In this photo release, Vice President Leni Robredo met with members of the Naga City Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) at City Anti-Drug Abuse Council (CADAC) to ask for updates in their initiatives in their anti-narcotics campaign.
Office of the Vice President, Facebook release
Robredo: PDEA chief supportive in private, dismissive in interviews
Franco Luna (Philstar.com) - December 15, 2019 - 10:59am

MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo on Sunday said she was disappointed with how Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director General Aaron Aquino, whom she said changed his stance depending on who he was talking to. 

Her words came after Aquino's pronouncements on Thursday that Robredo failed to communicate with the clusters in the Inter-agency Committee on Anti-illegal Drugs (ICAD) during her time as its co-chair. 

READ: What role does the ICAD play in the 'war on drugs'?

"Ilang beses na, ang sinasabi sa ikan, iba yung sinasabi sa media," she said on her radio show, BISErbisyong LENI on Sunday. 

(Several times, what he told me was different from what he told media)

The vice president said that the PDEA chief received her warmly at a closed-door meeting attended by her chief of staff Philip Boyet Dy and other PDEA officials.

According to Robredo, Aquino told her at the meeting, "Ma'am, wag mo kami iiwan, kasi maraming nangyari noong nandiyan ka na. Kasi mahirap sundin ang mga ahensiya kasi Usec. lang ako."

(Ma'am, don't leave us, because a lot has happened since you arrived. It's hard for me to follow the agencies because I'm just an undersecretary.)

Robredo said she responded with, "Hindi ako mag-reresign, iyon ang ma-aassure ko sayo, pero nalang kung tanggalin ako."

(I won't resign, that I can assure you of. But I can't do anything if I'm removed.) 

She added that many others present at the meeting heard this exchange. 

President Rodrigo Duterte removed the vice president from her position just two days after this supposed exchange. Her tenure as co-chair of ICAD lasted just 18 days. 

"Medyo natatawa ako, na-disappointed, kasi PMA itong si Director General Aquino. Inaasahan mo pag PMA yan, officer at gentleman," Robredo said in her radio show. 

(It makes me laugh a little and it makes me disappointed, because Director General Aquino came from the PMA. You would expect that someone from the PMA would be an officer and a gentleman.) 

Doubt from the start

Aquino previously said he thought Robredo would fail if she were to lead the government's anti-narcotics campaign.

"Wala siyang kaalaman sa ilegal na droga," he told reporters. 

But after the vice president's appointment to her former position, the PDEA chief was quoted as saying, "The members of ICAD are happy and we expect that she will make a call within the week and hopefully we can brief her on the accomplishments that were made by ICAD for the past years."

"As I’ve said to the members of the ICAD, let’s give our full support to the Vice President so that we can finally address the problem on illegal drugs working together," he added. 

Robredo herself said she expected that level of mistrust entering her position. 

Even President Duterte made clear his mistrust for Robredo, saying at a press conference that her access to information would only be on a need to know basis. 

"Ine-expect kong maraming resentment. Ine-expect ko na maraming mistrust [...] Pero iyong sa akin, hindi sa akin personal," Robredo told reporters in response to Aquino's statement denying her access to documents on PDEA's high-value target list, or a list of alleged big-time dealers.

(I was expecting a lot of resentment, mistrust but to me, this is not personal.)

'Not a challenge' 

The president first challenged Robredo saying he would give her law enforcement powers for six months. This was after the vice president criticized the chief executive's so-called 'war on drugs' saying it needed a little 'tweaking' because its current methodology wasn't working.

Robredo has repeatedly said she supports the campaign against illegal drugs but prefers a health-based approach.

READ: 'Our enemy is drugs, not the people': Robredo hails Bataan's rehab-based anti-drug campaign 

Robredo's later appointment, though, materialized in the form of a position as the co-chair of ICAD. 

In response to her removal 18 days in, Robredo at a press conference in her hometown of Naga in Camarines Sur said that her campaign for a bloodless anti-drug campaign would continue and that she was only getting started. 

She announced that she would be releasing a report of her findings and recommendations during her time as ICAD co-chair. In her radio show, she said this would be coming "by tomorrow."

"Bakit kailangang iba yung sinasabi mo sa akin at iba yung sinasabi mo sa media?"

(Why do you have to tell me different things from what you tell the media?) 

RELATED: 'No one should feel threatened': Robredo to release 'drug war' report next week

AARON AQUINO ICAD INTER-AGENCY COMMITTEE ON ANTI-ILLEGAL DRUGS LENI ROBREDO PHILIPPINE DRUG ENFORCEMENT AGENCY
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