Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has expressed support behind Vice President Leni Robredo’s decision to accept the position as co-chair of the committee against illegal drugs to ensure the government’s success in winning the anti-narcotics campaign.
De Lima, a known human rights defender, said Robredo’s acceptance of Mr. Duterte’s designation for her as co-chairperson of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) would legitimize the right policies against illegal drugs.
“Kahapon iniisip ko pa kung gaano ka-walang hiya ang panloloko na ginagawa ni Duterte kay VP Leni sa pag-alok sa kanya ng pekeng kapangyarihan bilang co-Chair ng ICAD,” she said in her recent Dispatch from Crame No. 643 issued last Nov. 6.
“Pero ngayong tinanggap ni VP Leni ang posisyon, hindi ko mapagtanto ang aking galak sa posibleng pagbaligtad ng takbo ng pamamalakad sa baluktot na drug war,” she added.
In a letter dated last Oct. 31, Duterte, through Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, designated Robredo as co-chairperson of the ICAD, which she would share with Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) chief Aaron Aquino.
Despite warning from Robredo’s allies that Duterte’s offer could be a trap to ensure her failure, the Vice President accepted the Chief Executive’s offer for her to address the country’s drug problem through her new designation last Nov. 6.
Robredo said her primary consideration in accepting the offer was the chance to help end the unprecedented deaths under Duterte’s violent war against drugs, which has already killed an estimate of 27,000 without undergoing due process of the law.
“Now the ball is in the administration’s court. As VP Leni accepted the role offered to her, the President and his underlings need to fall in line and give the VP all the help that she needs to succeed,” De Lima said.
With Robredo at the helm of ICAD, the lady Senator from Bicol said she is confident that the only thing preventing the country’s success against illegal drugs would be unscrupulous and corrupt politicians standing in the Vice President’s way.
“Lubos akong umaasa na sa VP Leni na ating nakita, narinig at napanood ngayong araw [Nov. 6], maipapamalas na sa atin sa wakas na ang salot ng droga ay maaaring sugpuin kung ang namumuno ay hindi siya mismo ang nag-aalaga ng mga drug lords at nagpapawalang-sala sa mga opisyales at kamag-anak na shabu-smugglers,” she said.
“Sa wakas, maaari nang mapatigil ang patayan, ipahuli ang mga totoong drug lords, panagutin ang mga smuggler sa Bureau of Customs at sa Davao Group, ipakulong ang mga abusadong pulis, buwagin ang mga death squad at iligtas ang mga pamilyang mabibiktima pa sana ng drug war,” she added.
Aside from legitimizing the right policies against illegal drugs, De Lima said Robredo could provide genuine solution to the country’s problems because “she will bring compassion where there is none; and leadership and direction where it is needed.”
Amid Robredo’s acceptance of the drug post, the former justice secretary said the public should still continue exercising vigilance in ensuring that the Vice President gets the right support she needs in addressing the country’s drug menace.
“The question for our government is ‘What now?’ Will PDEA and PNP give her all the information and support that she needs? Will the DOJ sincerely prosecute cases against true druglords and corrupt politicians alike?” she asked.
“Will Congress give her office the budget that they have so generously given the Office of the President in the name of the ‘War on Drugs’? If the answer to any of these is ‘No,’ then Duterte’s failure in the campaign against illegal drugs is all but sealed,” she added.