PDEA, Palace dare Robredo to join drug raids
MANILA, Philippines — Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Aaron Aquino maintained on Sunday his “invitation” for Vice President Leni Robredo to join the antinarcotics operations, a suggestion that Malacañang also backed anew.
Robredo and Aquino are co-chairs of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs. The Vice President accepted her post last Wednesday after President Rodrigo Duterte, piqued by her criticism of his drug war, dared her to lead that campaign.
“I gave her an invitation so she’ll know that what she’s saying that nobody should die in anti-illegal drug operations is impossible,” Aquino told the Inquirer in a phone interview.
“She (Robredo) does not understand what goes on in those (anti-illegal drug) operations,” he added.
“There will be casualties especially if the enemy (drug suspect) is armed and dangerous. The possibility of encounters is high,” Aquino pointed out further, as he cited the policemen and PDEA agents killed in such operations.
“People who enter target areas already have one foot in the grave. There will always be casualties if drug offenders have the intention to fight.”
“We can’t just take the bullets,” he said. “We can’t just allow ourselves to be shot. We need to also protect, defend ourselves.”
Aquino said he would secure the Vice President and would even accompany her.
“I’ll make sure the Vice President is secure. I have experience in securing the President,” he said, citing his eight years in the Presidential Security Group during the terms of Presidents Corazon Aquino and Fidel Ramos.
Should Robredo join the raids, she would be equipped with a Kevlar helmet and bulletproof vest, and would only be able to access a target area after it has been secured and cleared.
But in her weekly radio show, Robredo focused on streamlining the antidrug campaign.
She said she had been going through the Philippine Anti-Illegal Drugs Strategy, which has been created by the Dangerous Drugs Board.
“I think if authorities follow what is stated in the Philippine antidrug strategy, we will be successful,” Robredo said.
“There is still much more to work on,” she said. “But I think my target … by the end of the year, all these aspects are already laid down.”
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Sunday backed calls for Robredo to take part in such operations so she could see how police do their job in fighting illegal drugs.
“I was even the one who suggested that, in a press briefing I said that when she becomes drug czar, she could join the drugs operations so she will see the realities on the ground,” Panelo said. —With reports from Jhesset O. Enano and Julie M. Aurelio
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