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President Robredo?

Leni Robredo on Fake News Senate Hearing

We’re not sure if Vice President Leni Robredo (photo, left) is in terminal denial, delusional, living in a parallel universe to the one the Philippines is in, or if she actually believes what she says. Whichever it is, we’re sure of one thing: she’s totally out of touch with the vast majority of her compatriots.

That said, she holds the second highest government rank in the land – indeed, should President Rodrigo Duterte be unable to complete his term for some reason, Robredo would become the head of state; the county’s chief executive; the commander in chief of its armed forces. She would become the 17th President of the Philippines.

What’s particularly troubling about that prospect as far as the majority of the electorate is concerned is that she will likely reverse a number of Duterte’s policies – particularly those pertaining to law and order. In other words the hugely popular policies which swept Duterte to power and which ensure his continued high-popularity ratings, she would junk.

She’d also most likely replace members of the Duterte Cabinet – the one she was effectively removed from last December when she was asked to “desist from attending Cabinet meetings”. It was alleged at the time that she’d been leaking confidential Cabinet information In short; her presence there had become disruptive. This bitter history, then, would make it extremely difficult for her former colleagues to work with a Robredo presidency.

But while alienating government ministers is one thing – and that problem might be solved by some ruthless housecleaning, with replacements coming from the ranks of her Liberal Party (LP) – alienating the people is quite another.

Our question for today’s Your Forum, then, is this: Is it 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? We’ve long held serious doubts about that. And her remarks on Thursday only further hardened those doubts.

She was commenting about that day’s meeting of the Senate Committee on Public Information and Mass Media – an enquiry aimed at seeking ways of combating fake news. And among those present at the hearing were a number of bloggers who’d been invited there to help shed some light on the issue.

These included the country’s two most influential bloggers, Mocha Uson, also an assistant secretary with the Presidential Communications Operations Office, and R.J. “Thinking Pinoy” Nieto, who also works as a consultant to the Department of Foreign Affairs – both of whom have been critical of Robredo’s conduct as VP in the past.

Although Robredo didn’t mention them by name, it was fairly obvious who she was referring to when she said this: “There were people there at the Senate who were sources of fake news about me. They didn’t show signs of remorse. Shameless. They were boastful. Arrogant”.

First, Robredo needs to understand that this was a Senate hearing they were attending, not a confessional – though she might be forgiven for her confusion. At the enquiry, LP senator, Paolo Bam Aquino IV and LP-supporting senator, Antonio Trillanes IV, came close to seeking acts of contrition from Uson and Nieto. There was also something very homiletic about their presentations.

The point is, the bloggers were there as resource persons; to contribute to the matter at hand; they hadn’t been summoned there to recant some sin they’re supposed to have committed; some blasphemy against a hopeful monarch-in-waiting.

Frankly though, Robredo’s righteous indignation is sickening. Talk about the kettle calling the pot black, this is a woman who has never once shown remorse for the shame she’s brought to her office and to the country as she obstinately pursues a campaign against Duterte and parts of his administration.

She could give lessons in arrogance and remorse avoidance. Where, for example, is her apology to the President of the Philippine Republic whose name, office and reputation she besmirched with her six-minute video account of the government’s anti-narcotics campaign she made to the world in March? Termite in the Cabinet.

In that staged delivery – to a United Nations event entitled “Human Rights Challenge: Responding to Extrajudicial Killings in the Drugs War – she accused Duterte of “a blatant disregard for rule of law”; for encouraging the abuse of human rights; for instilling fear instead of hope in the nation. “Our people feel both hopeless and helpless,” she told the world as she attempted to galvanise international hatred of the people’s president. So, hands up those who think Robredo should show remorse.

What right does she have of pointing her finger at anyone after that outrageous outpouring – treasonous by any normal definition? She felt “scandalized” by bloggers she described as “shameless”. These are people who had the temerity to defend their president after her vitriolic attacks on him. And when is she going to pay off her shame bill for the repeated acts of passive aggression she’s engaged in as she paints herself as the injured party? Does she really think she’s fooling anyone with those shameful exhibitions of self-indulgence? So, hands up those who think Robredo is shameless.

Her slow public political suicide, however, doesn’t elicit sympathy; it generates scorn. She’s not the victim of character assassination; she’s the perpetrator of it.

And with all that baggage of undermining the government she had the gall to say this: “It is a privilege to serve the nation. It shouldn’t be done with arrogance. For us, public service has no price. It cannot be measured … It’s like they [presumably Uson and Nieto] are saying they are serving to help out, but the way they are acting, it seems that instead of helping, they are only doing damage” – that from the woman who has sworn to work within the government as an opposition to it. So, hands up those who think Robredo is the real cause of damage.

We’re fairly sure you have strong feelings about Robredo’s suitability – or lack of – to lead the Philippine nation. And we’re very interested to hear your thoughts on this.

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