What role does the ICAD play in the 'war on drugs'?

Ratziel San Juan - Philstar.com
What role does the ICAD play in the 'war on drugs'?
In this March 13, 2017 photo from the Philippine News Agency, The Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs holds its first meeting at the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Conference Room in Quezon City.
Philippine News Agency website / Ben Briones

MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo on Wednesday accepted her appointment as co-chair of the Inter-agency Committee on Anti-illegal Drugs amid warnings that the position has no real functions empowering it to act on the administration’s drug war.

“Even if we say that the offer was mere politicking and the government agencies will not follow me and they will do everything for me not to succeed, I’m ready to bear all of these. Because if I can save one innocent life, my principles and heart are telling me I should give it a try,” Robredo told the media.

In an October 31 memorandum released to media on Tuesday, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea informed Robredo that she had been appointed ICAD co-chairperson.

Lawyer Barry Gutierrez, OVP spokesperson, on Tuesday said that under Executive Order 15, which created ICAD, the co-chair position does not even exist.

"[E]ven with this appointment, clearly it's still the president that will actually be calling the shots. Walang power itong co-chair ng ICAD even granting that [the] position will be created sometime in the future," Gutierrez said.

(The ICAD co-chair does not have power even granting that the position will be created sometime in the future.)

What does Executive Order 15 say?

Issued in March 2017, EO 15 states that PDEA is the chairperson of ICAD and is responsible for ensuring the objectives of the committee and its four clusters – Enforcement, Justice, Advocacy, and Rehabilitation and Reintegration – are accomplished.

The document does not state a co-chairperson position.

ICAD has the following member agencies, which are represented on the committee by officials with the rank of undersecretary or assistant secretary:

  • 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

"The ICAD shall ensure that each member agency 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,” EO 15 reads.

Presumably, because of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, or Republic Act No. 9165, this policy is created by the Dangerous Drugs Board, which also sits on the committee.

Among the specific functions of the committee are ensuring the effective conduct of anti-illegal drug operations and “arrest of high-value drug personalities down to the street-level peddlers and users”, as well as cleansing the bureaucracy of personnel involved in illegal drug activity.

ICAD is also tasked with overseeing the implementation of the National Anti-Drug Plan of Action 2015-2020 and the Barangay Drug-Clearing Program.

More general functions are facilitating advocacy campaign initiatives, monitoring if the role and responsibilities of the member agencies are carried out, and checking if anti-illegal drug objectives of the government are achieved.    

ICAD’s Enforcement Cluster is mandated to conduct anti-illegal drug operations with the support of other law enforcement agencies through the PDEA and National Anti-Drug Task Force “including the conduct of investigations against drug syndicates, financiers and other target personalities.” PDEA and the National Anti-Drug Task Force, in turn, may seek assistance from the military, coast guard, and all other agencies.

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

Meanwhile, the Advocacy Cluster is tasked to conduct 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."

EO No. 15 holds that "[i]n accordance with the mandate of the DDB under R.A. No. 9165 as the policy-making and strategy-formulating body in the planning and formulation of policies and programs on drug prevention and control, the DDB shall be included as a member of all the clusters of the ICAD."

Does ICAD overlap with other agencies?

The DDB, created by the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, is "the policy-making and strategy-formulating body in the planning and formulation of policies and programs on drug prevention and control."

The board, which is under the Office of the President, "[i]t shall develop and adopt a comprehensive, integrated, unified and balanced national drug abuse prevention and control strategy."

Among its powers and duties are the following:

  • “Formulate, develop and establish a comprehensive, integrated, unified and balanced national drug use prevention and control strategy;
  • “Conduct policy studies, program monitoring and evaluations and other researches on drug prevention, control and enforcement;
  • “Develop an educational program and information drive on the hazards and prevention of illegal use of any dangerous drug and/or controlled precursor and essential chemical based on factual data...”
  • PDEA, formed by the same law as the implementing arm of the DDB, is responsible for the “efficient and effective law enforcement of all the provisions on any dangerous drug and/or controlled precursor and essential chemical as provided in [RA 1965].”

PDEA’s powers and duties include the following:

  • “Implement or cause the efficient and effective implementation of the national drug control strategy formulated by the Board thereby carrying out a national drug campaign program which shall include drug law enforcement, control and prevention campaign with the assistance of concerned government agencies;
  • “Arrest and apprehend as well as search all violators and seize or confiscate, the effects or proceeds of the crimes as provided by law and take custody thereof, for this purpose the prosecutors and enforcement agents are authorized to possess firearms, in accordance with existing laws;
  • “Initiate and undertake a national campaign for drug prevention and drug control programs, where it may enlist the assistance of any department, bureau, office, agency or instrumentality of the government, including government-owned and/or controlled corporations, in the anti-illegal drugs drive…”

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