Duterte promotes PDEA Northern Mindanao chief Wilkins Villanueva as new director general

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 26) – Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Northern Mindanao regional director Wilkins Villanueva is now the agency’s new director general.

President Rodrigo Duterte signed the appointment papers of Villanueva last May 22 which were released to the media on Tuesday.

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea also confirmed Villanueva’s appointment as the new PDEA Director General.

Villanueva expressed his gratitude to the President in the promotion and vowed to continue the fight against illegal drugs in the country.

“My utmost gratitude to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte for giving me his trust and confidence to lead our country's war on drugs. I will never fail you Mr. President,” said Villanueva in his Facebook post.

Prior to his stint as PDEA Region 10 director, Villanueva served as PDEA NCR director during the first months of the Duterte administration at the height of the Oplan Tokhang anti-drug police operations.

When former PDEA Director General Isidro Lapeña was named Bureau of Customs head in September 2017, he brought with him Villanueva to lead the bureau’s Customs Intelligence and Investigation Division.

Villanueva resigned from the BOC three months after Lapeña ordered a reshuffle among his men at Customs. Lapeña was later transferred to the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority as director general in October 2018, a post he holds to this day.

Villanueva is a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1985. He will replace Aaron Aquino, who was appointed PDEA Director General in August 2017.

PDEA Spokesperson Dir. Derrick Carreon clarified that Aquino did not step down from his post.

“In this case, outgoing DG (Director General) Aquino will be assuming another position in the bureaucracy but we are not at liberty to disclose further details,” said Carreon.

Aquino was involved in a controversy last year when he accused former Philippine National Police chief Oscar Albayalde of intervening in the dismissal of “ninja cops” in Pampanga, who allegedly participated in a questionable anti-drug operation in 2013.

In a statement, Aquino thanked Duterte for giving him the chance to lead the country’s anti-drug agency.

“I sincerely thank President Rodrigo Duterte for his trust and confidence and for giving me the opportunity to serve our people and his administration. I also thank the men and women of PDEA for their support to my leadership and dedication to the agency,” said Aquino.