President Rodrigo Duterte has an extremely harsh opinion about the drug war. He calls it “a fiasco”. A fiasco is worse than a failure. It is a complete, shameful and humiliating failure. In Cebuano and Tagalog, it means "usa ka hingpit nga pagkapakyas" and "isang ganap na kabiguan."
And for Duterte to use the term is remarkable. He is the creator of this national bloodletting but his statement reveals a surprising amount of awareness and humility.
Like Colombia’s former president César Gaviria, who employed the same drug war in his country, and who later admitted that it was useless, Duterte has also reached enlightenment. He and Gaviria could work as a team, and give reliable advice to world leaders.
When Duterte appointed Vice President Leni Robredo to serve as co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD), he knew what she would discover. He knew the content of the report she had sent to his table; there was no need for him to read it. He was not surprised about her New Year’s message.
He was not even upset with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the Philippine National Police (PNP); they gave Robredo data on the relatively small quantities of seized illegal drugs.
He just had to criticize Robredo, called her “a colossal blunder”, to appease the Duterte Die-hard Supporters (DDS) and thus preserve his political base. The DDS want Duterte to remain combative.
What happened next was expected. The troll factory overheated. The DDS went berserk not because Robredo said Duterte is wrong, but because, using simple mathematics, she succeeded in proving that Duterte is right.
Unfortunately, many people pretend to be unconvinced. Most of them are Duterte’s own supporters, like Speaker Peter Alan Cayetano and Senator Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa.
Cayetano is so rattled he has suggested a congressional investigation of Robredo’s report, hoping he would send her reeling in the corner. But Robredo is fully prepared. A thorough, no-holds-barred interrogation is precisely what Robredo wants.
Then we can expect two possible outcomes. Either we learn something new, or get the same message that Duterte is indeed correct.
On second thought, while Duterte gave himself a grade of fiasco (F-), Robredo did not. She gave him one percent (F), but that figure did not come from her. That figure is a prehistoric animal from the PDEA and the PNP. They don’t have a name for it. All they know is, whenever they press the buttons of their Casio calculators, the same animal shows up on the screen.
Robredo is right. The drug war is a failure. But it is not a fiasco. Look here. In one percent lies all the hope we need.
I have a confession. In high school, I joined a rock band led by Joekim B. We had a drummer. But I asked Joekim to let me play drum. He gave me permission.
After playing for about two minutes during our concert in Kong Hua School, he looked horrified and ordered the other members to restrain me. Joekim and I were just two feet from each other, but he treated me like a ghost. Thus, my career as a drummer ended.
A Korean old man, Mr. Kwon, however, is a magnificent artist. Look for him in YouTube. It is extremely difficult to play drum for Frank Sinatra’s "My Way", but Mr. Kwon gave an amazing, impassioned performance.
Trust me. I know. I was a drummer once.
Elson T. Elizaga is a lightwriter and caregiver. He comes from his mother and got married on a hill. He seeks tension in language and images. When struck by lightning, he prays. Otherwise, he is a secular humanist who writes for elson.elizaga.net.