Like the boy who cried wolf, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV says so many things against President Rodrigo Duterte that we have a tendency to discount what he says as just another one of his brickbats. Thus, when he actually offered a sensible suggestion last week that the President take a drug test, nobody really took him seriously.
The senator’s challenge came after Mr. Duterte said he used marijuana to keep up with his “killing schedule” during a regional summit in Singapore—then later said he was only joking.
“Duterte is desperately trying to contain the damage of his admission about marijuana use by saying it was just a joke. Too late. It has been revealed that he is is drug user,” Trillanes said. “Now, if he really wants to clear himself, I am again calling on him to take a drug test.”
The Palace has dismissed the challenge, saying that it was the senator who should take the test.
“There is no need [for a drug test],” said the President’s spokesman Salvador Panelo. “Look at this person, this President. He is strong. He would always say if something is wrong with him.”
As often is the case, however, the President’s spokesman misses the point.
The appearance of strength does not preclude drug use, nor have we had any proof of this President’s candor about his health. On several occasions, he has admitted to taking fentanyl, a powerfully addictive opioid, for pain, yet we have no indication of how much of the drug he takes. Besides, Mr. Duterte is so often “joking” that we no longer know what to believe.
As the leader of a massive anti-drug campaign that has taken the lives of thousands of suspected drug pushers and addicts, this President, of all people, should not be shy about taking a simple drug test.
After all, he has railed often enough about narco-politicians and the corrupting influence of the drug trade on politics and the government bureaucracy. What would be so wrong about proving without a doubt that the President is drug-free?
Mr. Duterte’s refusal to take a drug test is just as puzzling as the Palace stand to reject a proposal for random drug testing of candidates for public office. It would seem that if we were serious about ridding the government of the corrupting influence of illegal drugs, testing would be the place to begin.
Some time ago, the President’s spokesman spoke out in favor of random drug testing for elementary school students, saying he saw nothing objectionable. Any parent, he reasoned, would be happy to learn if his or her child were addicted to drugs. By the same token, wouldn’t we all be happier knowing that our leaders—including the President—were truly drug-free?
The Palace should explain why is it all right to test grade school-children, but not those who profess to be our drug-free leaders.