President Rodrigo Duterte's appointment of Vice President Leni Robredo as co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) was problematic, unclear and does not even exist, Robredo's camp said.
Robredo will issue a statement Wednesday to lay out her position on the drug war and how she thinks it should be addressed.
"Si VP ay seryoso na kailangan itong ayusin . . . Bukas siya ay magbibigay ng isang pahayag tungkol sa usapin ng drug war, kung ano ang tingin nyang direksyon na dapat puntahan nito," lawyer Barry Gutierrez, Robredo's spokesperson, said in a news conference.
Gutierrez said the letter on the formal offer of the post from the office of Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea did not specify Robredo’s authority in the event that she accepts the post.
“Pag-amin ito na may pagkukulang ang drug war. Pero kapag tinignan niyo ang letter, walang laman. Problematic iyong offer in the sense na hindi nag-eexist iyong office at hindi clear anong powers siya magiging responsible,” Gutierrez said.
“EO 15 is about implementation of policies. Wala naman siyang (Robredo) supervision sa 41 agencies ng ICAD. Hindi naman na-capture ang sinasabi ng Pangulo na pagiging drug czar. You can only accept or reject something if the offer is serious. This is not even a serious offer,” Gutierrez added.
Executive Order 15, which created the ICAD, also does not provide for a position of ICAD co-chair.
"Very clear na yung co-chair under the EO itself hindi nag-eexist yung position," Gutierrez said.
Sought for comment, presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said there was no need to amend EO 15.
"The President has the continuing authority to reorganise the bureaucracy. Gutierrez is wrong,” Panelo said.
Gutierrez said the OVP was surprised why the designation was not for a "drug czar," as earlier offered by Duterte, but as co-chair of an agency.
“It was the President who raised the appointment. The President is calling the shots for the past three years and now out of frustration, she was appointed to a non-existent position. Hindi kami basta mauupo na tatanggapin ‘yun,” Gutierrez pointed out.
“Having said that, we have to establish that this is a serious offer, not just a way to pass off iyong pagkukulang ng drug war kay Vice President Leni,” Gutierrez added.
Gutierrez also said that Robredo's supposed co-chair at the ICAD, Philippine Drug Enfircement Agency head Aaron Aquino, earlier made a statement doubting the capability and experience of the Vice President to combat illegal drugs.
"So, paano mo naman ite-take eseriosuly itong ganitong offer kung yung mismong co-chair nya ay nagpahayag na hindi sya nanininwala sa co-chair nya," he said.
The ICAD has 20 agencies as members.
Under Executive Order 15 which created the ICAD, the ICAD’s mandate includes the following:
- ensure the effective conduct of anti-illegal drug operations and arrest of high¬ value drug personalities down to the street-level peddlers and users;
- spearhead and coordinate the implementation of the National Anti-Drug Plan of Action 2015-2020 ;
- ensure comprehensive implementation of the Barangay Drug-Clearing Program;
- ensure intensive conduct of advocacy campaign initiatives;
- ensure that the roles and responsibilities of the member agencies are efficiently and effectively carried out;
- cleanse the bureaucracy of unscrupulous personnel involved in illegal drug activities ; and
- ensure that the anti-illegal drug objectives of the government are achieved
Earlier, Albay Representative Edcel Lagman said Robredo is "being set up to fail" with the ICAD offer.
In a statement, Lagman, Robredo's partymate at the Liberal Party, said the co-chairmanship of the ICAD is "vastly different" from the position of Anti-Drug Czar that was previously offered by Duterte to Robredo.
"The diluted position validates the fear that the Vice President is being set up to fail," he said. —LDF/NB, GMA News