‘Disappointed’ Robredo hits PDEA’s Aaron Aquino for being two-faced

Mara Cepeda

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‘Disappointed’ Robredo hits PDEA’s Aaron Aquino for being two-faced
The Vice President reveals a closed-door meeting with the PDEA chief where Aquino supposedly said he needed her in the ICAD because other agencies do not listen to him

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo said that she was “disappointed” over Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) chief Aaron Aquino’s insincerity when they were co-chairs of Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD).

On Sunday, December 15, the Vice President said the PDEA director general repeatedly acted two-faced towards her during her 3-week stint in the anti-drugs body.

“Medyo natatawa ako na disappointed. Disappointed ako kasi PMA-er, Ka Ely, itong si Director General Aquino. Inaasahan mo kapag PMA-er, officer and gentleman. Pero ilang beses nang ang sinasabi sa harap ko, iba ang sinasabi sa media,” Robredo said in her weekly radio show “BISErbisyong Leni” on RMN dzXL together with broadcaster Ely Saludar.

(I am amused and disappointed. I am disappointed because Director General Aquino comes from the Philippine Military Academy (PMA). You would expect someone from the PMA to be a gentleman. But there were many times when he would say one thing in front of me, then say another to the media.) 

Robredo was forced to work with Aquino for almost 3 weeks after President Rodrigo Duterte appointed her as co-chair of the ICAD to lead the government’s anti-illegal drugs campaign on November 6.

The Vice President was barely getting started in her vague and highly politicized post when Duterte fired her on November 24.  

The tension between Robredo and Aquino had been palpable, as the PDEA chief previously said the Vice President would “fail” if she would helm the efforts to combat drugs. (READ: The gamble of Leni Robredo

After Robredo’s sacking, Aquino said she did not make any significant contributions in improving the drug war and she failed to meet with the 4 clusters under ICAD. He failed to mention the Vice President served as ICAD co-chair only for 18 days.

On Sunday, Robredo turned the tables on Aquino and recalled a closed-door meeting with him where he supposedly told the Vice President that he needed her because other agencies do not listen to him. Robredo’s chief of staff, Undersecretary Philip Dy, and other PDEA officials were present during this meeting. 

“Sinabi niya, Ka Ely, na ‘Ma’am, huwag mo kaming iiwan. Huwag mo kaming iiwan kasi maraming nangyayari noong nandiyan ka na.’ Sabi niya, Ka Ely, ‘Kasi ako, iyong sa akin, mahirap pasundin iyong mga ahensya kasi Usec lang ako,’” said Robredo. 

(He told them, Ka Ely, ‘Ma’am, don’t leave us. Don’t ever leave us because a lot of things are happening because you’re there.’ He said, Ka Ely, ‘It’s hard to make other agencies follow me because I’m just an Undersecretary.’) 

She then told Aquino that she would not leave the ICAD, unless she is fired from her position. Two days after this conversation with Aquino, Robredo was fired by Duterte. (READ: Robredo’s sacking as anti-drugs czar won’t silence her: ‘I’m just getting started’

The Vice President is set to hold an Ulat ng Bayan press conference on Monday, December 16, to publicize her recommendations to improve Duterte’s bloody war on drugs, which has so far killed thousands in both legitimate police operations and vigilante-style killings.  

Robredo said publicly releasing her findings is better than Duterte leaving her reports as ICAD co-chair unread. – Rappler.com 

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.