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TURNING POINT: How Not to Succeed

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (MindaNews / 21 Nov) – Stamping out the drug menace is one of the centerpiece programs of the Duterte administration. The drug problem undermines the physical, mental and spiritual health of the people and the peace and stability of society. The promise to end it, as well as that of the endemic corruption, catapulted the mayor of Davao City to the highest post of the land.

After three years in the frontline of the drug war, the President who vowed to kill did kill. His war already claimed thousands of lives. Despite, however, the killing rampage on drug users and pushers, the commerce of illegal drugs remains very much alive now permeating every nook and corner of the archipelago, indicating that the bloody campaign fails to deliver. It does not help that his very own trusted lieutenants in the campaign were themselves embroiled in drug scandals. Wearied and apparently frustrated by the evident failure of his campaign and embittered by the criticisms against it, the President dared his primary critic on the conduct of the drug war, the Vice President, to take over as the country’s drug czar, with a cabinet post that goes with it.

We all know the power of a czar. If she were the drug czar, she would have at her disposal all the resources of the government needed to fulfill her mission—information, men and machine. When she, however, bit the bullet—when she accepted the challenge, the position earlier dangled to her was downgraded to a co-chair of an anti-drug committee, with an undefined mandate. Regardless, she accepted the position sans complaints and reservation. Of course, as a co-chair of the Interagency Committee against Illegal Drugs (ICAD) she could only do much in coordination with the other co-chair.

You can’t expect much from a committee. It is often simply a discussion group to recommend to a high authority a course of action on something. Nothing more. It is not even proper for it to make a follow up on its recommendations. How can the VP meaningfully contribute to the war on drugs in the circumstance she finds herself? In her post at ICAD, the VP finds out she does not even have free access to data or information which could be vital in crafting policies to innovate or develop a new approach to the drug campaign.

In the minds of many VP Lennie Robredo is the country’s drug czar because that was the position originally offered to her. That sticks in the mind not the committee co-chair downgrade. It looks like VP Robredo was appointed to the post at ICAD in order to fail.

We can’t really help but wonder. Was the downgrade made to make the position impotent as not to disturb the untouchables in the lucrative commerce of drug? What explains this cowardly reluctance to really go after the big guns of the enemy? Is there a sinister plan for this country to remain forever drugged? (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. William R. Adan, Ph.D., is retired professor and former chancellor of Mindanao State University at Naawan, Misamis Oriental, Philippines.)

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