It’s a trap

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    LAST week we talked about how Philippine President and the world’s possibly oldest man-child Rodrigo Duterte all but admitted that his “war on drugs” is an abject failure, and in so doing attempted to drag Vice President Leni Robredo into his farce by first offering a full surrender of his police powers to Robredo, only to later retract his statement and change the offer to that of being a “drug czar.”

    As of this writing, Duterte has made the “offer” official, designating Robredo as co-chairman of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs, or ICAD, via a memorandum addressed to Robredo and the members of the committee.
    Ah, where to begin, where to begin?

    First, Robredo doesn’t need this “designation.” What Robredo needs is a back massage, because she’s been carrying the load for this Duterte regime. She has been at the forefront of poverty alleviation programs and, recently, of relief operations for calamity-stricken Mindanao. And why wouldn’t she be? It’s not as if Robredo chooses who to help based on geographic location or political affiliation, unlike some people we know.

    Secondly, keep in mind that Robredo is “designated” as “co-chair.” Why a designation, and not an appointment?

    Because a co-chairman position in the ICAD doesn’t exist.

    Executive Order No. 15 series of 2017 created the ICAD and provided for its organizational structure in Section 1. Surprise, surprise – no co-chairman. Logically, it follows that there is no procedure for, say, resolving deadlocks in case the Vice President is at loggerheads with the current chairperson, PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino. Sure, they could always come to some kind of power-sharing agreement, or delineate areas of power and responsibility, but let’s face it: any agreement they can come up with is strictly non-binding and ultimately illusory, just like all of Duterte’s “3-6 months” promises.

    Which brings us to the third issue. The entire underlying framework of EO 15 is one that treats drug use, and by extension drug addiction, as a crime issue, rather than as a health issue as Robredo suggests. How then is Robredo supposed to implement any program she might have in mind if EO 15 doesn’t enable the ICAD to support such programs?

    It is an exercise in futility.

    Yes, I know, this entire Duterte regime is an exercise of futility. But that doesn’t mean he has to drag everyone down with him.

    This designation comes hot off the heels of Duterte’s embarrassment at the APEC Summit in Thailand, the string of natural disasters in Mindanao, and the recent harassment of a commercial vessel by the Chinese Coast Guard within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone. Is the Duterte regime just out to create a new distraction?

    Duterte’s spin doctors are calling this move genuine and sincere. Sure it is, if by “genuine and sincere” they mean “a malicious attempt to undermine Robredo.” Unless Duterte amends EO 15 to enable it to carry out a health-based anti-illegal drug program, then Duterte is all but guaranteeing that Robredo will fail should she accept this designation.

    And with that failure will come the avalanche of propaganda aimed at discrediting Robredo as the campaigns for 2022 unofficially start.

    Don’t take the bait, Vice President Robredo.

    It’s a trap.

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