WHILE President Rodrigo Duterte may be serious and sincere in offering Vice President Leni Robredo the co-chairmanship of the Inter-agency Council on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD), together with Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Chief Aaron Aquino, one can only wonder what is really behind this abrupt political gambit.
Whether it is accepting the stark reality that Duterte could not deliver what he promised the Filipino people about the eradication of the drug menace a few months after assuming the presidency, and not even after six years of his presidency in 2022, or making Robredo, a fierce critic in Duterte’s deadly crackdown against drugs, look foolish herself knowing that the drug problem in the country is insurmountable without killings, we really would not know what Duterte’s motive is in offering Robredo the title of drug czar.
But whatever Duterte’s hidden agenda is about the offer, I see it as a political miscalculation on his part and a catalyst on the dwindling political persuasion of Robredo, thus, debunking the fear of her supporters and allies that the offer could be a political ploy to destroy her. Needless to say that Robredo sees this offer to co-chair the ICAD committee that includes the police and the military tasked with overseeing and coordinating the government’s efforts to combat illegal drugs as a vehicle for her political revival. There is no doubt that Robredo will try to be different and pursue ardently the idea that the fight against illegal drugs is not about killing but rather the saving of lives.
“We should also look at it not just using the lens of crimes or criminal justice but also using the lens of health and the fact that addiction is a medical and a sociological problem,” Robredo opined.
I don’t think anybody will disagree with her opinion, but she is in a better position now to assess the drug situation in the country, whether or not what is needed is more of medical and sociological attention or much more of the same police operation.
It is a welcome gesture that Robredo expressed her willingness in joining PDEA operatives in anti-drug operations if only to gain firsthand knowledge of what goes on, how critical the situation is and why it so important that one goes inside the lair ready to kill rather than be killed by drug pushers or users who value their prohibited trade more than their lives. From this reality Robredo would be able to outline the steps/procedure to be followed depending on the situation and if she finds each doable and successful without any loss of life, then the nation owes her gratitude big time!
Robredo’s success must be a big blow to Duterte’s macho ego not only because she is a woman, but more so because she did not exhibit braggadocio in pursuing her anti-drug campaign.
Definitely Robredo’s positive achievement will boost her political revival and would even strongly pave the way for her presidential ambition which I am sure she covets. On the other hand if she fails, Duterte can claim back his popularity and can only say to Robredo, “I told you so,” and be assured of a Duterte ally winning the presidency in 2022. (By Jesus Sievert)