‘Watch your back,’ Lacson tells Robredo after anti-drug czar appointment

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 9)— Days after Vice President Leni Robredo took on the challenge to lead the administration’s controversial drug war, Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson dished out a piece of advice for the top official: “watch your back.”

Maraming ano, napasukan niya siyempre maraming character. Sabi ko especially ang pulis sari-saring character. She should really watch her back all the time,” Lacson told reporters Saturday, when asked for his “word of caution” for the Vice President.

[Translation: There are a lot of characters, especially the police, there are different characters. She should really watch her back all the time.]

Robredo on Wednesday accepted her appointment as co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD)—a post offered by President Rodrigo Duterte himself.

Despite fears of her fellow opposition members, Robredo said she decided to help the administration’s flagship campaign against illegal drugs, with the promise to implement reforms.

Lacson previously said he agreed with the Vice President’s suggestion for anti-drug operatives to focus their strategy more on the “supply constriction side” rather than demand reduction-- “after more than three years of hitting hard” on drug users and pushers.

READ: Robredo on UN probe: 'Problems should first be solved internally'

Robredo to join drug ops? Security an issue

While the Senator welcomed the idea of Robredo joining the on-ground anti-drug stings, he said there’s a possibility the operations may be compromised due to the security issues.

“That could be arranged kasi interesado siya pero huwag naman ano, kasi ma-compromise ang operation kung kasama ang VP mismo from start to finish kasi sa security pa lang nakakalat na security niya mate-telegraph ang operation,” Lacson noted.

[Translation: That could be arranged since she’s interested, but the operation may be compromised if the Vice President joins the operation from start to finish. With the security, the operation may be telegraphed.]

“But they could make some arrangements paano sasagawa ‘yan (how we can do this),” he added.

Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) chief Aaron Aquino on Friday challenged Robredo to join the drug operations for her to “have a feel” of how law enforcers work on the field. The Vice President welcomed the invite, saying ICAD has agreed to take forward-looking measures in the anti-illegal drugs program.

Government data shows more than 6,000 people have been killed in anti-illegal drug operations since Duterte took office in July 2016. Local and international human rights groups say thousands more have died in extrajudicial killings as a result of the President's public pronouncements, a claim Malacañang has repeatedly denied.

CNN Philippines' Joyce Ilas and Alyssa Rola contributed to this report.