The Philippines’ poltical chatter continues to heat up with speculation around the health and ability to govern of President Rodrigo Duterte. As the tempo rises, so does scrutiny around the leadership chops of presumptive “vice president” Leni Robredo.
The question in every Filipino’s head is a no-brainer. Is Leni Robredo fit to be Philippine President?
Robredo’s lawyer Romulo Macalintal seems to think so…
“VP Robredo deserves the right to prove her qualifications and abilities to be president in her own style and approach on current problems of the country while you take a break and take that much-needed rest,” he said.
“So, idol President, why can’t you give VP Robredo a chance to prove her qualifications? As a lawyer, you know she is entitled to due process or right to be heard before she could be accused of not being qualified to perform the functions of the presidency [to] which under the constitution she is the rightful successor,” he added.
“Deserving” the “right” to prove herself? Really?
There have been many reasons pitched by one politician or the other to the Filipino voter to earn their confidence. But asserting a “right” to prove one’s self is something new. Robredo’s role as supposed “vice president” is to be prepared. Is she prepared to replace President Rodrigo Duterte in the event he is rendered unfit to continue his job?
It is important to be really clear about what we mean here by “replaced”.
Duterte continues to enjoy the confidence of the Filipino people. In the context of this fact, Robredo needs to really understand what it means to be prepared to replace a president whose leadership style will likely linger as a reference upon which Robredo’s performance will be measured.
Unless Robredo has an equally-compelling alternative vision and pathway to guide her administration, being prepared to replace Duterte could have to mean having an appetite to continue his governance approach and remaining on point with his administration’s goals. But Robredo is a leader of the Opposition, which means she will likely be undoing everything Duterte implemented, steering the country onto a different path, and pandering to an entirely different set of stakeholders. Does the Opposition have a plan in place to undertake such a radical turnaround? Do they have a plan to get Congress, whose members remain supportive of the Duterte government, on board for the ride?
This is where the importance of seeing past the disruptive and, often, destructive “dissent” of the Philippine Opposition led by the Liberal Party (a.k.a. the Yellowtards) and confronting the question What’s next? can now be appreciated. Success as defined by the Yellowtards has traditionally revolved around seizing power following a campaign to demonise a sitting incumbent. The aim of their campaign has, for so long, been to cut down and diminish their opponents to make them look less appealing to what they have on offer. In short rather than compete by coming up with something better, they tear down the enemy to make them look worse than their mediocre proposition.
It is in this context of destructive politics that Filipinos should evaluate what Robredo — as possible replacement to Duterte — brings to the table. Is she offering Filipinos something better? Or will she be offering no more than the same mediocre Yellowtard narrative and then spend the rest of her days in office making Duterte’s legacy look worse in comparison? It’s time Filipinos ask their Opposition the right questions and the hard questions.
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