Nalzaro: Herculean task; Will Leni succeed?

Bobby Nalzaro

I THOUGHT it was only a joke when President Rodrigo Duterte offered to Vice President Leni Robredo the position to lead the anti-illegal drugs campaign of the administration. But it was for real and the vice president gladly accepted the offer with pride and vowed to take it seriously. Though, Robredo said she has yet to revise the strategies adopted by the Duterte administration on the war on drugs to avoid the loss of lives. No more killings, especially innocent people and those minor players in the illegal drugs industry.

Robredo co-chairs the Inter-agency Committee on Illegal Drugs (Icad) with Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Aaron Aquino. This is based on Executive Order I5, signed by the President. In the formulation of Icad, there is the function of law enforcement, rehabilitation, justice and advocacy.

Under the function of law enforcement, Robredo will supervise the anti-drugs operations in coordination with various law enforcement agencies like PDEA, the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the National Anti-illegal Task Force. Meaning, the vice president has a big and vast role in the government’s anti-illegal drugs campaign.

For me, the centerpiece in the campaign against illegal drugs is law enforcement. We should focus on this aspect to hit hard people responsible for the proliferation of illegal drugs. We are not dealing here with ordinary criminals, but big-time drug syndicates and drug lords, not only locally based but abroad.

These syndicates are willing to spend huge money and kill people if necessary to achieve their evil desire and to protect their illegal industry.

Robredo said she accepted the offer of Duterte because she might save the lives of innocent people. Save the life of a criminal or drug peddler? So, she has a standing order to law enforcement agencies not to shoot or fire their guns if necessary.

If this is the case, our law enforcers will get discouraged because they cannot even protect themselves from criminals. Which is more important, the life of a criminal or law enforcement?

She said she accepted the offer as a drug czar even as she expected resistance from the administration to thwart her progress. She said, “Even if we say that this offer is playing politics and that agencies will not follow me and they will do everything for me not to succeed, I will bear everything because if I could save at least one innocent life, my principles and my heart are telling me, I should give this a try.”

Under the Duterte’s war on drugs, thousands of people involved in the illegal drug trade have been killed. Robredo wants this approach reviewed. No more iron fist policy, but rather using a “kid job” approach. I doubt if she will succeed with her “soft approach.” Wala man gani masulbad karon nga grabeng patay. Kana lang hapuhap lang?

Other aspects in the campaign against illegal drugs like educational and rehabilitation are just secondary. But the most important and vital thing is law enforcement. The market and demand may be reduced by curbing those syndicates responsible for the distribution.

And the very people behind this are powerful and influential. They have strong connections to the powers-that-be. They even penetrated the government bureaucracy. They have contacts in law enforcement agencies, prosecution, judiciary and rehabilitation.

Why cannot we control the proliferation of drugs inside our penal colonies even though the movement of people inside are restricted? Because of corruption.

This is a Herculean task or a very extremely difficult task for Robredo. I don’t know if she will succeed even if there is total support from the government. I’m afraid that the Philippines will become a narco-state in the future. God forbid.