For the longest time, Vice President Leni Robredo had been waiting for the shoe to drop. She had been threatened with certain removal by impeachment, even though she had not committed any impeachable crime; it is President Rodrigo Duterte who has committed all the impeachable crimes that merit immediate removal from office. But having taken full control of  the impeachment process, DU30 was determined to use it to get rid of an unwanted Vice President.

If the most trustworthy sources are to be believed, the plan was to remove Robredo by December so that a new Vice President could be named before the year was out. After that, DU30 could deliver a joyous “revolutionary government” as his  Christmas gift to all Filipinos. Or, Congress could railroad DU30’s proposed “charter change” to get rid of the existing constitutional structure without necessarily adopting a new one, and then put him in absolute control of the open-ended transition period.

Even among those who have grown tired and weary of DU30’s manufactured “popularity,” the anti-Robredo propaganda had succeeded in casting doubt on her fitness to succeed DU30 in office, should he die, become permanently incapacitated, resign or be removed in a military coup. Some military officers, both retired and in active service, would not mind withdrawing their support for DU30, provided someone other than Robredo took his place; as though this matter remained unsettled in the Constitution and must be put to a popular vote.

Now the shoe finally dropped, but it’s a different shoe altogether and with a completely unexpected result. Instead of being impeached and removed, Robredo has been raised to the Cabinet, as co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD). This does not make her the anti-drug czar, as previously erroneously announced, and  which some harebrained commentators continue to attack.  PDEA director Aaron Aquino remains chairman of ICAD, and Robredo has been added as co-chair, but Aquino’s powers have not been diluted.

To avoid unnecessary confusion and conflict, the working relationship between Aquino and Robredo needs to be defined,  remembering that two heads are not always better than one, especially when they are in conflict,  and that one bad boss is  better than two good ones, as any immediate staff will attest. The marching orders of the chair and  co-chair will have to come from the President.

There are two ways of looking at Robredo’s appointment. Given her known position as opposition leader, we can look at it first in terms of DU30’s drug war, then in terms of DU30’s overall concept of government.  From the opposition’s point of view, both the drug war and DU30’s government have failed. Therefore Robredo is in a legitimate position to say she is coming in to help. After three years of bloody killings, the police have admitted killing over 6,000 drug suspects, but various other sources put the casualty list at some 27,000. These figures cannot be both right.

It took  the execution of one drug manufacturer (Lim Seng) for Marcos to end the notorious drug trade during martial law.  Today, no big drug lord has been arrested or killed.  Tons upon tons of illegal Chinese drugs have eluded  the authorities. Corrupt officials — from Customs commissioner to Bureau of Prisons director to chief of the Philippine National Police — have been named in the press but have escaped  prosecution and punishment.

The uncontradicted allegation is that they are protected by personalities close to the powers that be, from Davao to Malacañang. The more serious allegation is that there is an ongoing “opium war” between China and the Philippines  in which China floods the market with drugs and corrupt Philippine officials take care of the rest.

Now DU30 has decided to pass the buck to Leni. Let’s see if you can do a better job of it, says DU30. She has responded by saying she will pursue the drug war without any killings, and by working with other governments and international agencies whom DU30 had called names for taking an interest in his drug killings. Will DU30 and the PDEA chief now declare support for her?

As I said earlier, Robredo’s appointment as ICAD’s co-chair does not put her fully in charge of the anti-illegal drug war.  But it allows her to make a significant contribution. DU30 and Aaron Aquino should try to see what new ideas she brings with her,  but “challenging” her to join one of the PNP’s normal anti-drug operations can be a very poor way of welcoming her into the anti-drug war.  They cannot expect her to simply ratify what the police have been doing until now.

A global review of the situation should tell us in what countries the anti-drug war has succeeded by killing pushers and users.  The evidence shows that in no country has this ever happened; the only countries where the drug war has succeeded are those which chose to  decriminalize substance abuse and regulate its legal use for medical purposes under strict state control. This is the evidence coming from Portugal, Ecuador, Uruguay, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Croatia, Argentina, Netherlands, Australia and Mexico, and creating the model increasingly imitated by others.

We have not heard this from Robredo, but I believe if anything like it comes from her we should be prepared to listen and examine the proposal, instead of shutting it down.

Beyond the drug war, what is the broader implication of Robredo’s designation to DU30’s overall governance? This, I think, is the larger question.

Unless I am completely mistaken, this is sufficient proof that the proposed mindless impeachment proceedings against Robredo are now off; that  the electoral protest filed before the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) against her by former Sen. Ferdinand (Bongbong) Marcos is  now  moot and academic; and that the backstage maneuverings for a “revolutionary government,” which would cancel her and everybody else, have just been “rethought.”

There is not enough time nor space for these now.  But in the next few days, we could examine these one by one.