Duterte appoints Robredo as co-chairperson of inter-agency anti-narcotics body

Ian Nicolas Cigaral - Philstar.com
leni robredo
Robredo’s appointment to the post came after her criticisms of the drug war touched a nerve in Malacañang, with Duterte previously offering to put her in charge of law enforcement.
The STAR / Geremy Pintolo, File photo

MANILA, Philippines (Update 2, 1:33 p.m.)  — President Rodrigo Duterte has given Vice President Leni Robredo a role in his controversial anti-drug campaign, Malacañang announced Tuesday.

In a letter dated Oct. 31 but was released to the media on Tuesday, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea informed Robredo that she was appointed co-chairperson of the Inter-agency Committee on Anti-illegal Drugs, or ICAD.

The ICAD, created in 2017 through Executive Order No. 15, is currently chaired by Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency. It does not mention the position of co-chair.

Robredo’s appointment to the post came after her criticisms of the drug war touched a nerve in Malacañang, with Duterte previously offering to put her in charge of law enforcement. 

The Office of the Vice President had said that while it is willing to help the Duterte administration solve the country’s drug problem, Robredo will not be a “scapegoat” for all of the drug war’s shortcomings.

"With this development, the Palace supposes that detractors and critics will finally see the sincerity of the President in making such offer to the Vice President," presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a statement.

He had previously shown reporters covering the Palace a text message supposedly sent to Robredo's number asking her whether she was accepting the offer. He also made a show of calling the number. His call went unanswered.

Police say more than 7,000 who resisted arrest have been killed since Duterte launched his deadly narcotics crackdown — a far cry from rights groups' estimate that pegs drug-related fatalities at 27,000.

In an October 23 article entitled: “Philippine vice president says time for Duterte to halt failed drug war”, Robredo — who has a frosty relationship with Duterte — told Reuters that the government’s controversial anti-narcotics campaign is “obviously not working.”

"The lives of our people are on the line and the dignity of our country is on the line, but my first call is for our government to take care of the mess," Robredo said.

According to an October 31 letter sent to her by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Robredo will occupy the position until June 30, 2022 “unless sooner revoked”.

RELATED: Reuters says Robredo's criticism of drug war 'fairly and accurately' reported

Executive Order 15, s. 2017

ICAD has representatives with the rank of undersecretary or assistant secretary from the following government agencies:

  • Dangerous Drugs Board
  • Department of the Interior and Local Government
  • Department of Justice
  • Department of Health
  • Department of Education
  • Department of Social Welfare and Development
  • Department of Trade and Industry
  • Department of Agriculture
  • Department of National Defense
  • Technical Education and Skills Development Authority
  • Philippine Information Agency
  • Public Attorney's Office
  • Office of the Solicitor General
  • Philippine Coast Guard
  • Philippine National Police
  • National Bureau of Investigation
  • Bureau of Customs
  • Bureau of Immigration
  • Armed Forces of the Philippines
  • Anti-Money Laundering Council

According to EO 15, the ICAD is tasked with making sure that member agencies "shall implement and comply with all policies, laws and issuances pertaining to the government's anti-illegal drug campaign, in an integrated and synchronized manner."

Aside from ensuring the effective conduct of anti-drug operations and the arrest of "high-value drug personalities down to the street-level peddlers and users," the committee is also tasked with implementing the National Anti-Drug Plan of Action  2015-2020 and ensuring the implementation of the Barangay Drug-Clearing Program.

The committee chairperson is also charged with establishing and activating a National Anti-Illegal Drug Task Force "which shall undertake sustained anti-illegal drug operations."

ICAD clusters

The ICAD has four clusters: Enforcement, Justice, Advocacy, and Rehabilitation and Reintegration.

The Enforcement Cluster is in charge of anti-illegal drugs operations, "including the conduct if investigations against drug syndicates, financiers and other target personalities."

According to EO 15, the ICAD chairperson and the PDEA can seek assistance from the military, coast guard, the Philippine Center on Transnational Crime and all other government agencies in its anti-drug operations.

The Justice Cluster, meanwhile, is "primarily responsible for the expeditious prosecution of all drug cases, provision of legal assistance to law enforcement," and the availablity of public attorneys for voluntary surrenders and warrantless arrests during operations.

The Advocacy Cluster is charged with conducting a nationwide campaign on the government's anti-drug policy and related programs, while the Rehabilitation and Reintegration Cluster "shall implement drug rehabilitation programs and ensure the reintegration of former drug dependents and other drug personalities as useful members of society."

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