of the popular president Rodrigo Duterte, accepted a lead role in his brutal war on drugs. (AFP)
Updated 17 November 2019

Philippines’ Duterte to VP Robredo: keep state secrets or lose your ‘drugs tsar’ post

  • ‘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’

MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to remove the vice president from her “drugs tsar” post if she shared state secrets with foreign individuals and entities.
The warning, which the president made in a television interview, came a few days after he offered Leni Robredo a lead role in his brutal war on drugs, which she later accepted to reassess a campaign she said was fraught with senseless killings.
Robredo, a political rival of the popular Duterte, told Reuters on Oct. 23 that international help, including from the United Nations and International Criminal Court (ICC), should be sought if the government refused to change tack and stop abusive police.
“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,” presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a statement on Sunday.
“She may not realize it but she could be treading on dangerous ground. It could be an overreach of the granted authority, hence the reminder,” Panelo said.
Duterte has reacted with fury to a resolution by the UN Human Rights Council to investigate the killings and responded to a preliminary examination by the ICC by pulling the Philippines out of the organization.
Human rights experts at home and abroad are incensed by thousands of deaths in what police say were sting operations that resulted in shootouts.
Activists dispute those accounts and accuse police of executing suspects based on weak intelligence. Police reject that.
In an interview with GMA News aired on Saturday, Duterte said he would fire Robredo as co-chair of an inter-agency on drugs if she shared classified information because certain matters should be kept with the government.
Robredo met with the officials from United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), community-based advocacy groups and US Embassy last week to discuss the drug problem, which she has said must be tackled from a health and social perspective, including prevention and treatment rather than a largely police-centered approach.
Robredo, who was elected separately to Duterte, has long been a critic of his flagship campaign, arguing that thousands of urban poor have been killed, with no sign of progress toward dismantling major drugs networks. She had no immediate comment on Duterte’s remarks.
Robredo, 54, accepted the offer to co-lead the drugs crackdown that has prompted activists to call for international intervention, even though she suspected her rival’s administration would try to thwart her progress.
But Panelo dismissed those concerns as baseless and said the president’s latest remarks were meant to remind Robredo of the “imperatives as well as the limits” of her role.
“Other pessimists contend...the president had begun clipping her wings so as not to fulfill her mandate. Such speculations are unfounded and they are unproductive as well,” Panelo said.


French foreign minister bolsters Algeria ties in rare visit

Updated 21 January 2020

French foreign minister bolsters Algeria ties in rare visit

  • Le Drian’s visit came amid international efforts to resolve the conflict in Libya — a neighbor of Algeria — and crises in the Sahel
  • France and five Sahel nations — including three of Algeria’s immediate neighbors — pledged earlier this month to bolster efforts against extremists

ALGIERS: France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian met Algeria’s President Abdelmadjid Tebboune on Tuesday, as the North African country’s former colonizer seeks to boost ties and defuse regional conflicts.
Tebboune, who came to power last month in a presidential election, received the first senior French government official to visit Algeria since the justice minister a year ago.
That visit came just before an unprecedented protest movement burst onto the scene, forcing longtime president Abdelaziz Bouteflika to step down in April.
“The presidential elections took place. There is now a new government and France wants to work with it,” Le Drian said.
“President Tebboune has shown an ambition for Algeria — one of deep reform, to reinforce governance, the rule of law and freedoms,” he told reporters.
The Algerian leader’s vision also seeks “to revive the economy in accordance with the aspirations that Algerians have shown for the last year,” Le Drian said.
Tebboune, once a prime minister under Bouteflika, won the December election amid an official turnout of less than 40 percent.
Analysts believe voter participation was substantially lower, in a context where the Hirak protest movement viewed the election as a ploy by an unreformed elite to consolidate its power.
Le Drian’s visit came amid international efforts to resolve the conflict in Libya — a neighbor of Algeria — and crises in the Sahel.
Tebboune was among invitees to a summit on Libya held in Berlin on Sunday.
“We were together in Berlin, the day before yesterday, on Libya’s conflict and we will coordinate our efforts beyond even... a sustainable cease-fire” and recreating a political dialogue between Libya’s warring parties, Le Drian said.
“We will also take stock of the situation in the Sahel and recall our common objectives of security and fighting against terrorism,” he added.
France and five Sahel nations — including three of Algeria’s immediate neighbors — pledged earlier this month to bolster efforts against extremists waging an increasingly deadly insurgency.

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