Robredo to join next Cabinet meet? Only if invited, she says

Ratziel San Juan - Philstar.com
Robredo to join next Cabinet meet? Only if invited, she says
Vice President Leni Robredo said on Nov. 9, 2019 that she will only attend the next Cabinet meeting if extended an invite.
Michael Varcas, The STAR

MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo, who accepted her appointment as co-chairperson of the Inter-agency Committee on Anti-illegal Drugs despite warnings that the position is toothless, said on Saturday that she will only attend the next Cabinet meeting if extended an invite.

“Kapag inimbitahan ako, pupunta ako. Pero without the invitation, hindi ako pupunta, kasi kung naaalala naman natin noong 2016, ayaw akong pa-attend-in. So baka maging istorbo pa ako doon,” Robredo told the media at the Indo-Pacific Federation Conference of the Theosophical Society in Quezon City.

(I’ll come if I’m invited. But without the invitation, I’m not going because if we recall what happened in 2016, my attendance was opposed. I might just cause inconvenience for them.)

The vice president, formerly chair of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, resigned from her post in December 2016 after being told by the Palace to “desist from attending all Cabinet meetings.”

“Sa akin naman, hindi mahalaga iyong designation, kung ano talaga—kung Cabinet official ba. Iyong pinakamahalaga sa akin, maging cooperative lang iyong mga agencies, marami tayong magagawa.”

(For me, the designation as a Cabinet official is beside the point. What matters is that the agencies involved are cooperative and we will get things done.)

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

The vice president accepted the appointment on Wednesday amid concerns that even if the executive order that established ICAD was amended to include a co-chairperson position, the committee itself has no enforcement power and is limited to policy recommendations.

“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.

ICAD functions

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

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.

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