PDEA chief says better off leading drug war without Robredo, cites gap in posts

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 12 2019 01:05 PM | Updated as of Dec 12 2019 01:06 PM

MANILA- Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director General Aaron Aquino said Thursday he is better off leading the government’s narcotics crackdown without Vice President Leni Robredo at his side.

Aquino shared the leadership of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) with Robredo for nearly 3 weeks before President Rodrigo Duterte fired her earlier this month.

While Robredo did an “OK” job as co-chair, Aquino said her position as vice president made it uncomfortable for him to work with her.

“Masyadong malayo 'yung aming designation para maging co-chair ko siya so nahirapan ako,” Aquino told reporters.

(I had difficulties because there was a huge gap between our posts.)

“If and when sana 'yung ka-partner ko eh same level with me, mas madali sana. Para bang ‘vice president ka eh ako [undersecretary] lang,’ parang ang hirap makitugma minsan,” he added.

(It would be easier if my partner was also on the same level as me. It’s difficult to work with her since she’s a vice president, and I’m just an undersecretary.)

Aquino admitted that Robredo’s exit was a sigh of relief for him as he had more leg room for leadership.

“Of course, medyo nawawala 'yung pressure kasi once na andiyan siya (Robredo), I really feel uncomfortable din kasi nga vice president siya,” the PDEA chief said, noting that there is no need for an ICAD co-chair.

(The pressure went away because I really feel uncomfortable whenever she is around because she’s the vice president.)

Duterte axed Robredo from the ICAD earlier this month because she allegedly used the post for “grandstanding.”

Following her exit from the ICAD, Robredo promised to release a report of her findings and recommendations on the drug war.

“If there is then I urge her to open up. Hindi kailangan itago (there’s no need to hide), kung ano man 'yung discoveries na nakita niya (whatever discoveries she had) whether good or bad for the administration then go [release it],”

Robredo, who earlier criticized Duterte's drug war, pushed for a community-based rehabilitation that treats drug addiction as a public health issue and not a purely law enforcement problem. She is set to release her drug war report next week.

The administration's drug war has been criticized by both local and international organizations for killings of drug suspects. Government has defended the campaign, saying those slain had resisted arrest.