Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said he will leave it to the drug enforcement agencies to decide who will be given access to the list of high-value targets (HVTs) in the campaign against illegal drugs, including Vice President Leni Robredo, who now serves as co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-illegal Drugs (ICAD).
Nograles said that although the Vice President co-chairs ICAD, agencies such as the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) are being extra careful in sharing the list with to avoid endangering national security.
“We will leave it up [sic] to the drug enforcement agency to determine kung sino ba yung may access dapat sa mga listahan (who or who cannot have access to the list),” Nograles said.
“They’re keepers of the list so accountability and responsibility will be theirs if there will be a compromise on the list.”
“You have to understand yung (the) sensitivity of the list at siyempre, sila yung (of course they’re) keepers of the list e so yung accountability and responsibility ay ultimately nasa kanila kung magkakaroon ng compromise sa listahan (will be theirs if there will be a compromise on the list),” he added.
Earlier, PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino has expressed willingness to show the sensitive list to Robredo but only for a good reason and in a closed-door meeting.
However, PNP Officer-in-Charge Lt. General Archie Gamboa said it is up to Aquino to share the confidential information or not.
Robredo said she would not insist to have access to the list, but stressed that she has no intention of revealing any sensitive information that would pose security risks.
President Rodrigo Duterte, who offered Robredo the ICAD post, warned that he could remove the Vice President as ICAD co-chair should she divulge sensitive information that could harm national security.
Nograles, meanwhile, echoed the remark made by presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo that Robredo need not attend future Cabinet meetings if the drug problem is not on the agenda.
“Kung di naman nag-i-involve yung agency, yung regular attendees lamang ang (If the agenda of the meeting does not involve that agency, then only regular attendees are) automatically expected to attend our Cabinet meetings,” he said.
Robredo’s spokesperson, lawyer Barry Gutierrez, maintained that it remains unclear whether the Vice President’s designation as ICAD co-chair is a Cabinet position. Gutierrez said it is not indicated in the memorandum which granted Robredo the position.
Although he could not confirm nor deny whether Robredo was indeed given a Cabinet position, Nograles said being appointed as co-chair of ICAD gives her “sufficient” power to call for meetings with drug enforcement agencies.
“President Duterte was the one who appointed her so it’s really up to him.”
“He’s (Duterte was) the one who appointed her so it’s really up to him. It’s his intention as appointing officer. Maybe ang ibig niyang sabihin [co-]chair siya ng ICAD but not necessarily Cabinet Secretary,” he said.
Nograles said it was best to wait for Robredo’s appointment paper to confirm whether or not she was indeed given a Cabinet rank.
“She’s already calling meetings with anti-drug agencies as co-chair of ICAD. Binibigyan naman siya ng suporta ng lahat ng mga ahensiya na kasama sa ICAD (And she is being given support by agencies that are part of ICAD),” he said.
“As long as co-chair naman siya ng ICAD I think that’s sufficient. And the fact that she is able to call meetings means she’s already doing her job as chair of ICAD,” Nograles added.