BY JULLIE Y. DAZA
“A chair is still a chair, even when there’s no one sitting there,” from a song composed and sung by Barbra Streisand.
The issue of the day is not an empty chair but two co-chairs heading the 20-headed ICAD. Between the two, who’s more equal? The Vice President or the Director General of PDEA (whose rank is undersecretary)? As predicted, the early days of their partnership have been anything but smooth. Ms. Robredo has been hogging the headlines, not her fault but journalists whose job it is to get the news and uncover what’s new. Between and among the personalities involved, including the President and his spokesman, and the VP and her spokesman, there’s plenty of talk to go around. It’s a drag.
Where does this leave the drug lords? In their luxurious caves, they must be having a gleeful time listening and twiddling their thumbs; no need to heckle, just carry on with the business and enjoy the show.
Two heads better than one? Let’s go back to the beginning. At the start of their partnership, DG Aaron Aquino said the four clusters of ICAD would be divided into advocacy, rehabilitation, and reintegration under the VP, and law enforcement and justice under himself. Nearly two weeks later, we’ve not heard if such division of labor is acceptable to the VP. Ms. Robredo has gone as far as getting an education from foreign experts but she has obviously not asked her partner to define her role in the cluster and its parameters, if that’s what it’s going to be. Is General Aquino too much of a gentleman to remind her?
What seems clear is that she would rather wage war on the battlefield than fight behind the scenes, e.g., educating the young to fortify them against the dangers of addiction, giving surrendered addicts a new life after rehab, preparing them to be reintegrated into society.
Senator Panfilo Lacson thinks the strategy should be to reduce supply. Counselors in rehab centers believe that reducing demand will be a good start. The two opposites are as far apart as east and west, but until our warriors decide which way to go, the drug war is stymied, looking more and more like a word war.###