Tell It to SunStar: Leni’s brilliant move

By Democrito C. Barcenas

AGAINST the advice of her friends and allies and amid the taunts of her detractors, Vice-President Leni Robredo accepted the offer of President Rodrigo Duterte to co-chair the Inter-agency Committee on Anti- Illegal Drug (ICAD).

When President Duterte offered the vice-president the position as “anti-drug czar,” I was one of those who expected her to decline the offer. Many shared my view that her designation was a trap and that ultimately, she would lose her credibility as an opposition leader and fiscalizer.

But when I listened to Leni’s explanation when she accepted the president’s offer, I was totally convinced of her sincerity and commitment especially on the issue of extra-judicial killings. Robredo said that she was against the “killing of the innocent” and “abuses committed by officials.” She vowed to continue the war on drugs with the same intensity but promised that it would be within the rule of law and the bounds of human rights.

Leaders of the Roman Catholic Church who have been vocal against Duterte’s bloody war on drugs readily supported the move of Leni Robredo to pursue the war on drugs within the bounds of law and with due respect for the sanctity of human life. The Makati Business Club threw its full support to Vice-President Robredo and hoped that the president and the vice-president can work together for the eradication of the drug menace with emphasis on the rehabilitation of drug users and the punishment of drug pushers.

The US Embassy has expressed its total support to Vice President Robredo in her non-bloody war on drugs, especially in the field of intelligence gathering. Clearly, there is now a snow-balling support and assistance being extended to the vice-president in her humongous endeavors.

Leni Robredo’s vow to stop the killings of the innocent and to lead the war on drugs to save lives and bring the killers to justice, is a refreshing wind in a long suffocating night of extra-judicial killings. It is a brilliant strategic move to heal a nation that has been deeply divided on how to pursue the drug war. It deserves the support of all citizens who want an end to the narcotic problem without resort to violence and bloodshed.

What may have precipitated this welcome development on this current war on drugs?

President Duterte may perhaps be truly exasperated on the seemingly insolvable drug problem. In Cagayan de Oro City last March, he expressed his dismay on the failure of the police to stem the tide of drug addiction. The police, Duterte’s main instrument in his war on drugs, has become unreliable after the expose of former top police official and incumbent Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong linking top police officials to “ninja cops.”

Vice-President Leni Robredo has shown moral courage in assuming a huge responsibility whose success or failure seems uncertain. But she is not awed by the immensity of the problem, saying that saving one human life from extra-judicial killing is enough reason for her decision to accept the position.

The sceptics say that Leni will fail in her job because the administration may set her up for failure by the simple expedient of not appropriating sufficient funds for the ICAD. There is even a strong possibility that President Duterte or his minions might sabotage the vice-president’s efforts in solving the drug problem. But I have high hopes that this time, the administration and the opposition can work together for the good of the nation.

VP Leni is a leader who does not shirk from any challenge if she thinks it is for the good of her country which had endured a bloody war on drugs that had cost thousands of innocent lives. I have no doubt she will succeed. She has all the qualities essential to effective leadership: boldness, imagination and strength of character.