The Volatilian™ View

Don’t let the genie out

Robredo Genie in a Bottle

Yesterday in Your Forum we asked this question: “Is it possible for [Vice President Leni] Robredo (photo) to win the hearts and minds of the Filipino people – to gain their confidence in her as the leader of their nation?” And you let us know what you thought. So much so that we felt we should respond to our readers and followers.

The comments and insights posted on this subject are invaluable – certainly too valuable to be ignored. Today, we’d scheduled an infographic in our series on entrepreneurship in the Philippines; however, important though we believe that is in terms of the country’s prospects for economic growth, this issue takes precedence. We’ll run that infographic tomorrow.

The Your Forum responses were overwhelming in a couple of ways. One: without exception, there were no expressions of support for a Robredo presidency. Two: the analysis of our readers of what such a presidency would usher in – chaos and despair – ran throughout the posts.

This has always been our contention too – we’ve alluded to it in the past – but we’re grateful to have that confirmed by people from right across the archipelago who obviously love their country and want the best for it.

And they’ve determined that another Liberal Party leader in the form of a vice president who achieved that position under very questionable circumstances is not the best thing for the country but actually the worse fate the country could suffer. We believe, as many of our followers do, that Robredo entering the presidential palace of Malacañang, would be like lighting the fuse to a powder keg. She’d be a lightning rod for violent division.

There are more than enough signs to indicate that social chaos with all the potential of a full-blown civil war – a situation that would be relished by Islamist extremist groups across the country’s south and the revolution-junkies of the communist New People’s Army – would erupt almost instantaneously. We can think of nothing more favourable to the causes of insurgency than Robredo assuming the presidency by default.

Make no mistake, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is the enemy of these factions; national division is their friend. And they’ll exploit any split in the country to the nth degree. Furthermore, they won’t be alone. The country’s criminal classes – subdued by Philippine law enforcement over the past 15 months – will start to reassert themselves as police resources are pulled back and redirected to deal with civil unrest.

For the drug cartels this will be as good as being issued a government licence to trade in crystal meth. For one thing they know that a Robredo presidency will emasculate the War on Drugs – it’ll be one of the first things she does; for another, the police and the army will be stretched to deal with the social chaos – they’ll be too busy to be going after the drug gangs, dismantling illegal drug labs and making drug seizures.

Installing a President Robredo, we believe, would be the biggest miscalculation of any that has gone before in all five republics of the Philippines. And that includes the disastrous, short-lived and wholly unworkable models of the First and Second Philippine Republics.

The Philippines may be young in terms of its democracy but its people are hungry for that democracy – indeed, it’s taken for Duterte to come along to establish the country’s determination to full sovereignty. Before that it behaved and was regarded largely as a US protectorate – something like a Commonwealth of the Philippines, an unincorporated US territory that would catch a cold if Washington sneezed.

And there are many in the US who long for a return of that arrangement – largely, the Liberal Party’s closest species over there, the US Democratic Party. And so, the prospect of a Robredo presidency would have them in raptures. US Democrats would support that outcome every way they could – in fact, many already have been doing; if by nothing else than by their constant attacks on Duterte. And the full force of the US Liberal mainstream media will also back it to the hilt.

Then, when – as we and many believe – this project goes to hell in a hand cart and the death toll from it has the potential to make the War on Drugs look like a minor road crash, once more the people of the Philippines will pay the price of political greed.

And, if the Philippines starts going up in flames, pro-Liberal forces in the US will still be blaming Duterte. Their lives won’t be affected; they’ll still be sipping skinny lattes in Brooks Bros shirts – tieless of course; trivially, that’s supposed to denote they’re of the people. And they’ll still be posturing as the champions of the world’s downtrodden underclasses.

Their shallow, ill-informed assessments of what’s wrong with the world will not abate. And they’ll certainly not take responsibility for any part of what went wrong in the Philippines should it happen. In short, US Democrats and their fawning scribes in the media won’t be inconvenienced in any way.

That’s the real hard analysis of the risk. We won’t dress it up. It would be irresponsible not to highlight these dangers. Had this happened, say 50 years ago, they could have got away with it. But not today; not in the age of Twitter and Facebook when battalions of citizens can take to the streets in hours.

Once Robredo walks through the front door of Malacañang as the country’s president, she’ll have kicked open a Pandora’s box with consequences way beyond her control. Let’s face it, so far she’s not proved herself to be very good at very much; but in a scenario like this she would be hopelessly out of her depth. By that stage, emotional pleas from her and other members of the Liberal elite will fall on deaf ears. Actually, they’ll only inflame things further.

The Philippine Roman Catholic Church, which seems incapable of keeping its sticky fingers out of politics and matters of state – even though it’s been asked to by the Holy See of Rome – will also pay a price for its active collaboration with that Liberal elite and for its role as a loud barking dog for the anti-Duterte movement.

Right now, the bishops of the Church are seen as part of the problem; certainly no part of any solution. They’ve been pulling at the cork of the bottle with the genie in it for most of Duterte’s term to date. Only when they finally get it out will they realise what they’ve unleashed. And then, like Robredo, they’ll be powerless to contain its destructive energy.

This madness needs to stop before it’s too late. Self-serving politicians in Congress need to look at the bigger picture here – the one outside their immediate focus of grabbing power. And those men of the cloth who believe they’re in receipt of some Divine Right to engineer the direction of the country need to rewrite their homilies – cull them of their thinly veiled political ambitions.

This is a country that has tremendous potential – but unfortunately it’s also one that has a history of allowing that potential to be taken from it by a political and ecclesiastical class that puts their interests above all else. That common interest is why these two have always worked so well together.

To state what really should be obvious, the job of the priests is to save souls; not political dynasties. The job of the politicians is to seek the best for the country and its people; not what’s best for their personal bank balances.

To us it’s clear; the people – the electorate; the only legitimate constituency for deciding who runs the country – will not stand for a Robredo presidency. It matters not that the Constitution states that the VP should assume the office of the president should the president be incapacitated in some way. They won’t accept her.

Had Robredo shown herself to be supportive of Duterte, they might have done. But not after all her efforts to undermine him; not after embarrassing the country the way she has. So, you’ve given us your answer, which is: it is not possible for Robredo to win the hearts and minds of the Filipino people – to gain their confidence in her as the leader of their nation.

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