2022 PH presidential race

Robredo backs drug tests: 2022 bets must have ‘moral authority’ to combat drugs

Mara Cepeda
Robredo backs drug tests: 2022 bets must have ‘moral authority’ to combat drugs

ROBREDO IN QUEZON. Presidential aspirant and Vice President Leni Robredo is welcomed by her supporters in Quezon province on November 19, 2021.

Office of the Vice President

Presidential aspirant and Vice President Leni Robredo refuses to fuel speculations the President was referring to her rival, Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Presidential aspirant and Vice President Leni Robredo renewed her support for subjecting electoral bets in the 2022 polls to a mandatory drug test, saying they must have the “moral authority” to effectively combat the problem. 

The Philippine opposition leader was once again asked about her stance on mandatory drug tests for presidential bets on Friday, November 19, after no less than President Rodrigo Duterte accused an unnamed aspirant with a famous father of allegedly using cocaine

Observers have said the President may have been alluding to Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Robredo’s rival and the standard-bearer of the Chief Executive’s own daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte.

“Pabor ako rito (drug testing) at dapat hindi siya nakaplano, dapat biglaan para hindi napapaghandaan. Papaano kasi natin malalabanan iyong droga kung wala tayong moral authority para labanan ito? Kailangan iyong tao magtiwala sa amin,” Robredo told reporters in a chance interview in Quezon province. 

(I am in favor of this and it shouldn’t be planned, it should be a surprise so no one can prepare for it. How can we fight drugs if we don’t have the moral authority to do so? The people must be able to trust us.)

Robredo likened this to addressing corruption, wherein a leader who doesn’t steal money from the people can be more expected to focus on nipping the root causes of the problem.

“Hindi natin malalabanan iyong korupsiyon kung ang nakaupo ay hindi malinis. Kaya kung lalabanan natin iyong droga, pinaka-una dapat iyong nagko-call the shots ay malinis,” said the Vice President. 

(We wouldn’t be able to fight corruption if the person in power is not clean. So when it comes to combating drugs, foremost is that the person calling the shots should be clean.)

Other presidential aspirants, including Marcos himself, senators Manny Pacquiao and Panfilo Lacson, and Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, are all in favor of mandatory drug tests for 2022 bets. 

The Commission on Elections did issue a resolution in 2008 requiring drug testing for all candidates, but the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional.

Show evidence and file a case, not public rants

Robredo refrained from adding fuel to the fire caused by Duterte’s remarks, but she believes the President must publicize his evidence against this presidential aspirant instead of just ranting about it in his speeches.

“Ayaw kong pumatol. Ayaw kong dagdagan. Iyong sa akin lang, kung mayroong ebidensiya, kailangang ilabas. Kung mayroong ebidensiya, kailangang kasuhan kasi ito iyong nakasaad sa ating batas. Hindi dapat ito dinadaan sa ganitong paraan,” Robredo said. 

(I don’t want to stoke a fire. I don’t want to add to it. For me, if there is evidence, then it must be released. If there is evidence, a case must be filed because this is what is stipulated under the law. Don’t resort to tactics like this.)

Robredo had beaten Marcos in the 2016 vice presidential race by just 263,473 votes, prompting the son of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos to later allege cheating and file an electoral protest against her.

The Supreme Court, packed with appointees of Duterte, unanimously junked Marcos’ protest in February 2021. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.