PDEA chief welcomes Robredo as 'drug czar' a day after saying she will fail

PDEA chief welcomes Robredo as 'drug czar' a day after saying she will fail
PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino previously said he thinks Vice President Leni Robredo will fail if she will lead the government's anti-narcotics campaign.
The STAR / Geremy Pintolo, file

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director General Aaron Aquino has welcomed the new role of Vice President Leni Robredo in the government's campaign against illegal drugs a day after saying she does not have the experience for it.

A memo released to the media Tuesday confirmed that Robredo had been designated as co-chairperson of the Inter-agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs.

"PDEA welcomes the designation of VP Leni Robredo as co-chairman of ICAD," Aquino said in a statement.

Aquino, just a day ago, said he thinks the vice president will fail of she accepts President Rodrigo Duterte's offer for her to lead the drug war.

In an interview with CNN Philippines Monday, Aquino said Robredo does not have knowledge about illegal drugs nor enough experience to address the drug problem.

A day after he said this, the PDEA chief said Robredo can be of big help to the ICAD, which coordinates government agencies on the anti-narcotics campaign.

'Advocacy, rehabilitation and reintegration'

"Nakikita ko mas magiging effective siya pagdating sa advocacy at saka doon sa rehabilitation and reintegration cluster," Aquino told radio dzMM Tuesday afternoon.

(I can see that she will be effective on the advocacy as well as the rehabilitation and rehabilitation clusters.)

The ICAD, created in 2017 through an executive order, has four clusters — law enforcement, advocacy, justice, and rehabiliation and reintegration.

Asked if the PDEA will be open to suggestions, Aquino said his agency will give its "101% support" to the vice president.

Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III, meanwhile, said Robredo's designation as co-chair of the ICAD will be an opportunity for her to see why the war on drugs cannot be stopped.

"Deliver or not, the point is for her and her advisers to realize that the war on drugs cannot be stopped," Sotto said.

Robredo previously called for a review on the drug war, which a Reuters report headlined "Philippine vice president says time for Duterte to halt failed drug war."

This triggered Duterte to challenge her to take charge of the anti-narcotics campaign instead.

The vice president later on clarified that she wanted the government to tweak and review the drug war and not stop it.

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