EIGHT months before the October deadline for the filing of candidacy certificates for the two highest posts of the land, Vice President Leonor Robredo has all but given her up her ambition to be president in 2022.
While still saying – but as an afterthought – that that option is still open, Robredo in the GMA TV show “Mangahas Interviews” last March 5 said she was instead thinking or running as governor or as congressman, or even going back to just lawyering for NGOs.
Surprisingly, she even disclosed for the first time that she was also considering a post “in the judiciary.” But judges in the Philippines up to Supreme Court are appointed by the president: Is Robredo sending a message to Duterte?
Robredo even cited the excuse many politicians here and abroad give to get out of politics: the family. “I might listen to the plea of my children, who’ve told me that they want 2016 to be the last time I’d run for a public post,” she said.
That Robredo doesn’t have a political leader’s fire in the belly became obvious in the interview when she herself said the Liberal Party has been “decimated,” the term she used. She just chuckled in obvious agreement when the interviewer Malou Mangahas related to her the joke going around media that from the school bus Liberal Party members would crowd in at the start of the Duterte administration, they now would fit in a tricycle.
She even demonstrated her political naiveté by revealing that she doesn’t have the financial resources needed to run for the presidency. Why? Because businessmen are afraid of Duterte, she said. “Look at what happened to ABS-CBN.”
This chairman of the Liberal Party blamed the opposition’s decimation on itself – and on the unintelligent view that it was due to President Duterte’s propaganda machinery. “We failed to counter immediately the accusations against me and the opposition,” she said. Doesn’t she read the staunchly Yellow Philippine Daily Inquirer, Rappler, even the Philippine Star?
It was hilarious, but indicative of Robredo’s state of mind, that she borrowed, although a bit changed, a term a high Trump official had used, and which has become notorious, to deny something so clearly obvious: “alternative truth.”
“It was a huge shortcoming for us in the opposition not to have provided the people alternative truths,” she said.
What the heck does that mean? Truths are truths, and there are no “alternative truths.” Or is she saying they were so inutile to have not manufactured better propaganda?
Robredo also blamed Duterte-paid “trolls” in social media for the president’s popularity. Didn’t it cross her mind that these are ordinary people empowered by the new democratic venue called social media, and that it is her camp that has employed at huge cost such trolls? I realized that recently. After my column last Friday that proposed the abolition of the vice president’s post, I was barraged by obvious trolls. How do I know? Because these trolls had been posting so many posts inconceivable (over a hundred in a week’s time) for an ordinary netizen to have done, and in several newspapers.
Robredo said several times in the interview that she and her office have been busy in projects to help her “countrymen.” It is certainly disappointing for Mangahas, in her youth a feisty reporter and the former head of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, not to have asked Robredo what any newbie reporter would have asked: “Exactly what has your office, and your staff been doing in spending P2.6 billion in the past four years?”
Robredo should employ a professional auditor to investigate the use of her office’s funds. I suspect her staff may have been telling her fibs, that they have meetings all over the country organizing the masses, when there is no indication at all of that.
Indeed, what is astonishing is that Robredo admitted that the Liberal Party was so desperate that it has given up recruiting political leaders, and instead has been organizing “ordinary people.” C’mon, for what? Or perhaps her staff are jointly organizing the masses together with another party, similarly put in the ropes by Duterte – the Communist Party.
Mangahas even pathetically started her interview with that sickening “necropolitics” tack Cory and her son Benigno 3rd used to crawl to power. Mangahas’ very first question, obviously scripted, was why she was always wearing a particular pendant. Robredo said it contained some of the ashes of her late husband Jesse Robredo, and that her daughters also have similar ones.
C’mon, do we really need to know that? It was even an overkill of this “necropolitics” tack: behind her throughout the entire one-hour interview was a portrait of her late husband right next to her face. In the hour-long interview Robredo never even mentioned, much less praised, any other Liberal Party or Yellow leader.
Mangahas didn’t live up to the meaning of her name as she didn’t even dare to ask: “Are you and Quezon City Rep. Jorge. (“Bolet”) Banal having an affair?” While her office, in reply to my persistent queries, denied that report last year, the issue has again come to public attention after the Land Transportation Office in Naga City posted in its Facebook page a photo of him smiling profusely, glad that that office gave him the medical clearance needed for the renewal of his driver’s license.
In the neighborhood
Why did Banal, a congressman of Quezon City, where the LTO main offices are, have to renew his driver’s license in Naga 400 kms away, where Robredo lives? He was “just in the neighborhood”? I think it would have been revealing to watch Robredo deny the accusation in person, and not just through a press release.
If Mangahas thought the interview was a brilliant opening salvo for Robredo’s candidacy, it had the opposite effect. Robredo gave rambling, boring answers, found nothing to commend in the Duterte presidency (which would have portrayed her as a sensible person) — while Mangahas nodded continuously in agreement. She isn’t a leader, and Kiko Pangilinan and Rissa Hontiveros would get many more votes for the presidency, if ever. And of course, she all but announced she was giving up on the presidency.
That it was a propaganda disaster for Robredo is obvious in that in the YouTube version I watched, it had only 73 likes, with 772 dislikes. Out of 400 comments on the post, not a single one was favorable to Robredo. Some were even vicious not just against Robredo, but even Mangahas and GMA7, which one commentator implied had become the new ABS-CBN.
From an enfeebled Robredo, to an Antonio Trillanes 4th declaring that he would put Duterte in jail next year. What an opposition, which is bad for a democracy.