June 21, 2024

In chess, there is a parlance called “the queen’s gambit.” It is a strategic opening move where the pawn in front of the queen is moved two blocks away as a sacrifice. The aim is to bait the opponent to stay the pawn so that the queen will have an easier access to take off from its trench. If the queen is already free to roam the board, it creates an advantage since it is the most powerful piece in the game. Grandmasters have implored this move through the years with success. It has created champions out of it. You see, in the game of chess, the opening move is as important as the closing.
Chess originated from the medieval period that finds its roots in the struggle for fiefdom. This is why the pieces are so intertwined with a kingdom that there is a king, a queen, bishops, horses, towers, and soldiers who are called pawns. Making full use of all these assets demands planning and strategy. It requires political acumen. No wonder, despite the evolution of politics to what it is today, chess remains to be an analytic clone to what goes on in every government.
The Philippines is not an exemption. The administration and the opposition have been playing chess over the past decades that the first one to blink will surely be checkmated. The move and the counter-moves are so precise that it is like grandmasters pitting their brains on how to outsmart each other with the highest stake being the leadership of the nation.
When he was elected president, Rodrigo Duterte made the opening move by announcing that his administration will eradicate the problem of illegal drugs within six months. The promise did not materialize because three years hence, the drug menace prevails. This is where the opposition came into play. The opening is obviously the “queen’s gambit.” Why the queen’s gambit? Because they are being led by a woman in the person of Vice President Leni Robredo.
The Vice President has criticized the drug war of the administration, saying that it is anti-poor. Most of those who have died or were arrested are poor people who do not know their rights. She paints a gruesome image where extrajudicial killing is as rampant as the traffic violations in Manila. She goes on to say that the method being employed by Duterte is rapt with human rights abuses and thus, needs “tweaking.”
At first glance, the observation of Robredo appears logical. Human rights advocates are sounding the alarm to the extent that they are filing a case against Duterte in the Criminal Court of Justice. International observers, too, are complaining there is too much killing in the country that it must stop or else certain economic gains in the form of foreign aids will be cut. In the light of this pressure, the President is supposed to relent. If it were a chess match, his move is to take the bait and compromise his position by taking a more defensive stance. On second thought, the Vice President must be politicking.
Good thing Duterete isn’t biting. He is not taking the queen’s gambit. Why should he? His anti-drug program is right on track as proven by the survey conducted by Pulse Asia showing that 81 percent of Filipinos have expressed their satisfaction over it. Consequently, the Philippine National Police came up with a data showing the index crimes such as robberies, theft, snatching, homicide, and the like have dramatically declined. People feel safer and are more confident about their well-being. There are lesser barangays that are contaminated by drugs with residents devoting themselves into useful endeavors rather than sniffing shabu. They know that Duterte means business and when he says that the days of the pushers and the users are numbered, he means it.
Hence, what is there to “tweak?” This word that was used by the Vice President is so general that even those who want to side with her are at a loss. What precisely does she mean and how will the “tweaking” be implemented? The problem with Robredo’s suggestion is that even she does not know what she is talking about. It is obvious.
No sooner than she made the impression that the anti-drug policy of the President needs
“tweaking” that the position of the anti-drug czar was offered to her – not only once but several times. Good move. If she feels that the government is failing and that she has the solution, it is her patriotic and sworn duty to remedy the problem and impose her own will by showing the Filipinos that her “tweaking” works. But no. She refused saying that the failure of the administration should not be passed on to her. She is like Pontious Pilate who found Jesus guilty yet washed his hands clean of his impending death.
The queen’s gambit failed. Robredo’s sacrifice back-fired on her and her Liberal Party. Already, both are reeling from the people’s backlash because of their incessant talking without any firm policy to back it up. History has judged them. Have they not suffered a zero in the last election?
Well, as for their queen, she is in the worst position in her young political career. If she accepts her appointment as the anti-drug czar, she probably cannot approximate what Duterte has achieved so far. If she refuses, she will be looked upon as a blabber with no direction who is better off by shutting her mouth than being a vocal critic of the administration.