PDEA chief: Robredo will fail as anti-drug czar


    VICE President Leni Robredo will fail in the war against illegal drugs because she lacks the experience to handle the complex narcotics problem.

    This was the stinging statement of Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) chief Aaron Aquino yesterday in his belated reaction to President Duterte’s offer to make Robredo his government’s anti-drug czar.

    Interviewed over CNN Philippines, Aquino said: “If you’ll ask me, I think she will fail… The vice president doesn’t have that, wala siyang kaalaman sa iligal na droga (She has no knowledge when it comes to illegal drugs).”

    “Do you think when the vice president assumes as the anti-drug czar, the killings will end? What if there will be more killings? What if that (more killings) happen?” he also said.

    He short of said that Duterte was the best fighter against the drug menace, saying the President was equipped with enough skills to spearhead the campaign against the narcotics trade and cited his achievements in Davao City as prosecutor and mayor.

    Duterte offered the post to Robredo last week in reaction to the latter’s criticisms that the war on drugs was “obviously not working.”

    Robredo has refused to respond to the offer just yet, saying she will wait for a formal offer from Malacañang before making her decision.

    Reacting to Aquino’s statement, Robredo’s spokesman lawyer Barry Gutierrez said: “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? 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 can you seriously take the offer to be the drug czar when this early, VP Leni is already being negatively judged by those people who are the primary enforcers of the campaign? How will she succeed if those people she will be working with have already prejudged that she will fail? It is now becoming clear what the real agenda was when the offer was made.)

    Aquino, a retired police general, has served under the PNP for 36 years before being named the PDEA chief. He said it was only during his stint with the PDEA that he fully understood the problem on illegal drugs.

    “It’s only now when I became director general of PDEA that I have known what is the real problem on illegal drugs. In my 36 years of service with the PNP, I never learned, even half, of that (problem),” he said.

    Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. rebuked Aquino and said experience is not a necessary attribute for someone to lead the anti-drug campaign.

    Locsin referenced the case of the “ninja cops” who he noted had a lot on experience on handling illegal drugs cases yet still failed the PNP and the country by engaging in corrupt and criminal practices.

    “Last thing you want is experience in the drug trade as the ninja cops showed. What you need is resolution, courage, incorruptibility as exemplified by President Duterte and an iron resolve to exterminate the drug trade,” Locsin said.

    But while he does not see Robredo succeeding as anti-drugs czar, Aquino said he will support the Vice President if she accepts the job.

    “If she accepts the position, definitely PDEA will give 101% support to our vice president.

    Whatever support we are giving to the President, we will likewise extend it (to the vice president),” Aquino said.

    “We will coordinate with her always and we are going to do everything we can to support the vice president 100 percent,” he added. – With Ashzel Hachero