Duterte tells Robredo to check ICAD order for job description – but it's not there

President Rodrigo Duterte's order creating the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs does not specify the extent of its chairperson's powers or access to classified information

JC Gotinga

Published: 5:29 PM November 24, 2019

Updated: 5:42 PM November 24, 2019

CO-CHAIRS. It is unclear whether Vice President Leni Robredo and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency chief Aaron Aquino share the same degree of authority as ICAD co-chairs. File photo from the Office of the Vice President

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte said Vice President Leni Robredo should check his executive order that created the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD), after Robredo sought clarification from him about the extent of her authority and access to information as the committee’s new co-chairperson.

However, Executive Order (EO) No. 15, which established the ICAD in March 2017, does not specify the extent of its chairperson's powers or access to classified information.

It does say, however, that the PDEA, as ICAD chairperson, has the "overall responsibility" to ensure that the committee's objectives are met.

The PDEA is currently led by Director General Aaron Aquino.

The directive does not factor in a "co-chairperson," or a chairperson who is not from the PDEA like Robredo, whom Duterte appointed to share the post with Aquino.

Aquino, as PDEA chief, is privy to intelligence concerning illegal drugs. Robredo's request for access to that intelligence has been denied by Duterte, citing distrust.

It is unclear whether Robredo shares the same authority as Aquino in ordering, planning, and directing sting operations.

"Ganito 'yan eh. She would be asking for the job description. It's there in the law. It's there in the executive order creating itong ICAD. Nandiyan 'yan. So basahin lang niya 'yan. It's all there and that is where she would really exercise 'yung…kung meron," Duterte told reporters as he attended the christening of his great-grandson, Rodrigo Duterte III, in Davao City on Saturday, November 23.

(It's like this. She would be asking for the job description. It's there in the law. It's there in the executive order creating this ICAD. It's there. So she should just read that. It's all there and that is where she would really exercise the…if there is.)

Responsibilities

The EO outlines the ICAD's mandate, which is to coordinate and bolster the actions of its 20 member-agencies in going after illegal drug suspects, rehabilitating drug dependents, and educating the public about the drug menace.

The following are the sections of the order that specifically mention a duty or responsibility of the ICAD chairperson:

Section 1: "The PDEA, as Chairperson of the ICAD, shall have the overall responsibility to ensure that the objectives of the ICAD and the clusters herein created are accomplished."

Section 4: "The ICAD Chairperson shall establish and activate a National Anti-Illegal Drug Task Force which shall undertake sustained anti-illegal drug operations. All anti-drug operations of the Task Force will be closely coordinated with PDEA." (This task force was created in May 2017.)

Section 5: "All members of the ICAD shall each submit a periodic report to their respective Cluster Heads. The Cluster Heads shall submit a consolidated cluster report to the ICAD Chairperson, copy furnished the DDB (Dangerous Drugs Board). The ICAD Chairperson shall then consolidate all the reports for submission to the Office of the President.”

Besides these, the EO does not specify what powers the ICAD chairperson has over the implementation of anti-drug operations and programs.

Draw the line

Not being part of the PDEA but handed virtually the same responsibility as the PDEA chief, Robredo had written Duterte to draw the line between Aquino's part of the job and hers, especially after Duterte denied her access to "confidential" information, including a supposed list of "high-value targets" in the illegal drug trade.

"Pero kung sabihin mo na (But if you say that) she will ask [for] the paper, examine [it] and all of these things, so there is what you would call the need to know. Is there a need for you, Leni, to know everything? I don't think it's good," Duterte said on Saturday, yet again denying Robredo's request for access to information.

Weeks after offering the Vice President the ICAD job on October 31, Duterte said he could not "trust" Robredo because she had consulted with international anti-drug agencies such as the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, and the United States Drug Enforcement Agency.

Another reason for his distrust, Duterte said, was the fact that Robredo belongs to the opposition, and he "does not know her."

Former president Benigno Aquino III, Robredo's political ally, questioned Duterte's logic in appointing someone he does not trust. Senator Panfilo Lacson, whom Robredo also consulted about combating illegal drugs, said the question was "valid."

Without a clear mandate or access to intelligence on the illegal drug trade, Robredo’s job has become "untenable," Senator Panfilo Lacson said on Thursday, November 21.

'Yet to see'

Asked for his opinion of how Robredo has fared as ICAD co-chair thus far, Duterte replied, "Hindi pa siya nagta-trabaho talaga nang husto (She has not been really working yet). I have yet to see the Vice President working as an ICAD or ICAD chair, co-chair, and there is a product of their discussion."

Picking up on the reference to Robredo's discussions with Aquino on how they should share their job, a reporter asked Duterte to clarify the matter.

He replied: “Well, it's a…it will…it would greatly depend on what they agree upon. There are the broad outlines provided in that..."

Duterte left it at that. – Rappler.com