LAST Nov. 24, Vice President Leny Robredo who had just worked for two weeks as
co-chair of Icad (Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs) was unceremoniously fired by President Rodrigo Duterte.
She started to work by meeting with members of the Icad requesting access to the list of the governments’ high-value targets in the illegal drug trade. Law enforcement members of the committee objected, saying the information was classified since it involves “state secrets.”
The Vice-President also made it clear that she’s for scrapping Bato de la Rosa’s “Operation Tokhang,” the door-to-door campaign that has been blamed for the extra-judicial killings of thousands of suspects. She wanted a credible data to serve as a “common baseline” for assessing the progress of the antidrug campaign which she considered as a “public health approach.”
Within a week from being appointed as Icad co-chair, Robredo met with officials of the International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs of the US State Department, the US Drug Enforcement Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the US Agency for International Development.
For her efforts to have a bloodless crusade against drugs, Robredo earned the admiration and cooperation of the media, civil society and the leaders of the Catholic Church who have denounced Duterte’s bloody war on drugs.
But barely had the Vice President demonstrated her determination to pursue her noble aims as
anti-drug czar, she became the target of attacks from administration allies and even from Duterte himself who called her “grandstanding scatter-brain.” She earned the envy of her erstwhile rival for the vice presidency, Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano who called her anti-drug drive as no more “tokhang but “all talk-Hang.”
It is now clear that Duterte’s offer to Robredo to be an anti-drug czar was given out of pique when the latter assailed the former’s bloody war on drugs in an interview with the news agency Reuters. The offer was not well studied and when Duterte and his allies started to realize that Robredo’s achievements have eclipsed the administration, they started to sabotage her, because her success will be their Achilles heel in the 2022 presidential elections.
But many political observers say that Robredo’s position as anti-drug czar is not only a threat to the administration’s candidate in 2022, but will also enable her to discover the deep involvement of Duterte’s close friends, allies, and the police in the drug business.
Robredo’s brief stint as anti-drug czar enabled her to discover some records unbeknownst to the people and might damage the administration. The Vice
President has promised to make a report to the nation on what she knew as Icad co-chair. But in deference to the on-going SEA games which we are hosting, Robredo postponed her report until after the games are over.
The nation is waiting with bated breath on the coming report promised by the Vice President. The coming days will prove whether Duterte’s war on drugs is a real or bogus war. (Democrito C. Barcenas)