Wilkins Villanueva is new PDEA chief

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 26 2020 09:33 PM | Updated as of May 26 2020 11:45 PM

PDEA NCR Regional Director Wilkins Villanueva narrates his side on the raid with the Bureau of Customs during a hearing on the†drug shipment from China worth P6.4 billion at the House of Representatives on Tuesday. The illegal drugs†were†contained in roller printers that passed through the Bureau of Customs' green lane, which have relatively†relaxed security checks. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA (2nd UPDATE) – President Rodrigo Duterte has appointed Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) North Mindanao director Wilkins Villanueva as new director-general of the anti-narcotics agency.

The President signed Villanueva’s appointment paper on May 22, according to a copy seen on Tuesday.

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea confirmed the appointment of Villanueva. He didn't explain why outgoing PDEA chief Aaron Aquino was replaced.

PDEA spokesperson Derrick Carreon said Aquino was "relieved" and did not step down.

"We all know that movement in key positions in government offices is the sole prerogative of the President. In this case, outgoing DG (Director General) Aquino will be assuming another position in the bureaucracy, but we are not at liberty to disclose further details po," he said in a statement.

Villanueva thanked Duterte in a Facebook post.

“After almost 2 decades of serving our country on the field of DRUG LAW ENFORCEMENT through different capacities and positions both with PNP Narcotics Group and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, I finally achieved what I was aiming for... DIRECTOR GENERAL OF PDEA,” Villanueva wrote.

“My utmost gratitude to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte for giving me his trust and confidence to lead our country's WAR ON DRUGS. I will never fail you MR. PRESIDENT!”

Aquino meanwhile said he was grateful to the President for giving him the opportunity to serve the public.

“I sincerely thank President Rodrigo Duterte for his trust and confidence and for giving me the opportunity to serve our people and his administration,” he said in a statement.

“I also thank the men and women of PDEA for their support to my leadership and dedication to the agency.” - With reports from Pia Gutierrez and Joyce Balancio, ABS-CBN News