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Bacolod City, Philippines Saturday, November 9, 2019
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with Matè Espina

Leni the anti-drug queen

Rock & Refuge

Vice President Leni Robredo’s followers (including me!) are divided on her decision to take on the task as the head of the anti-drug war of the national government with many believing it is a “trap” to ensure she fails and can thus be removed from office.

Some even say since the protest filed by loser (pun intended) of then Senator Bongbong Marcos is going nowhere, this new task for the VP may give him an edge to take over. Of course, if and when that happens, I vow to be there on the streets with thousands more who have had enough of this charade from the administration.

But soon after the trepidation for Leni, people are starting to understand and laud her decision to accept the president’s dare if only to stop the killings and bring those who took part in it and those who perished, some justice.

That appointment came on the heels of Leni’s criticism against Duterte who ordered Bacolod deputy chief, Lt. Col. Jovie Espenido to start a killing spree here in our city against drug personalities.

As she accepted the offer, Leni announced that she has no plans to have anybody killed as this is outside the bounds of law and that many admire her more, especially those who have been grappling with the issue of littered bodies as an offshoot of the drug war yet the problem has remained prevalent.

It is a tough job and many of the president’s supporters are already wishing Leni to fail, but even if her appointment will just result to bringing those responsible to court for all those killings, that is more than enough for me.

For one, at least Leni is not making any promises to stop the drug war in just six months, to one year, to eventually admitting it cannot be stopped like what the president has countless of times it has been announced.

Many have said that the drug war then was just a strategy to get rid of the competition especially since the big names have yet to be hauled to court and those who were appointed who had allowed the entry of billions of drugs were just removed from office, transferred, removed again and asked to remain silent.

With Leni, while it seems impossible, to me, at least, we now have room to hope that perhaps these people will finally be caught and brought to trial.

What Leni wants, though, is that this new assignment must not be made into a competition between her and the president but rather as the fight of the entire nation as she sought the help and support of all agencies including the citizenry.

Indeed, this fight must not lie on the shoulders of just one person as we all have a stake in this if we want to continue living in a drug-free society.

In other news, the killing of broadcaster Dindo Generoso in Dumaguete City has sent chills to the media community. This is the second murder or a media personality by unidentified gunmen following Edmund Sestoso’s death in May last year.

I’ve met Dindo a couple of times and Edmund was a very good friend as we worked for the same paper in the past.

Dumaguete which carries a tag line of the home of genteel people might need to rethink their slogan especially with the spate of killings that have happened there and around Negros Oriental province as well.

Many expats have made Dumaguete and neighboring towns and cities their home because of that perception – a laidback urban city where people can feel safe even if they stroll through the boulevard on their own at night.

With this recent killing and many more before that, committed in broad daylight, the residents and those who are eyeing Dumaguete as their retirement home might have to rethink their decisions.

Joel Egco of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security noted Generoso’s status as a blocktimer vis-à-vis the number of blocktimers that have been killed and mostly allied with a particular politician.

It is the same here in our city where most blocktimers are identified with politicians who pay for the airing of their programs and you would know who is allied with whom.

Egco has called on media groups and broadcast companies to be more careful and discerning about allowing blocktimes because of the inherent danger it involves, especially if they, too, are dragged into the political war.

But I guess until broadcast stations will unite against allowing this practice, we will continue to see blocktimes flourish especially when election season returns.

My sincere condolences to Dindo’s family and may your murderers and those of Edmund’s and many other colleagues who were killed be brought to justice.*

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