By Rey Panaligan
Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra has clarified the role of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) in the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) that was created in 2017 to spearhead the government’s drive against prohibited drugs.
Guevarra said “the main focus of ICAD is operation/enforcement” of government programs, policies and projects “to suppress drug problem in the country.”
“The reason why its PDEA and not DDB as chair of ICAD is because the thrust of ICAD is operations while that of DDB’s is policy-making,” he said.
“Although there are clusters within the ICAD like Justice Cluster for the prosecution where I am part of. There is the Rehabilitation and Reintegration Cluster, the Advocacy Cluster, and others. By and large, the focus of ICAD is actual enforcement and operations, this is why PDEA. DDB is policy making and it is there in ICAD to provide guidance,” he added.
Guevarra, who was guest in last week’s Kapihan sa Manila Bay Forum, reacted to a statement issued by Vice-President Leni Robredo who said the chair of ICAD should be the head of DDB and not PDEA.
ICAD was created in 2017 under Executive Order No. 15 issued by President 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. The members are, in the order as enumerated in the EO, are: DDB, Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of Justice, Department of Health, Department of Education, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Agriculture, Department of National Defense, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, Public Attorney’s Office, Office of the Solicitor General, Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine National Police, National Bureau of Investigation, Bureau of Customs, Bureau of Immigration, Armed Forces of the Philippines, and Anti-Monet Laundering Council.
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 stressed.
“The President will appoint the task force commander. But, as far as I know, none has been appointed yet,” he added.