[OPINION] Fight back, Filipino: Pushing back against the dumbing down of politics
It was too good to be true. VP Leni Robredo had accepted the President’s dare to lead the regime’s flagship campaign on drugs, and yet she was denied vital cooperation, information, and the resources to tackle the task that had taken the President more than half his term without much success.
Now barely 3 weeks into the job, President Duterte, true to form, had again changed his mind and uttered the inevitable, “You’re fired!”
Push back against the dumbing down of politics
The signs were there for all to see. All the President’s men seem to have conspired to set up all kinds of obstacles, employing a torrent of critical views even as Robredo had barely begun her work of first listening to different institutions that had experience in drug issues, and to the stakeholders who were engaged in the work and needed to align their facts and pursue a more effective approach.
But such is the “dumbing down of politics” in our midst, that one after another the allies of the President were singing from the same hymn sheet and falling all over themselves in nullifying VP Leni’s efforts of getting up to speed on the historic task she had decided to take on. Thus, when the President himself pointed out the VP's “missteps” in her first weeks as co-chair of the inter-agency dealing with drugs, insinuating that he never trusted her anyway, it was clear even before he uttered the words that he had decided to let VP Leni go. He was never ready for a VP Leni to lead the charge in a campaign that he had boasted was to be his regime’s signature achievement. (READ: Robredo writes Duterte: Make my role clear so I can work)
VP Leni was right all along: they were not ready for her!
As VP Leni ran the gauntlet, she did not flinch; and, as one brave woman who thrives in the heat of battle, she never for a moment thought of retreat or resignation. It was she who framed her acceptance by announcing that she was ready to work on the task ahead, hoping to save at least even one human life. She knew all along the limitations she faced. Indeed, she said it best: “I am ready, but the question is: Are you ready for me?” (READ: The gamble of Leni Robredo)
Apparently, the President and his minions were afraid of the systematic and rigorous methods that VP Leni was bringing to the task. She was data-driven, engaging in an evidence-based process, consulting widely, ensuring inclusivity in her approach, bringing together a constituency and igniting a “conspiracy of hope” that had hitherto been absent in the campaign against illegal drugs. Here was a woman with rock-solid credentials, geared to bring together the elements of a sustainable program. (READ: PNP: We saw nothing wrong during Robredo's weeks in ICAD)
VP Leni was making a difference even before she could put together all the elements of a strategic plan that was to be the result of reasoned reflection dealing with drugs.
But, I suspect, President Duterte was not really interested in the success of the campaign against illegal drugs. He was more interested in the uninterrupted pursuit of the “war on drugs” and the VP be damned if she was to be another casualty of this so-called “war without end.” (READ: [EDITORIAL] Ang patibong para kay Leni)
It is now time for our youth to be heard
VP Leni’s focus was on the future, and the future belongs to the young. It is for this reason that now is the time to address our youth. The line has been crossed, and what the President’s actions have demonstrated is that what we are engaged in is a struggle for the soul of our country; we must strive to retrieve what is best in the Filipino. We can no longer be taken for a ride, and the issue is bigger than the fate of VP Leni – no matter how brave and noble she is.
It is now time for every citizen who refuses to be cowed and defeated, and strives to recapture the spirit of our heroes, to take a stand and do what must be done. Courage! – Rappler.com
Ed Garcia is a framer of the 1987 Constitution, a former professor at the Ateneo and UP, and a consultant for formation at FEU. He has worked at Amnesty International and International Alert in the UK.