'Her success is our success'
Her principal beef with the campaign against illegal drugs is the brutal method employed. Now that Vice President Leni Robredo has decided to accept the challenge of leading the war on drugs, she has promised to address this aspect of the controversial campaign.
The parameters for measuring the success of this aspect of the war are much clearer than for gauging the success or failure of the campaign. The drug menace has been around for centuries, and no country can honestly claim to have completely eradicated it. The best that can be done is to ensure a sustained campaign, to reduce drug trafficking and addiction, the corruption engendered by the drug trade and the damage it inflicts on the social fabric.
Even drug-related killings are not new. Those engaged in the illegal but highly lucrative trade do kill each other as well as suspected police informers. Drug dealers do kill anti-narcotics cops, and some do fight back or resist arrest violently, endangering the lives of arresting officers or nanlalaban.
What’s new is the scale of the drug killings, and a seeming propensity of the police to take legal short cuts in nailing down drug suspects, shooting to kill and asking questions later. The Philippine National Police counts about 6,000 drug-related killings since the start of the Duterte administration; human rights advocates believe the total is over four times that number.
Stopping the violence is something that the Vice President can do, now that she has been put in charge of the war on drugs. A significant drop in the number of drug-related killings in the next six months can already be considered a success in her own strategy of waging this war.
As for the other aspects of the war, the Vice President can succeed only if she gets full support from the administration. This includes all the authority she needs to order law enforcement agencies to carry out the campaign in the manner that she wants. Before accepting the appointment, she had pondered warnings that she was being set up for failure. The administration must show that such concerns are baseless, by giving the new anti-drug czar all the support necessary for this war.
Following Robredo’s acceptance of the offer, the presidential spokesman declared: “Her success is our success.” The same can be said for the country and its fight against illegal drugs.