Robredo must lead a people’s war against illegal drugs

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Vice President Leni Robredo pays courtesy call on President Rodrigo R. Duterte at the Malacañan Palace, afternoon of July 4, 2016. (KING RODRIGUEZ/ Malacañang Photo Bureau)

Robredo, to our mind, comes at a perfect time when the police organization is undergoing a cleansing phase among its ranks. Those recent Senate probes on the ninja cops issue created enormous doubts in the minds of the public. With Robredo leading the charge, she must create a People’s Front Against Drugs– that one element that is lacking in the government’s anti-illegal drugs campaign. 

What Robredo did yesterday reminded me of another woman figure in history who, in the absence of her husband to continue on the fight, she un-sheathed her sword and went onto the battlefield to fight the colonial invaders.

I am referring to Gabriela Silang, the iconic Tinguian woman who challenged Spanish colonial power when her second husband, Diego was assassinated.

Like Gabriela, Robredo assumed the challenge put forth by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to join him in the drug war. As co-chairman of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Drugs or ICAD, she now joins its chairman Aaron Aquino in setting the pace and tempo of the campaign against drug syndicates.

Analyzing Robredo’s decision, we find that the decision was spurred more of the realization of Robredo being in a “besieged position.” Besieged in the sense that Duterte’s dare hits at the very heart of criticisms against Robredo and her political party, the Liberals. It is a situation that is best described as “damned it if you do, damn it if you don’t.”

The core criticism against the Liberals is the propensity of just “talking” sans the “walking.” Robredo had now proven to all that she had the “balls” so to speak, to confront the challenge head-on.

With Robredo joining the anti-drugs fight, in the minds of the public, this has now further elevated the drug problem to a national public discourse. We expect that Robredo’s act would electrify and would raise the morale of honest law enforcers to fight these big syndicates.

More than this though, Robredo to our minds, fits perfectly in the anti-war campaign. Her speech says it all. She brought to the table the whole of nation approach–that one thing that is lacking in the anti-drugs campaign in the first place.

Instead of involving various sectors in the fight, the Duterte administration instead attacked the ranks of the poor and vulnerable sectors. It alienated itself by implementing barangay ZONAs re-packaged as “TOKHANGS”– thus, strengthening instead of weakening the grassroots apparatuses of these drug syndicates.

One of the reasons why these syndicates continue to operate their illegal activities within these communities is the fact that these syndicates acted as protectors of the people against state security forces who frequently harass and disrupt the lives of the poor and the weak.

Robredo therefore, must lead a people’s united front against drugs and galvanize all patriotic forces under her mantle.

A consolidated people’s force would surely put an end to these syndicates. First, Robredo must realize that this drug problem is not just a social health issue but moreso, an economic one. She must think of the entire drug network as an economy of scale–hence, subject to the laws of the market and of supply and demand.

Robredo must be familiar with the economic actors that comprise this structure– there are producers as there are consumers.

The Duterte approach has concentrated on the grassroots distribution system first. Wrong. Without touching both the producers and the consumers, expect the drug supply to continue.

With the people behind her, expect the demand side to dwindle, through constant intervention of experts in local communities.  Health experts must be mobilized in each and every community to help end or lessen addiction levels.

On the producer and financiers camps, however, this requires the active intervention of special operatives whose sole task is the elimination of the ranks of illegal drug producers and their financiers.

After neutralizing or at least diminishing the capabilities of the producers, and  protecting consumers from the influence of drug syndicates, the final step is the neutralisation of the distribution system, again, this requires special skills of our police and state security forces.

Robredo’s task therefore is become the unifying force of all sectors who want to end or at least lessen to manageable levels drug menace that afflicts the poor and the weak among us. Robredo must do a Silang— provide the purity that the anti-drugs campaign lacks, Marshall all state resources to eliminate this problem which has become a state security concern. Involve even big companies in the fight. That is precisely the value of Robredo–introduce the whole of nation approach in the drug war.

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