Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra rejected the suggestion of Vice President Leni Robredo that the Dangerous Drug Board, and not the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, should lead the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs that was created in 2017 to spearhead the campaign against illegal drugs.
Guevarra said ICAD’s main focus is operation and enforcement of government programs, policies, and projects pertinent to suppressing the drug problem.
“The reason why it’s PDEA and not DDB as chair of ICAD is because the thrust of ICAD is operations while that of DDB’s is policy-making,” Guevarra said.
Guevarra, who is also a member of the ICAD, was commenting on the statement made by Robredo that the chairman of ICAD should be the head of DDB and not PDEA.
ICAD was established in 2017 under Executive Order No. 15 issued by President Rodrigo Duterte “to pursue an effective campaign against the trafficking and use of dangerous drugs and other similar substances through an integrated planning, implementation and enforcement of anti-illegal drug policies, programs and projects.”
The EO itself designated the head of PDEA as chairperson.
EO 15 also mandated the creation of an Anti-Illegal Drug Task Force, which, Guevarra said is “just a subsidiary of ICAD.”
While the task force has not been created yet, “this does not mean that ICAD cannot operate without it,” he pointed out.
“The President will appoint the task force commander. But, as far as I know, none has been appointed yet,” Guevarra said.
After her 19-day stint as ICAD co-chairman, Robredo came out with her recommendations on how to improve the government’s anti-illegal drugs campaign.
Among these is to include private sector and local government representatives in the committee.
Robredo also asked the Philippine National Police to revoke its Command Memorandum Circular no. 16-2016 that allowed Project “Double Barrel.”
She said there should be a clear set of operational guidelines such as how to conduct house-to-house visits to local institutions, with clear specifications on how the police would be involved; how their performance would be measured; and what safeguards would be put in place to prevent abuses.
“Oplan Tokhang” should also be scrapped because it has become synonymous to drug-related killings, she said.
The vice president also called for the mandatory use of body cameras during anti-illegal drugs operations to protect the police operatives from unfounded accusations of abuse.