Robredo’s world of rainbows, unicorns, and butterflies

Published January 10, 2020, 12:00 AM

by Rj Nieto


Vice President Leni Robredo’s much-delayed drug war report is finally here.

With all the fanfare that preceded it, I was expecting something as bombastic as when the nation in 2017 discovered that the Office of the Vice President through Pete Silva sent propaganda instructions to Robredo supporters, which include attacking Bongbong Marcos and his supporters.

Or maybe as bombastic as that time when the nation discovered a network of Liberal Party-aligned propaganda websites and social media accounts managed by Aquino-era PCOO consultant Cocoy Dayao.

But no. After reading the Robredo report in its entirety, it turns out to be a dud.

Robredo’s “Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) Co-chairperson’s Report” is essentially a compilation of five observations/recommendations, namely:

[1] Robredo wants DDB to head ICAD, currently headed by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

[2] Robredo cited the need for more reliable baseline data, saying that the lack of a sufficiently accurate estimate of drug users makes evaluation of law enforcement’s effectiveness difficult.

[3] Robredo said resources are focused too much “on street-level enforcement,” as the government neglects “prevention, detention, prosecution, rehab, and reintegration.”

[4] Robredo recommended the scrapping of Oplan Tokhang and “entrusting the conduct of house-to-house visits to local institutions.”

[5] Robredo said the War on Drugs, which focuses heavily on supply constriction, has been a massive failure.

The first, second, and third points are matters that she could have easily brought up with ICAD while she was still part of it, and it would not have gotten her fired. These are matters that she could have discussed with other executive agencies while she still had access to the proper forum, so why didn’t she?

Well, I guess she’d rather go on a media blitz than talking to her ICAD peers.

Anyway, let’s go straight to the fourth: Robredo wanting to delegate house-to-house visitation tasks to “local institutions.”

Local politicians themselves profit from the drug trade, so how can we allow local governments, much less local civilians, to prospectively lessen these local politicians’ “paying customers”? Robredo knows this, especially since the Parojinogs of Ozamis are among her political party’s supporters.

Did Robredo just suggest that we hire firefighters from a group of arsonists?

The fifth, meanwhile, is Robredo’s argument that the drug war is a massive failure because total confiscated shabu is but a small fraction (she says 1%) of the total drug market.

Robredo herself admits the absence of reliable baseline data, yet here she is, claiming a figure that could only be reliable if derived from reliable baseline data. Moreover, Robredo failed to take into account the closure of shabu mega-laboratories, like the ones in Catanduanes, Pampanga, Isabela, Batangas, and Cebu City? How much of the nation’s shabu supply disappeared with the closure of these mega-laboratories? Robredo ignored that.

And even assuming that the government managed to confiscate such a minuscule amount vis-a-vis market size, wouldn’t that be an argument in favor of Law enforcement? After all, if the government indeed managed to destroy only 1% of the nation’s shabu, should we stop the anti-drug operations altogether so the market can regain that lost 1%, or should we intensify it even further?

Or is her analysis similar to when she said four times forty is 1,600?

Robredo’s report puts greater emphasis on demand reduction and less on supply reduction, and I can’t help but suspect Robredo’s motives when we juxtapose this with her other suggestion of realigning funding, i.e., moving funds from enforcement to rehabilitation.

If Robredo thinks enforcement (that confiscated only 1%) is not doing enough, then why did she immediately suggest budget cuts on enforcement to fund the rehabilitation budget, when she could’ve suggested a supplementary budget from external sources first?

She could’ve first tried to get more funding from the Office of the President, or maybe more funding from Congress itself, or maybe asking Congress to realign a part of her P673-million to rehab?

Why did she immediately suggest less funding for anti-drug operations, whose targets are the producers of illegal drugs?

Did Robredo lowkey try to protect shabu manufacturers by defanging law enforcement?

After all the drama that preceded it, I expected the Robredo report to rock my world but it didn’t. Instead, what I saw was a supposed anti-drug expert blurted out feasibility-optional recommendations with the hope that these ideas will somehow execute themselves.

More than being riddled with math as bad as the Mmath she complains about, Robredo’s report reeks of inconsistency, contradiction, and naivete.

If anything, the report is evidence that Robredo was part of ICAD for just 18 days or judging from its quality, maybe even less.

For reactions, email tp(at)