Tell it to SunStar: Robredo’s report

By Jesus Sievert

NOW comes Vice President Leni Robredo and her much ballyhooed report she promised to come up with based on her observations during her short stint as co-chairperson of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (Icad).

So, was Robredo’s report factual, instructive and convincing such that it would ultimately change the way President Duterte will be conducting his bloody war on drugs in the remaining years of his term or is it nothing but a rhetorical and political maneuvering for her presidential ambition in 2022?

What many, including myself, wanted to hear from Robredo are facts and figures coming from a comprehensive study by reliable entities that would clearly show why it made her describe Duterte’s war on drugs as a “massive failure.”

Any sensible person would know that the study needed should take some time to compile, considering the breadth and depth of the drug problem in the country. Needless to say that a detailed study of this magnitude involving an archipelagic country like ours cannot just be factually accomplished in a time frame of 18 days or so as co-chair of Icad. Thus, the report is dubious at best and downright absurd at worst.

It would have been instructive had Robredo, in the process of studying or assessing the administration’s war on drugs, got herself immersed not just in the discussion about the enforcement cluster that Icad is mandated to carry out, but also in the accomplishment of the other cluster’s objectives involving justice, advocacy and rehabilitation and reintegration. This is specifically the misgivings that Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) chief Aaron Aquino expressed about Robredo, when the latter came out with her report.

For better understanding, the justice cluster is “primarily responsible for the expeditious prosecution of all drug cases, provision of legal assistance to law enforcement,” and the availability of public attorneys for voluntary surrenders and warrantless arrests during operations. Meanwhile, the advocacy cluster is tasked to conduct a nationwide campaign on the government’s anti-drug policy and related programs, while the rehabilitation and reintegration cluster “shall implement drug rehabilitation programs and ensure the reintegration of former drug dependents and other drug personalities as useful members of society.”

Although Robredo understood that the campaign against illegal drugs has so many aspects, lamentably, her report focused solely on the enforcement aspect, which I consider to be self-serving, if not politically motivated, as it gives her the authority to disparage Duterte for the alleged extrajudicial killings involved in his war against drugs.

Robredo should realize, however, that in order for her report to be convincing and acceptable she should have been holistic in her approach by including in her report the other aspects/clusters under the responsibility of Icad. It cannot be that everything is a failure in Duterte’s bloody and relentless war against drugs. Give credit where credit is due.

Otherwise, Robredo’s report is nothing but a vehicle for her presidential ambition in 2022.

What wishful thinking!