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The Czar Robredo Challenge


It all started when Vice-President Leni Robredo commented that the drug war waged by President Rodrigo Duterte has failed and said that there should be another way to check the drug problem in the Philippines.

Irked, Duterte reacted and declared that he would make Robredo the drug czar and see if she could solve the problem in six months. Senator Bong Go texted Robredo, egging her to accept the challenge.

Robredo retorted that the reaction of Duterte and the text of Go do not hold water if there was no formal offer for her to assume the position.  She added that because Duterte failed in his war that he is now passing the responsibility to her – meaning it was an admittance of Duterte that he really had failed.

It should be noted that during his campaign for the presidency, Duterte, promised among others, that he would end the drug problem in the country within six months when he becomes the president. Three years into his term, he admitted that the problem has worsened. In spite of thousands killed in his Operation Tokhang engineered by former Police Chief, Senator Ronald ‘Bato’ dela Rosa, Duterte himself has admitted that his only sin is the extrajudicial killing (ejk) of thousands of suspected users, most from the poor – shot because they were ‘nanlaban’ (fought back). No known drug lords were killed sent scot-free from jail, and escaped out of the country.

Realizing that Robredo challenged their kanto-boy-like challenge, Duterte was forced to formally appoint Robredo as drug czar to share the power with Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director, General Aaron Aquino. To this, many quarters advised Robredo not to accept the post as it was meant to be a trap for her to fail. Senator Panfilo ‘Ping’ Lacson even advised Robredo to watch her back.

Despite the advice for non-acceptance, however, Robredo accepted the post – apparently to the surprise of the kanto-boys. PDEA Director Aquino said that initially, he feels awkward working with Robredo. Bato said that “hindi pwede ang pa-cute rito.” Go said, “baka i-baby niya yung mga drug lords.” After the meeting with Robredo, Aquino welcomed the role of Robredo even if she does not have the experience. Bato would later question what is wrong with Operation Tokhang after Robredo said that senseless killing must stop. It is as if the killings really worked as, already been said, the drug problem worsened. Go, on babying drug lords, is like saying that the administration did not let drug lords off the hook while killing only thousands of innocent and poor suspects.

So, eventually, Robredo met with the head honchos of the drug agencies. She said she wants first to assess the situation so she can know where they have to start anew. She emphasized that the killings must first stop until they really know where to start. She also said that it appears that the 15 million pesos budget of the anti-drug campaign and sought additional funding.

On her meeting with concerned personnel and entities, including the UN and US ambassadors, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano remarked that he is monitoring Robredo’s war on drugs and all he said that Robredo is “all talk.” It is like he has been monitoring why Duterte has been failing for the last three years. On the budget, Bato reacted, saying that Robredo “must do with what resources you have.” This begs the question – what will Duterte do with his record-high 2020 intel budget of about Php4.5 billion.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon hit Cayetano for the “uncalled remark.” He pointed out that even Malacanang vowed to support and expect allies of the administration to do no less. Thus, politics must be set aside to solve the drug problem that is plaguing the country where thousands have now been killed.

Whether or not Robredo gets the administrative and budgetary support, it is apparent that the Duterte camp would want her to fail. If she succeeds, Duterte and his ilk will be put to shame.

For her to succeed, where Duterte has failed, the following must be done:

  1. Really cut off the supply of drugs. This means the drug lords must be caught and kept in jail. This would include reinvestigating those who had been suspected to be colluding with the lords like Paulo Duterte. He should show his back to reveal that he has no dragon tattoo linking him to the drug-related rings.
  2. Reinvestigate the Bureau of Custom conduits that featured in the alleged smuggling of drugs. Recall Nicanor Faeldon for the vanishing of 6.4 billion shabu issue. Assert that a K-9 dog cannot be wrong in sniffing drugs on magnetic filters.
  3. Assert that Operation Tokhang be supplanted with rehabilitation programs.
  4. Punish ninja cops, including retired PNP Chief General Oscar Albayalde.

Should the administration fail to support Robredo on what she has to do, Robredo will still succeed in exposing why the drug war is a sham and a failure. The more barriers the Duterte administration will place for Robredo to fail, they more Duterte will be exposed as a cuddler of the drug lords if he is not the ultimate lord of the drug lords, himself.

Fail or no-fail, Robredo will succeed to the chagrin of those who made her Drug Czar. Like how she blindsided Bongbong Marcos for the vice-presidency, she will blindside those who initially blurted her into the position of Drug Czar.

Oops! Indeed.

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