In data we trust: Robredo’s war for facts

/ 05:02 AM January 19, 2020

We have seen so many corpses since President Duterte’s war on drugs began in 2016 that we’ve practically lost count. But, while the administration has no problem blazing guns in the dark, Vice President Leni Robredo has stepped in to knock some sense into the campaign. What’s supposed to be instinctive among our top government workers had to be spelled out: Where are the numbers?

The compelling report released by the Office of the Vice President doesn’t try to enthrall us with convoluted graphs and matrices. Instead, it highlights cold hard facts when they are available, and if not, they are presented as gaps to be addressed.


The report also highlighted what already seemed obvious — the government did too much guesswork and not enough factual analysis. The lethal mix of guesstimates and incompetence has taken a heavy toll on human lives, thousands of them, mostly among the poor. Still, those who run the war refuse to recognize the defects in their approach.

Not even 1 percent of the total “shabu” consumption was curtailed by the government in three years. Agencies use vastly different estimates on the number of illegal drug users, which means there’s no reliable measure of success. The messy data on rehabilitation efforts also do not inspire trust that the government is taking nonviolent and reintegrative approaches seriously. These are just some of the key findings of the report.


Unsurprisingly, Malacañang vehemently denied these conclusions and the lapdogs have been out barking. Without data, however, this as-usual politicking only reveals lame excuses and a glaring lack of substance, all meant to hide the fact that the Duterte administration has failed to deliver on one of its key promises.

Although short-lived, the appointment of Robredo as cochair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs meant that the administration had believed in her ability to contribute. It’s not fair to fault someone for making good of an opportunity to help, especially if that chance meant saving lives. It’s also not fair to the Filipino public when a government run by our taxes ignores facts just to massage the fragile egos of those in power. Enough blood has been spilled. The administration should consider the report’s recommendations, with human rights and the public’s interest in mind.

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Kevin Mandrilla is a communications professional in the tech industry who writes the occasional political pieces.

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TAGS: Commentary, drug war, Kevin Mandrilla, leni robredo
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