PDEA chief: Leni entitled to own opinion

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    IT was the first time for Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) chief Aaron Aquino to be accused of not being a gentleman.

    Aquino yesterday said Vice President Leni Robredo was the first person to say that as a graduate of the Philippine Military Academy, it was disappointing that the retired police general turned out to be not an officer and a gentleman, as most graduates of the PMA are expected to be.

    “She is entitled to her opinion. But she’s the first to say that in my whole life,” Aquino said after Robredo slammed her on Sunday for being two-faced.

    The Vice President had lashed at Aquino for his supposed insincerity, saying he was nice to her during their meetings as co-chairmen of the Inter-agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) but constantly criticized her when facing the media.

    Robredo had expressed disappointment at Aquino and said she was expecting him to be an officer and a gentleman because he was a PMA graduate.

    Aquino said he accorded respect and courtesy to Robredo during her brief stint as his ICAD co-chair.

    Aquino said he felt awkward with Robredo as his co-chair at ICAD but said he respected her because she is the vice president and was appointed by President Duterte.

    He added he had also asked ICAD members to “make the necessary actions” on the recommendations of Robredo, including the need to have an accurate baseline data on the government’s war on drugs.

    Stinging from Robredo’s comment, Aquino got back at her and belied her statement that he begged her to stay as ICAD co-chair.

    “I didn’t say she should not leave us. It was the Vice President who said that she will stay as long as the President wants her to retain her post as ICAD co-chairman. Maybe the VP only got mixed up by the turn of events,” Aquino said.

    The Vice President on Sunday said that two days before the President fired her as ICAD co-chair, Aquino, in front of her chief-of-staff Undersecretary Boyet Dy and the PDEA staff, told her that he does not want her to leave the ICAD.

    “Sinabi niya… ‘Ma’am, huwag mo kaming iiwan. Huwag mo kaming iiwan kasi maraming nangyayari noong nandiyan ka na.’ Sabi niya… ‘Kasi ako, iyong sa akin, mahirap pasundin iyong mga ahensya kasi Usec lang ako.’ (He said… ‘Ma’am, don’t leave us. Don’t leave us because a lot of things have happened when you came.’ He said… ‘Because it would be difficult for me to order the agencies because I’m just an Undersecretary),” Robredo said.

    Robredo said she then assured Aquino that she had no plans to leave “unless the President removes me.”

    “Hindi ako magre-resign, iyon iyong ma-a-assure ko sa iyo, puwera na lang kung tanggalin ako. Iyon nga, two days after, tinanggal ako (I won’t resign, that I can assure you unless the President fires me. That said, I was fired after two days),” she said.