Raise 'mixed feelings' over VP's role in ICAD with Duterte, Robredo â OVP
In this file photo, top officials of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs conduct a general meeting headed by Vice President Leni Robredo (center) with PDEA Dir. Aaron Aquino (left) Dangerous Drug Board Chairman Catalino Cuy at Office of the Vice President in Quezon City.
The STAR/Boy Santos
Raise 'mixed feelings' over VP's role in ICAD with Duterte, Robredo — OVP
Kristine Joy Patag (Philstar.com) - November 15, 2019 - 11:13am

MANILA, Philippines — Member agencies of the government's anti-illegal drug committee should raise their concerns about sharing information with Vice President Leni Robredo with her or with President Rodrigo Duterte who designated her co-chair of the panel, Robredo's spokesperson said Friday.

Local Government Undersecretary Ricojudge Echiverri in an interview on One News’ “The Chiefs” expressed apprehension on relaying information to Robredo, a critic of the Duterte government’s "drug war," as he said it could be used against law enforcers.

The government has maintained that extrajudicial killings are not state policy and that attempts to link the deaths to the "drug war" are motivated by politics. It has also repeatedly said that anti-narcotics operations are done by the book.

READ: DILG worried over info shared with Robredo

“What we are looking at is, is she really for real in helping us or looking into things that might be used against us? It’s just that this is a unique scenario where we invited an opposition to join,” said Echiverri, undersecretary for external and legislative affairs.

He also admitted to having "mixed feelings" on the vice president's new role. 

Echiverri said, though, that the vice president and the agency officials on the ICAD are still getting to know each other.

He said the vice president could help bridge the gap between the government and Church leaders, especially on community-based drug abuse rehablitation.

Lawyer Barry Gutierrez, Robredo's spokesperson, said Echiverri could have raised his apprehensions with the vice president at the meeting of the ICAD’s law enforcement cluster Thursday.

"The undersecretary was face to face with the VP yesterday at the meeting of the ICAD law enforcement cluster. If he has concerns, it would definitely be better to raise them directly, either with the VP or the president," Gutierrez told Philstar.com in a text message.

Robredo met with the law enforcement cluster, which includes police officials, on Thursday. After the meeting, the vice president said that the Philippine National Police agreed that they would "rethink" Oplan Tokhang where police officers visit the homes of suspected drug personalities and urge them to surrender.

The PNP is an agency of the DILG.

Duterte put Robredo in ICAD

Gutierrez also stressed that Robredo’s appointment as co-chairperson of the ICAD came from Duterte himself.

"Undersecretary Echiverri should remember that it was the president who entrusted this task to the vice president. Since her designation, she has worked tirelessly and sincerely with the ICAD agencies to make the anti-drug campaign more effective and more responsive to the public’s concerns," he said.

He also stressed: “VP Leni is ready to help organize and strengthen even more the campaign against illegal drugs. We wish those like Undersecretary Echiverri are also ready to help her.”

The vice president accepted Duterte’s offer to be ICAD co-chair despite earlier doubts on whether it was offered sincerely, saying  "even if the offer may be for politicking, and they will do everything to doom me to fail, I will push through. Because if I can save even just one innocent life, my heart and principles say that I should try."

The vice president has since met with other government agencies involved with the ICAD.

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