MALACANANG wasn’t prepared for her to say yes.
It was clear from the ensuing bedlam that Malacañang wasn’t prepared for Vice President Leni Robredo saying yes to taking on the vicious war on drugs. It started with President Duterte being his onion-skinned self, when he took offense at the Vice President’s observations about the failure of his much-vaunted war on drugs.
The metrics are fairly simple: according to Malacañang, drug addicts were estimated to be around 2 million when they took over in June 2016. Depending on who you listen to, that number has now ballooned to 4 million to 7 million despite this government’s bloody war on illegal drugs. It has left thousands dead in its wake, with the PNP grudgingly admitting that the unsolved number of murder cases are piling up. If thousands have surrendered, as the administration would have us believe, then why are their own figures going up?
After much taunting and needling from Presidential Stuntman Salvador Panelo and their allies, VP Robredo did the unthinkable: she accepted the position. You know how it is when watching a horror film in the cinema, silently willing the protagonist not to open the door with the monster behind it? That pretty much encapsulates my misgivings about the entire thing. We all know that it’s a trap laid out by the administration to sully the Vice President, setting her up to fail. But we (myself included) forget that the VP is no stranger to hardship. She snatched the trap from the jaws of malice and made clear to everyone why she took it on: if only to save a singular innocent from slaughter. To ignore all warning of impending danger for the opportunity to help others is indeed an admirable path that the Vice President has chosen.
From the get-go, Robredo managed to snatch the narrative away from the administration.
She knows that under no circumstances will the incumbent declare any success from her participation, which is why it was quite clever of her to put out her own measure of success. Robredo’s entry into the fray will certainly help shine a light in the darkest and murkiest parts of this war, and help bring a modicum of transparency in how this administration conducts its bloody business.
I harbor no optimism that this task will be a walk in Central Park, but the silver lining is that Robredo will now be on the inside, in a better position to call out every move these people make. It’s prime positioning that will enable her to present better alternative solutions to the problem at hand.
Right now I’m fairly sure that the bright boys along the Pasig are now lining up multiple landmines for her to step on, trying to subvert her efforts at every turn. Already the online propaganda machinery is in overdrive, working round the clock to smear her statements left and right. By now we know that the machinery works harder whenever its principals are vulnerable in any issue, moving to cover up the gaffe or blunder.
As the days go by, it will only be a matter of discovering what wrenches (I’m willing to bet good money that the wrenches will come with the monkeys) the administration will throw Robredo’s way. I’ve no doubt that she will ably dodge these wrenches and lob them back, much to the consternation of the monkeys that threw them. For years now, the public has been kept away from the inner workings of this policy that has orphaned so many Filipino families, and it is high time that we see the hands of those responsible for this farce, and not just the tragic result of their actions. I wish you well, Madame Vice President.