Member-agencies of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) welcomed Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo’s acceptance of her appointment as the body’s co-chairperson.
“Finally, accepted na ng ating Vice President ang designation niya as my co-chairman of ICAD. Katatapos lang ng ICAD meeting namin ngayon. Sana natanggap niya mas maaga para na kasama namin siya ngayong umaga [Finally, our Vice President accepted her designation as my co-chairman of ICAD. We just concluded our meeting. It would have been better if she accepted it earlier so she could have joined us this morning],” Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Aquino said in an interview after the 14th ICAD Regular meeting held at PDEA headquarters in Quezon City.
“We have concluded the third quarter meeting of the inter-agency committee against illegal drugs (ICAD), wherein before we adjourned, I announced that VP Leni Robredo has accepted her designation as ICAD co-chairman,” said Aquino, who is also chairman of the ICAD.
Aquino said he is confident that Robredo will be of great help to the government’s anti-drug campaign.
“This is a welcome development for the illegal drug campaign, personally I cannot help but feel somehow awkward to have the second-highest elected official of the country as my co-chairman in ICAD. The campaign against illegal drugs is far from over. The help of Vice President Robredo is very much appreciated especially in terms of harm and demand reduction efforts,” he added.
Aquino also instructed the ICAD secretariat to prepare a briefing on the body’s accomplishments to be presented to the Vice President.
The PDEA chief said he is willing to brief Robredo on the functions and accomplishments of ICAD.
“We’ll just wait for her call. Siguradong magpapa-briefing siya sa akin [We’ll just wait for her call and I’m sure she wants a briefing with me],” I am also expecting a call from the VP’s office anytime for the schedule of briefing and meet and greet with the ICAD members,” Aquino said.
On Tuesday, Aquino said he is fully supportive of Robredo’s appointment as he hopes that she could help in the rehabilitation and reintegration cluster of the committee.
Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesman, Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac, added that as a member of ICAD, the PNP will “extend to her utmost courtesy, cooperation and full support towards the attainment of a drug-free Philippines by 2022”.
“The PNP welcomes the acceptance by VP Leni Robredo of the position as Co-Chair of ICAD to oversee the campaign against illegal drugs,” Banac said.
Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Undersecretary and spokesperson, Jonathan E. Malaya, said they are ready to assist the Vice President in her new task, after all, the objective is the same — to eliminate the drug problem in the country.
As co-chair of the ICAD, the Vice President can provide leadership and guidance to all government agencies to meet the following objectives of the body, among others, as provided in Executive Order 15 issued in 2017, namely:
-Advocacy campaign initiatives against illegal-drugs on the community level;
-Barangay anti-drug clearing operations;
-Cleansing the bureaucracy of unscrupulous personnel involved in illegal drugs;
-Community-based Drug Rehabilitation Program.
Malaya said the DILG, together with the DOH and DSWD, leads the illegal-drug demand reduction campaign “so we feel that it is in the area of illegal-drug demand reduction that the Vice President can make a significant contribution”.
“Aside from those, the Vice President can also provide us with fresh ideas and alternative strategies on how to handle the anti-illegal drug campaign, thus, we look forward to working with her closely in this regard,” he said in a statement.
The DILG directs all agencies under it — the PNP, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), Anti-Drug Abuse Councils (ADACs), Peace and Order Councils (POCs), all local government units and other attached agencies — to provide the necessary assistance to the Vice President as she takes on her new responsibility.
Based on recent data from July 2016 to September 2019 presented by Aquino himself, 18,712 villages in the country are still plagued by illegal drugs.
Robredo’s appointment was stated in a memorandum dated October 31 and released on Tuesday.
The designation was made following demands by critics and detractors that enforcement power should be given to Robredo “through official correspondence, and not just through a verbal or electronic communication”.
In accepting the post, Robredo said she wanted drug lords pursued and cops involved in narco-trafficking jailed. (PNA)