A question for Aguirre – Manila Standard


posted July 15, 2017 at 12:01 am

The director of the Bureau of Corrections did an unusual thing by quitting his post, citing his failure to quell the resurgence of the illegal drug trade at the new Bilibid Prison.

This inability, former BuCor director Benjamin delos Santos said, has rendered him irrelevant.

It’s unusual because not a lot of government officials face up to their inadequacies and step down as they acknowledge they cannot perform their mandate. Filipinos are more familiar with the type who latch on to their posts, offering one excuse after another and blaming others for their failure.

Some feel obliged to make a show of resigning, but in fact await their principal’s expression of continued trust and confidence in them.

This being said, Delos Santos—and Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II—still need to tell us how and why the drug trade returned amid all the chest-beating against it by the current administration.

Did they not bring in inmates from the maximum security compound to Congress to shed light on what is happening? Did they not haul Aguirre’s predecessor to jail for alleged participation in the trade for her own benefits? Why, for all the aggressive anti-drug stance led by no less than the President, is this evil at the national penitentiary so difficult to stop?

Unfortunately, in his letter, Delos Santos said he would refrain from making further . He would take a vow of silence—which piques our interest all the more.

Delos Santos had barely warmed his seat; the fraternity brother of President Duterte was only appointed last December. A little over six months into the job, however, he decides he can no longer bear it and quits, irrevocably.

And now he won’t talk.

There must be a compelling reason for the drug trade to persist in a place like the NBP. Failure to quell it is ignominious for an administration as exacting and as tough-talking as this one. Mr. Duterte said last year that three quarters of illegal drugs in the country are orchestrated by syndicates in the confines of the NBP. And now, even as members of the elite Special Action Force have been tapped to guard the inmates, there are reports of a resurgence—that is, if the problem ever really went away in the first place.

Secretary Aguirre has some serious explaining to do. Otherwise, his own relevance can be likened to the fake news stories he claims to so despise. Then again, he has always had a bit of trouble telling the difference between fact and fiction.

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