EDITORIAL - Learning the art of political finesse

The Freeman

If Vice President Leni Robredo feels uncomfortable with the way President Duterte's anti-illegal drugs initiative is going, particularly the escalating death toll from suspected summary executions of illegal drug suspects, she should have told the president directly instead of going to the media with her feelings and then calling for an investigation.

It is to be assumed that having warmed up to each other, and given the inter-operability of their respective offices, Robredo must have a direct line to the president. She could have called him or called on him about what she feels is going on with his anti-illegal drug campaign. Such a gesture could have gone a long way in building mutual respect for each other, especially since they still have a full six years ahead of them together.

They may not belong to the same political party and he may have some political interests that are apart from hers, but it is always wise and beneficial for two people who have a long way to go together to at least maintain a healthy, respectful and dignified working relationship, not for their own sakes, but for the sake of the country and its people whom they have both sworn to serve.

In other words, it is not right for Robredo to rock the boat, especially this early. True, even Duterte himself has said he wants the killings investigated. But that is he talking - about his own initiative. If he has detected some misapplications about his initiative, let him make the corrections. That is why he called for the probe himself.

It becomes an entirely different thing if another person points out those mistakes to him, especially if the supposed mistakes are pointed out in public - as when Robredo called for an investigation - and by a person who comes from another party who he never really planned to take on board his administration but was only pressured by incessant prodding from media to do so.

Not that it was a bad move for Duterte to bring Robredo on board. In fact, it was a very good thing for him to do so. But having come on board, and after she herself assured him of her cooperation in his initiatives, it was really very uncalled for for her to go public and call for an investigation. Again, if that was what she really felt and wanted, she could have told him in private. And he probably would have appreciated not just her position, but her show of respect as well.

Now, it may not have been the intention of Robredo to ruffle anyone's feathers. But that is precisely what some well-meaning observers mean when they say that Robredo needs to start learning the art of true statesmanship that her high office requires. A person who can be president in a snap if God so designs must learn to gather instead of disperse, build instead of destroy, assure instead of dismay, respect instead of torment. If she must disagree, let it not be in a disagreeable way.

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