The Department of Justice leads the justice cluster of the Inter-agency Committee on Illegal Drugs. The ICAD has four clusters under it.
The STAR/Geremy Pintolo
Guevarra: Robredo's removal from ICAD a lost opportunity in drug war
Kristine Joy Patag ( - November 25, 2019 - 3:49pm

MANILA, Philippines — Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra lamented the firing of Vice President Leni Robredo as co-chair of the Inter-agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs as a “lost opportunity.”

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Duterte sacked Robredo, lone opposition in the panel, for failing to present a proposal to improve the crackdown on illegal drugs and for “unduly baiting international attention” to the problem.

Guevarra, who earlier said he is “very happy” to welcome Robredo in the ICAD, said Monday that he is saddened that the “venture” between the opposition leader and the administration “crashed even before it can take flight.”

“There was this opportunity for the administration and even the opposition band together and put up a united front against a common enemy which is the illegal drugs,” the Justice secretary said.

“The vice president could help, contributed something but the opportunity was lost,” Guevarra also said, stressing that the drug menace is a difficult problem.

Since Robredo was appointed to the ICAD, she met with several clusters— including the Philippine National Police, Department of the Interior and Local Government and Department of Health—of the panel.

She suggested procuring body cameras for police officers and the PNP said they are eyeing to beat the December 10 deadline to acquire the equipment.

While Malacañang initially said that Robredo should be allowed to do her work, it drew the line when the vice president asked for classified information on high-value targets in the drug war.

RELATED: Info on high-value targets crucial to Robredo's role in anti-drug war — LP

Duterte said he does not trust Robredo, whom he appointed to the ICAD, and claimed that if the vice president is given access to classified information she "will just place the republic in jeopardy.”

But the justice secretary is hopeful that Robredo’s removal from ICAD will “make our drug enforcement agencies band together closer, closed ranks so we can focus our attention on the real battle, not on the political leadership issue but on the real battle on the ground, which is against illegal drugs.”

Robredo, for her part, said that her removal from the ICAD would not stop her from working against the illegal drugs. She added that she would be giving a report in the coming days to share her findings and recommendations.

Robredo's firing came amid criticisms against organizers of the Southeast Asian Games, but the Palace denied that the move was meant to cover up the issue with the Philippines' hosting of the biennial sporting event. — with reports from The STAR/Evelyn Macairan

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