[NEWSPOINT | OPINION] Different breeds
In these dark times Leni Robredo is an odd bright shining light. But President Duterte cannot claim her as a saving grace for his government, although as his vice president she is a part of it.
A part of it officially, that is, but actually nothing to do with it, shut out of it. And that’s not because she is from the opposition – many party mates of hers have been co-opted – but because, being of a different breed, she is a bad fit in a leadership that operates as a gang, with little regard for the rule of law or for people’s rights or lives.
Indeed, Duterte is openly predisposed to dictatorship. But, without having to declare himself dictator, he has been able all the same to get his draconian bidding done, thanks not only to sycophantic lieutenants but to entire institutions, supposedly independent institutions, notably the courts and Congress.
Duterte did give himself an early chance with Robredo; upon taking office in July 2016, he appointed her to his Cabinet as housing secretary. But she was forced to resign before the end of the year: her luminous presence cramped everyone’s style at Cabinet meetings – it exposed everything to her.
Starved of budget and ostracized, she has managed still to show up Duterte, who has remained poor in achievement in spite of an ever-increasing outlay for his office and the rest of the executive department. With materials and services donated by citizens and private groups – she only accepts donations in kind — she has made some difference in the lives of many of the very poor in the very remote islands; in places where there used to be no light or drinking water, for instance, there is now.
She is also prompt to come to the aid of disaster victims. In the current Taal volcano eruptions, on the day following the first outbreaks of the afternoon before, she was on hand with relief supplies. Duterte, on the other hand, appeared only on video, and from elsewhere and with nary a charitable word or gesture to offer. In fact, he was derisive: he felt inspired to mention that Batangas, the worst victimized province, happened to be illegal drug country. He was gross and indecent, too: for a very strange sort of help, he offered to eat ash spewed by the volcano and urinate into its crater.
But, however repulsive the prospect may be of serving under President Duterte, as Robredo herself should have known from her days in his Cabinet, it does not seem to dull her commitment to public duty and service. Only last November he asked her to run his war on drugs in his place, and she agreed, surprising many, surely including Duterte himself. He must have assumed she would refuse and on that assumption built a simpleminded scenario and prepared to brand her, upon her assumed refusal, a coward and pronounce her incompetent to criticize his war.
It’s simply unthinkable that, given the deep strain of the narcissism that marks his psychological disorder, Duterte would allow himself to be seen as a failure, let alone as yielding the generalship of his beloved war to someone like Robredo, a vocal critic of it.
At any rate, Robredo hopped to it. But, on the job for a mere 3 weeks, she was fired, though not before – again, by her natural power of illumination – seeing enough to make a case of misrepresentation and incompetence in the conduct of the drug war. A particularly compelling finding of hers is that the total amount of the top-seller shabu (methamphetamine) seized in the war does not even come to 1% of the total consumption.
At first Duterte apologists disputed the computation, but backed off in the face of ridicule; the computation, after all, only involves two basic mathematical operations, sequenced thus: division, then multiplication. It must be the numbers then, the apologists quibbled on. But those were supplied by the agencies themselves involved in the war.
Well then, a Presidential Anti-Corruption Commissioner now chimes in, impeach Robredo for “undermining” the drug war, by endorsing a review of it by the United Nations Human Rights Council. So goes the commissioner’s pathetic substitute for reasoning: “…she has made it appear [by her endorsement] that the government is guilty of human rights abuses, and that’s betrayal of public trust.”
If anyone has been undermining Duterte’s war it’s Duterte himself. He has allowed the war to get out of hand: 20,000 dead in the first 16 months and 10,000 more since. And to Robredo’s finding: he has let off customs officials on whose watch a shabu shipment worth P6.4 billion ($123 million) slipped by; he has also retained the chief of the frontline agency in his war despite being exposed at Senate hearings as having spared a group of policemen – “ninja cops,” they have come to be called – who had stolen drugs kept as evidence and sold them for personal profit.
In other words, if anyone deserves to be impeached it’s Duterte. And in that scenario, however implausible, the thought of Robredo being first in the line of presidential succession is consoling, if vaguely. – Rappler.com