MANILA—Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) chief Aaron Aquino on Friday challenged Vice President Leni Robredo to join actual operations for a better understanding of the anti-narcotics campaign they were now leading.
Robredo accepted the offer, which Aquino made after she presided over her first briefing as his co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD).
“Gustong-gusto ko 'yan,” she said in their joint press conference after the 3-hour briefing at her office in Quezon City.
Aquino, a retired police general, said joining operations, beginning with the planning stage, would give the Vice President the opportunity to call out lapses by law enforcers.
“Pwedeng challenge ko 'yun sa inyo, ma’am, para at least, makita niyo kung paano nagtatrabaho ang ating law enforcers sa baba and from there, mapi-feel niyo how they work,” he said.
(This can serve as my challenge to you, ma’am, so at least, you will see how our law enforcers work in the field.)
Aquino admitted feeling “awkward” in his first meeting with Robredo, a vocal critic of President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war, which has killed thousands of suspects in a brutal 3-year crackdown.
The PDEA chief earlier cited Robredo’s lack of experience in law enforcement, a point he repeated on Friday.
Rodredo said she had told Aquino “not to worry about me” when they sat down one-on-one before joining the bigger ICAD briefing in the afternoon.
“Sabi ko wag nang pag-usapan yung mga nasabi before,” said Robredo, who struck a conciliatory tone during the meeting but made it clear that stopping “senseless” killings in the drug war had to stop.
(I told him not to talk about what was said before anymore.)
Aquino said he had written the president asking about Robredo’s specific tasks as ICAD co-chair.
“I did this, ma’am, without malice and parang medyo gusto ko lang ng kaliwaganan kasi medyo naguguluhan din ako,” he said.
(I did this, ma’am, without malice. I just wanted clarify because I was also at a loss.)
“I’m also at a loss on what is expected of me,” Robredo replied, but said she opted to “buckle down to work already” while waiting a specific job description from the president.