‘United we stand, divided we fall’
INTROSPECTIVE - Tony F. Katigbak (The Philippine Star) - November 12, 2019 - 12:00am

Finally, President Duterte has come to the realization that his war on drugs cannot be won singlehandedly or by several with the same mindset. We’ve all seen it in the past few years. He has a team, but they all share the same thoughts and strategies as him, therefore they all act the same. And as far as we can see, these strategies are not getting it done.

This has been a problem that the President has faced for years. He surrounds himself with the same type of people – those that acquiesce to his way of thinking. While teamwork is good, there is also something to be said for opposing ideas and differing views. After all, if all we know is one way then we will keep applying that strategy even when it no longer works.

Now, at last, the president is welcoming an opposing viewpoint. And not just one that disagrees with his current plan of attack when it comes to the drug war, but one that vehemently agrees and has promised – through her best efforts – that she will put a stop to the killings and bring back due process.

The president has put Vice President Leni Robredo at the head of the anti-drug campaign. In a move that seems completely out of left field, the president is opening the doors to one of his biggest critics and inviting her and (hopefully) her ideas onboard. And we are all waiting to see what the outcome will be.

No one is naïve enough to think this appointment is an act of goodwill or solidarity. I think even the vice president knows that. But they both have a point to prove and they both want this to turn into a win-win situation.

At this point, the president wants Leni onboard so that he can show her how difficult the drug war is and how his aggressive actions are a necessary evil to get results. He hopes that as co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD), she will get a better understanding of what the drug war is really like. Perhaps, in this way, he can get her to see his side.

For her part, the vice president is hopeful that this appointment will allow her to add her methods into the mix and possibly make some changes as to how the administration is handling the war on drugs. I truly hope that the president is really open to her suggestions. His way has not been getting the results he wants. Perhaps by including some of her ideas, they can get to where they both want to be.

On another vein, Robredo who is a devout Catholic can also hopefully serve as a bridge in the simmering war between the Catholic Church and the president. Maybe inroads can finally be made between them and open and candid conversations can finally happen. This is a pipe dream of course, but at this point, it seems that anything might be possible.

That’s the optimistic hope anyway. Most people are seeing this through a jaded lens and saying that the president is just setting the vice president up to fail by putting her in an unwinnable situation. For her part, the vice president is trying to remain hopeful and is not going to let the naysayers get the best of her. Instead, she is going to focus on the task at hand and hopefully put an end to the bloodshed in the war on drugs.

Here’s hoping that they both realize that they can achieve more when they stand together.

*      *     *

We’ve always known that we were never too far from the war raging in other parts of the world. It has just become even scarier hearing that ISIS was active in the Philippines and then even more now knowing that we have active suicide bombers right here on our shores.

Last week government troops captured a suspected Abu Sayyaf member linked to three would-be suicide bombings. The suspect was apprehended and he led troops to nabbing 16 unrigged pipe bombs the exact same type of explosives found on the would-be suicide bombers killed at the military checkpoint in Barangay Kan Islam last week.

Again, we’ve always known that we were part of this ongoing global terror problem, but it feels even more real when we find out about threats like these. This one was averted but what happens when they try again? We have to keep hoping that our troops are able to stop them and remain safe while doing so.

Personally, I know this is an ongoing problem because no matter how hard the world seems to try to clamp down on terror it just keeps cropping back up again – like the hydra of myth. Chop off one head and three more grow in its place.


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