PDEA chief admits “uncomfortable” working with Robredo
The head of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) on Thursday admitted that he felt "uncomfortable" working with Vice President Leni Robredo when she was still his co-chairperson at the Inter-agency Committee on Anti-illegal Drugs (ICAD).
“It’s hard for me to dictate because she is the vice president and I’m only an undersecretary. Second, I cannot also dictate what she should do or not. I just told her to meet (the other clusters) so when she started meeting with other groups, I cannot stop her,” Director General Aaron Aquino said in an interview with reporters.
Aquino said it is better if he will work with someone who is the same level as him.
“So it’s understandable for you why (I feel that). Our designation is far from each other for her to become my co-chair,” he said.
Robredo stayed as ICAD co-chair for only two weeks after she accepted President Rodrigo Duterte's offer to be the anti-drug czar on November 6.
The President fired the vice president from the post after she met with international groups such as the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime as well as the United States Embassy.
The PDEA chief said it is less pressure for him now but admitted that Robredo can do a lot for the advocacy and rehabilitation clusters.
“Because once she’s there, I feel really uncomfortable. Because she is the vice president but her recommendations were good that’s why I told her it’s better for her to be more on the advocacy and rehabilitation because she can accomplish a lot there,” Aquino said.
Aquino said there is no need for a co-ICAD chair and also for the vice president to be their consultant.
During the #RealNumbersPH presentation in Malacañang, Aquino said meeting the other groups before the ICAD clusters was one of the “missteps” the vice president committed.
“The vice president failed to meet the other three clusters when she started to meet other international counterparts like US Embassy and UNODC. That’s why maybe she was misinformed… should she meet the four ICAD clusters, her scope of knowledge in terms of illegal drugs situation in the country will be broader,” he said.
“The problem- I am not sure if she was overwhelmed from a lot of invitations. She started going around rehabilitation centers, going to barangays without finishing consulting the ICAD. She should finish all the clusters before meeting other people,” he added.
The PDEA chief also disclosed that Robredo refused to accept the high-value target (HVT) list that he is giving her during their meeting.
“There are two thick books on my side, I told her: Ma’am I’m giving you this list of HVT, more than 12,000 of that are HVT… and the other book is the accomplishment of all law enforcement agencies on HVT. That’s more 8,000 arrests… but unfortunately she refused to see the HVT list of PDEA for the reason that she told me: DG I still don’t know the scope of my authority. I don’t know if I need to know that or not,” Aquino said.
Aquino said there is also no need for her to have the list since not all the ICAD members, and even him, have the list.
“Even if she has access to the HVT (list), I think she cannot find anything there… As the ICAD chair, I didn’t need to know what is there or who is in the list. What is important is my people are complying with the targets every month that they should commit (to the) number of HVT to be arrested. That is what is important,” he said.
Asked about the “discoveries” that Robredo will be presenting on December 16, Aquino said he sees no problem and even urged her to continue on her presentation.
He said it may revolve around the report she submitted to the president.
“If there are (state secrets), I urged her to open up. There is no need to hide what she discovered whether good or bad for the administration, then go,” he said.
Aquino said during their ICAD fellowship, he already gave the members the list of recommendations the vice president gave to the president.
“Last Tuesday, we had ICAD fellowship… and during that time, I presented to the ICAD members her recommendations. I told them that if it could be beneficial to ICAD, why not? Let’s follow her recommendation. I distributed the letter to all ICAD members and asked them what we should comply there,” he said.
“I told them by January they should give me answers on the recommendation of the vice president,” he said. Ella Dionisio/DMS