By Chito Chavez
Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director-General Aaron Aquino on Tuesday vowed to “extend 100 percent of his support’’ behind Vice President Leni Robredo, who was designed by President Duterte to be his co-chair in the inter-agency body against illegal drugs.
President Duterte signed the memorandum appointing Robredo as the new Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) co-chairperson on October 31.
In a statement, Aquino, the current ICAD chairman, noted Robredo could “well contribute to the advocacy and rehabilitation/reintegration clusters”.
However, Aquino’s declaration seemed contrary to his earlier pronouncement that Robredo was not abreast with the supply reduction efforts and lacked experience in dealing and working with law enforcers.
“So basically she has a lot of catching up to do and in the process PDEA is afraid that it will somehow derail its efforts and operations,’’ Aquino said in a previous text message.
Given the gravity of the problem on illegal drugs, Aquino said Robredo will have difficulties in addressing issues on alleged extrajudicial killings (EJK), drug clearing of barangays, smuggling and drug trafficking.
But on the brighter side, Aquino cited that, given her bright personality, Robredo can be more efficient in the implementation of demand and harm reduction program.
Interior Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said Robredo could help meet the following objectives of the ICAD:
• Advocacy campaign initiatives against illegal drugs;
• Barangay anti-drug clearing operation;
• Cleansing the bureaucracy of unscrupulous personnel involved in illegal drugs.
He noted the DILG would brief Robredo on the conduct of the anti-illegal drugs campaign.
Malaya added that Robredo will also be briefed on the conduct of the anti-illegal drug campaign, and assist all government agencies in sustaining the gains made after the past several years.
“We are confident that as co-chair with PDEA, she will be able to contribute in meeting the objectives of the ICAD,” he added.
“The DILG with DOH (Department of Health) is [the] lead in the illegal drug demand reduction campaign, so we feel that it is in these areas where she can make a significant contribution,” Malaya said.
The ICAD, composed of several government agencies, is tasked with implementing and complying with the administration’s anti-illegal drugs campaign.
Duterte’s appointment of Robredo as ICAD co-chairperson came on the heels of her comments asking the government to reassess its war on drugs.