Robredo to PDEA: Knowing data on high-value targets is part of mandate
MANILA, Philippines – The request for the data on high-value targets (HVTs) stems from her mandate as the anti-drug czar, Vice President Leni Robredo reminded the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).
According to Robredo, the co-chairperson of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD), she needs to know how many and who are the HVTs so that she can assure an effective implementation of the anti-drug campaign.
“Kaya nga binalikan ko ‘yong functions ng ICAD […] under Executive Order No. 15, ang number one function niya, ensure the effective conduct of anti-illegal drug operations and arrest of high value drug personalities,” she said on DZXL’s radio program on Sunday.
“Ito ang tanong ko, papaano ko ma-ensure nang hindi ko nga alam?” she asked. “Papaano ko ‘to mae-ensure na nahuhuli ‘yong mga high-value targets kung hindi ko nga alam kung ilan ba ang high-value targets, ano ba ‘yong status sa pag-huli sa high-value targets, ano ba ‘yong available na impormasyon?”
(I went back to the ICAD’s functions, under Executive Order No. 15, the number one function is to ensure the effective conduct of anti-illegal drug operations and arrest of high value drug personalities. My question is, how can I ensure if I don’t know the data? How can I ensure that high-value targets will be arrested if I do not know how many they are, if what their status are, and what are the available information?)
Last Friday, PDEA chief Director General Aaron Aquino — Robredo’s co-chair in the ICAD — questioned why the Vice President needed such information, saying it is well outside of their mandate.
“Meron atang hinihingi na lists. One example ‘yung list ng high-value targets. So I think, nag-iisip naman ako bakit kailangan niya in the first place. Wala naman sa mandates namin ‘yun, na kailangan kumuha ng listahan ng high-value targets,” he said in a phone interview.
(She was asking for the lists. For example, the list of high-value targets. So I think why would she need it in the first place? It is not in our mandate that we should get a list of high-value targets.)
Aquino eventually backtracked, saying that he can provide Robredo a list but only in a closed door meeting.
Nevertheless, Robredo still scored her counterpart for airing these things to the media, when she had never told the media about it. She insists that the request for a copy was sent through a private letter addressed to Aquino.
“Alam mo sinasabi nila, na bakit ko sinasabi sa media. Actually ‘yong pag-hingi ko, private na communication ‘yon ng opisina namin, kay Chairman Aquino, dapat sana sinagot na lang nila na ayaw nilang ibigay pero sinabi sa media,” she noted.
“Eh sino yung nagpupunta sa media? Hindi namin hiningi, na ginagamit ‘yong media, ‘yong listahan ng high value targets […] imbis na sagutin tayo, sagutin ‘yong ating sulat sumagot sa media,” she added.
(You know, they are telling me, why am I saying these things to the media? Actually my request was made through my offices’ private communication to Chairman Aquino, they should have just answered us if they do not want to give information but they chose to release it to the media. But who went to the media? We did not ask for the list of the high-value targets through the media, but instead of answering us, answering our letter, their option was to go to the media.)
Robredo and Aquino have not had the smoothest of working relationships. Even before Robredo accepted the offer, Aquino already deemed the Vice President to fail in addressing the drug problem due to lack of experience in law enforcement.
He also backtracked days after, saying that PDEA would be willing to work with Robredo.
During the press briefing that followed Robredo’s first ICAD meeting, Aquino admitted feeling awkward with the Vice President seating beside her — although he justified his earlier remarks, and contradicted Robredo’s opinion on the possible scrapping of Oplan Tokhang.
Aquino, a former police officer, has been supportive of President Rodrigo Duterte’s anti-drug program while Robredo hails from the opposition, particularly the Liberal Party.
Edited by JE
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.