PDEA chief: Robredo's drug war report 'a mere political attack'

MANILA, Philippines – "Saddened" by Vice President Leni Robredo's scalding report on the anti-drug campaign, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Aaron Aquino accused her of politicizing her brief stint as co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD).

"Eighteen days as ICAD co-chairman yet she has dismissed and ignored all of our government's accomplishments and efforts for the past 3 years. I see her recommendations as a mere political attack against President Rodrigo Duterte," Aquino said in a statement sent to reporters on Monday, January 6.

Why the condemnation? Aquino was reacting to Robredo's exit report as ICAD co-chair, which she presented earlier on Monday.

The Vice President called Duterte's landmark program a "failure."

Robredo also recommended that Aquino be stripped of his leadership of the ICAD, and have the Dangerous Drugs Board chairman, who is currently retired police general Catalino Cuy, as the replacement. The ICAD was created through a Duterte executive order and the President would have the final say.

What the PDEA highlighted: While Robredo called for a holistic approach to ending the country's drug problem, the PDEA insisted on looking at the following "metrics for success":

What the PDEA did not mention: It did not include the over 5,500 drug suspects killed in anti-drug operations since Duterte assumed office. This figure is according to police.

Human rights groups, however, estimate the killings to reach up to 30,000, including those allegedly spurred by Duterte's threats against drug users and dealers.

Robredo camp strikes back: The Vice President's spokesperson Barry Gutierrez fired back at Aquino, urging him to read the entire 41-page report before commenting.

"The report is clearly based on empirical evidence. If they disagree with it, they should prove their point through evidence as well. Otherwise, it is obvious who is really politicizing the issue," said Gutierrez. – Rappler.com

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.