(NOVEMBER 11, 2019) – Malacañang on Monday said the vice president has a free hand to overhaul the government’s anti-narcotics campaign, including the scrapping of “Oplan Tokhang,” in her new job as anti-illegal drugs czar, the presidential spokesman said.
Salvador Panelo said the vice president can freely decide on what steps to undertake as the drug czar.
President Rodrigo Duterte appointed the vice president as co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Illegal Drugs (ICAD).
“Kung sa tingin niya ay mayroon pang mas effective kaysa sa tokhang, e ‘di gawin niya,” Panelo said in a press briefing. “She should be given a wide latitude and she should pursue her own scheme of things in pursuing the drug war.”
Robredo on Friday floated the idea of replacing “Oplan Tokhang,” the administration’s flagship anti-illegal drug policy, with a “more effective” campaign that does not involve “senseless killings.”
Panelo added the President is willing to provide for whatever Robredo needs as the co-chairperson of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD), including additional budget.
Robredo in her show at a radio station lamented the P15 million allotted funds in Congress for the ICAD is insufficient, given the wide range of responsibilities entailed in the committee. She also asked for extra funds to carry out the Philippine Anti-Drug Strategy, which was developed by the Dangerous Drug Board as a blueprint of the government’s strategies and programs in addressing the country’s drug use problem.
“Ngayon, ang pondo na nakasalang ay P15 million. Tingin ko, kulang iyon dahil sa lawak ng responsibilities. Humihingi rin ng pondo para ma-implement itong Philippine Anti-Drug Strategy,” Robredo said.
A meeting between the Duterte and Robredo will take place in an undetermined time, the spokesman said, to iron out the division of work for Robredo and her co-chairperson Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) chief Aaron Aquino.
Her official appointment paper will also be out soon, he said.
Meanwhile, Robredo said she will only attend Cabinet meetings if she is invited, citing 2016 when she was not allowed to partake in meetings of Duterte’s alter egos.
“Without the invitation, hindi ako pupunta kasi kung naaalala naman natin, noong 2016, ayaw akong pa-attend-in so baka maging istorbo pa ako,” Robredo told.
ON JOINING ANTI-DRUG OPERATIONS
Robredo reiterated her openness to join anti-illegal drug operations conducted generally by the PDEA and the Philippine National Police, as long as she will not be a disturbance.
“Kung aayain ako, pupunta ako. Pero ang pinakatanong lang, hindi ba ako makaka-istorbo? ‘Di ba? Kasi ‘yung sa akin, kapag mayroong mga istorbo, lalo lang nako-compromise ‘yung operation,” Robredo said.
“Pero kung sa willingness, willing ako. Kung tingin nila, hindi ako makaka-istorbo, I would gladly be there,” she added.
Aquino, during the press briefing after the first ICAD meeting, asked Robredo to join him in anti-illegal drug operations to give her a first-hand experience of what is happening on the ground.
This, according to Aquino, will help her understand more the campaign against illegal drugs and giver her the opportunity to point out lapses and loopholes in the law enforcement agencies’ approach. (Randell Ritumalta/MM)