DANTE Jimenez, chairman of the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission, is indubitably right when he contends that the government’s fight against illegal drugs is not a fit place to station Vice President Maria Leonor Robredo, whom he described as a student who has no doable proposals to address the nation’s drug problem.
There is scarcely room for argument on this point. The illegal drugs problem is a grave national and international problem that confronts almost all nations, and very few have succeeded in neutralizing or wiping out the threat. As a priority law enforcement problem, illegal drugs rank up high alongside the fight against terrorism and insurgency.
The United States started the war against illegal drugs during the presidency of Richard Nixon, and every one of America’s succeeding presidents adopted and continued the war as a matter of policy, and each appointed a noted public servant to serve as drug czar at one time or another. Yet, up to now, America is still reeling from its constantly worsening drug problem, and it certainly is nowhere close to winning the war against illegal drugs.
By the same token, Vice President Robredo, despite her high ranking in the country’s roster of pubic officials, is a total know-nothing on the subject of combating illegal drugs. She has very little experience as a public servant and has spent no time in the study of social problems like drugs.
All this incontrovertibly suggests that President Rodrigo Duterte was probably unserious and mistaken when he decided to offer Mrs. Robredo a leading position in the drug war, as co-chairman of the Inter-agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD).
He was mistaken because it is absurd to send perhaps the most inexperienced official in our government to lead the war against illegal drugs. To the surprise of many, including her colleagues in the opposition, she accepted the challenge.
It is not surprising also that barely three weeks later, the President made the decision to remove Mrs. Robredo from ICAD, as she spent her two weeks in the job to drum up publicity for herself and government critics, and to advance outlandish ideas about ending the drug war and cutting outright certain programs and policies in the ongoing campaign.
It was Walter Lippmann, the great icon of journalism and philosopher of liberal democracy, who declared that amateurs are dangerous in the government service, because all they do is place the government in a self-inflicted straitjacket, which makes government ineffective, makes problems worse and embolden the enemies of state.
Jimenez clearly speaks from a deep concern and understanding of the drug problem, when he says Mrs. Robredo is unfit for the job. He lost a brother via murder to a drug syndicate 29 years ago, and he has been in the frontlines of fighting crime and corruption when he founded and led the notable citizen advocacy group Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption.
He says bluntly: “The government needs experienced people in the fight against illegal drugs, especially those who are knowledgeable about the problem.”
He points out that there is absolutely nothing in Robredo’s background and history that remotely relates to fighting illegal drugs.
When the vice president thought that ICAD was a policymaking body, instead of just a coordinating committee, she showed her amateurism in government.
And when she threatened to flood the President’s office with all kinds of reports on the drug war, she showed that she did not know what war she was fighting and was unsure of which side she was on.