EARLIER this month, President Rodrigo Duterte designated Vice President Leni Robredo as “drug czar,” or co-chairperson of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (Icad).
The memorandum, which validated Robredo’s designation, signed on Oct. 31, 2019, stated that she shall hold the position until June 30, 2022 when Duterte’s term ends; or unless “soon revoked.”
Upon hearing about this, I directly applauded the decision. I saw it as a perfect opportunity for our country’s President and Vice President, the two most powerful individuals in the land, to finally bury the hatchet and work hand-in-hand to solve our country’s most prominent problem.
Quoting from my grandfather, Oscar Tan Sr., “a united action of these two leaders is definitely, better than one.”
I also saw it as a golden chance for Robredo to prove herself, given that she has criticized Duterte’s “war on drugs” in her radio show— stating that it is “not working”. She added, though, that she hopes she can “assess what’s wrong with what we’re doing.” This Cabinet post is the ultimate chance for her to achieve this.
However, over the course of this week, things did not go as planned. In a press conference on the evening of Nov. 19, the President said he did not appoint Robredo to a Cabinet post for the reason that he did not trust her—mainly because she was “with the opposition.” He also cited that he disliked her action of talking to foreign institutions, such as the United Nations (UN), right after she was appointed.
Robredo responded by writing a letter to President Duterte before the aforementioned press conference. She requested for him to clarify her mandate as Icad co-chairperson, so she may perform her role accordingly and contribute productively to his campaign. She also made it clear that she will leave her post if told, but will nonetheless continue working as long as it is expected of her.
Personally, I still hope that this is not the end of the road for Robredo. She should still be given a shot to function in the Icad, so she can fulfill her goal of “assessing what’s wrong with the [campaign],” and produce the necessary solutions to improve it. She certainly has the credentials to contribute productively, being a lawyer and, again, I see no unity more powerful than the President and Vice President trusting one another and working hand-in-hand. I am just hoping that President Duterte will finally put his faith in Robredo’s capabilities, and see what she can accomplish—it may be for the better. At the end of the day, according to American rock star Billy Joel in his 1986 single, “it has always been A MATTER OF TRUST.”