If ever anti-drugs czarina Vice President Leni Robredo would be in the company of President Rody Duterte in a Cabinet meeting, it would have to be all about the drugs problem and the entire official family would be listening.
That’s the only occasion that Rody has given her to speak out her mind regarding the state of governance.
So, what will Robredo say before the President and his men?
What is evolving with her plans during the less than a week that she took the President’s offer to lead the flagship campaign is her injecting a motherly instinct towards tokhang in line with the public health approach that would end “senseless killings.”
Robredo has all the remaining two-and-a-half years of her term to make a mark in the best possible opportunity she can have since the drugs campaign is practically the piece de resistance of Rody’s campaign for the 2016 presidency.
His vow to eradicate crime and corruption and eliminate the drugs menace swept him to power.
If Robredo shows that she can do better than Rody, the presidency is hers by 2022.
The closest ally of Rody, Sen. Bong Go, said the President and his administration will provide Robredo all the assistance possible to make public support of the anti-narcotics campaign, which is at 82 percent at the moment, hit 100 percent.
Rody and Robredo have yet to meet since the President appointed her as co-chairman of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Drugs (ICAD) last 31 October.
As ICAD chair serving until the end of her term in 2022, Robredo holds a Cabinet rank, the second time under Duterte’s watch. She once was part of the Cabinet as housing czar but resigned in December 2016 because of policy differences with Duterte.
Another close aide, spokesman Sal Panelo, assured Robredo that she will be invited and that the President said “he will invite her myself.”
The toughest test on Robredo, aside from her credibility in assuming the role as drugs czarina, is her ability to stand on her own, free from the influence of the members of the yellow mob milling around her, the foreign pressure groups such as human rights organizations and big business backing liberal democratic ideas and, of course, the drugs lords who see in her a chance to bounce back from the severe beating they are getting from the war on drugs.
One scenario that is being offered is that drug syndicates will band and agree on cooling their heels during the remaining term of Rody to give a semblance of success to the new anti-drugs czarina.
Then, in comes the meddlers of all kinds in the mold of Human Rights Watch and United Nations Special Rapporteurs who have an ax to grind against Rody and will make sure that Rody does not put a halt to the “no-death” Robredo campaign.
The overall target, however, would be to push the survey ratings of Robredo higher to approximate or exceed Rody’s and to convince the public that she is a viable alternative.
The strategy of making Robredo palatable is key to efforts of the Liberal Party (LP), which is the gatekeeper of the liberal democratic ideals that are losing traction in the world, to make a comeback.
The LP was soundly trashed in the elections last May after its Otso Diretso slate was shut out in the senatorial race.
That several power groups are pinning their hopes on Robredo is reflected on how the vicious noises against Rody were suddenly sucked into extolling and glorifying her having taken charge of the anti-narcotics campaign.
The general feeling is that, somewhere along the way, the anti-drugs czarina would exploit her position to advance her political agenda, which is her familiar persona to the public.
As for Rody, he knows despite his statements of the drug problem being without a solution, public perception is that the war had already been won.