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VP cedes ICAD rift

Robredo said she was disappointed about some officials’ refusal to cooperate.

Hananeel Bordey

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Robredo expresses disappointment over uncooperative elements in ICAD. AFP

Vice President Leni Robredo confirmed a crack within the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-illegal Drugs (ICAD), which she co-heads with Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) chief Aaron Aquino, as she described in her weekly radio program that some heads of the agencies in the body as being “uncooperative.”

With two-and-a-half years remaining in the current administration, Robredo said there is no time for competition among agency heads in the ICAD.

She emphasized she will focus on working with cooperative members of the ICAD as she cannot force cooperation on members of the committee.

“Actually, most of them are very cooperative. That’s why I am saying that I will focus on those who cooperate, and for those who do not cooperate, I will just send recommendations,” Robredo said.

“I always repeat this. We only have two-and-a-half years. Are we going to waste this? Are we going to waste this on competition? So, those who are willing to cooperate, we will concentrate our time on them, and those who are not (cooperating), we can try. But if they really refuse, we cannot do anything about that,” she added.

Turf war?

Robredo said she was disappointed with some officials’ refusal to cooperate, emphasizing that this is about the government’s campaign against illegal drugs and not about anyone’s turf.

“This is saddening because this is our fight. Like what I am always saying, this campaign against illegal drugs should not just be a campaign of the administration. All of us are involved in this campaign… But if we are too conscious about turf, it is up to them,” she said.

Her remarks came after Aquino initially refused to provide her the list of drug personalities who are considered as high-value targets.

Aquino, on Saturday, backtracked and said he is willing to provide the list to the Vice President.

Robredo said the ICAD still needs to arrange proper workflow between the agencies, which includes sharing of data.

The drug czarina cited one of her functions stipulated under Executive Order 15 signed by President Rodrigo Duterte provided that she should “ensure the effective conduct of anti-illegal drugs operations and arrest of high-value drug personalities.”

What Leni wants

“This is my question. How could we ensure that we arrest high-value targets if I am not aware of their numbers? What are the available information? What are the other information that are lacking? Because, obviously, it is not really complete as illegal drugs are still entering the country,” Robredo explained.

The Vice President said she is only following the order of the President and it is up to department heads to cooperate with her.

Robredo revealed that her request for the list of high-value targets was transmitted to Aquino through private communication, but Aquino opted to respond through the media.

“Actually, my request for the list was done through private communication with Chairman Aquino’s office. They should have answered us (directly) that they do not want to provide (the list). But they told the media about it… We did not announce through the media, that we are asking for the list,” she said.

Robredo also said that it is up for Duterte to decide on those who do not cooperate with the ICAD.

Moreover, the Vice President assured that she will not divulge any sensitive information that may damage the government’s campaign against illegal drugs.

But Robredo emphasized that transparency should be observed to ensure accountability.

Negative implication

“You know, the term laglagan (compromise) has a negative connotation. It is like you are hiding something. But that’s what we are trying to remove. We are going to be transparent as possible on what is happening so that our countrymen know what is the real situation. But we will not divulge sensitive information that will harm our campaign,” Robredo said.

Last week, Interior Undersecretary Ricojudge Echiverri expressed fear about sharing information to the Vice President warning of a laglagan or using these data against law enforcers.

“I think transparency is very important because this will exact accountability to the officials. If we are hiding everything, then how can we hold those who do not do their job accountable? How can we ensure accountability from those who are corrupt?” she went on saying.

Robredo said that it is part of her functions to “cleanse the bureaucracy of unscrupulous personnel involved in illegal drug activities.”

She indicated all meetings and recommendations were being transmitted to Mr. Duterte and a second report will be sent to the President early this week.

On Saturday, Duterte warned Robredo that he will fire her if she reveals information that will endanger the security of the state.

The Vice President recently met with representatives of foreign institutions, such as the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, community-based advocacy groups and United States Embassy officials, to discuss the narcotics problem.

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