Robredo will fail as 'drug czar', says PDEA chief

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Robredo will fail as 'drug czar', says PDEA chief
In this Oct. 15, 2019 photo, Vice President Leni Robredo addresses the media after the Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, announced its latest action in relation to the electoral protest filed by losing candidate Bongbong Marcos.
OVP / Charlie Villegas

MANILA, Philippines — The head of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency believes Vice President Leni Robredo will fail should she accept President Rodrigo Duterte's offer to accept an unspecified Cabinet position and lead the government’s campaign against illegal drugs.  

“If you ask me, I think she will fail,” Director General Aaron Aquino, PDEA chief, said in an interview on CNN Philippines Monday.

Aquino said the vice president said does not have knowledge about illegal narcotics nor enough experience on how to address the country’s drug problem.

“I’ve been in the Philippine National Police for 36 years. I’ve been in PDEA for more than two years. It’s only now that I became the director general of PDEA that I have known what is the real problem on illegal drugs,” he said.

The PDEA chief added: “Experience-wise, this has been my job for 38 years. The vice president doesn’t have that experience.”

Duterte, long-time mayor of Davao City, on the other hand, has enough experience to lead the campaign, Aquino said.

But Aquino said the agency will give "101% support" to Robredo should she accept the president’s offer.

'Drug czar' offer

Barry Gutierrez, Robredo’s spokesperson, slammed Aquino for expressing doubt that the vice president can lead the anti-drug campaign. Should Robredo accept Duterte's offer, she will work closely with the PDEA chief. 

“Paano ka namang maniniwala na seryoso itong alok na maging 'drug czar' kung ngayon pa lang, sinisiraan na agad si VP Leni ng mga taong dapat magpapatupad ng kampanya laban sa droga?” Gutierrez said.

(How will you believe that the offer to become a 'drug czar' is serious if the vice president is badmouthed by the people who implement the campaign against illegal drugs?)

He added: “Paano magiging maayos ang trabaho mo, kung ngayon pa lang, yung taong makakasama mo sa trabaho ay ayaw kang magtagumpay? Mukhang nagiging malinaw kung ano talaga ang totoong agenda sa usapang ito.”

(How will you do your job well if the people who will work with you don't want you to succeed? It seems the true agenda of this issue is becoming clear.)

Last week, Duterte claimed he would be transferring his “law enforcement powers” to Robredo after the vice president’s call for the administration assess and tweak the strategies used in the government’s war on drugs.

Robredo refused to comment on the offer, saying she is not sure if it is serious.  

The president then renewed his offer to lead the drug war, saying he is ready to appoint Robredo in a Cabinet capacity as drug czar.

The position of drug czar does not exist as an official rank or title in the Philippine government, although it is sometimes used colloquially to refer to PDEA chief.

But the vice president’s camp stressed that Robredo should not be used as a scapegoat for the shortcomings of the administration’s campaign.

“This admin made the impossible promise to end crime and drugs in six months, and if they are now being called to account for their failure to deliver, they should not blame VP Leni for it,” Gutierrez said Thursday. 

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