As the COVID-19 pandemic plays out globally, the main drive of the Philippine Oppositions is not to help Filipinos deal with the crisis together. Rather, their goal is to prove that Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is not fit to lead his people through it. This is consistent with their singular objective — to seize power and re-establish the status quo that has been their comfort zone for several decades. With no credible Opposition leader charismatic enough to go up against the massively-popular incumbent, it has fallen on “vice president” Leni Robredo to be Opposition “leader” by sheer default.
The Opposition, led by the bloc within it rabidly-loyal to the Aquino-Cojuangco feudal clan (a.k.a. the Yellowtards), is essentially destructive in nature and the way their members conduct themselves clearly damages the social fabric of a people already frayed by crisis upon crisis. However, it is fair to say that a scenario in which Duterte steps down as president and, as mandated by law, Robredo steps up (assuming her claim to the vice presidency is legitimate) to take office as President of the Philippines needs to be explored. What would Robredo do differently to Duterte?
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So far, Robredo has played backseat driver over the course of several crises including this most recent one. As a backseat driver, it is easy to come across as knowledgeable and authoritative. Thus it really isn’t that baffling the way Opposition partisans have lapped up every one of her motherhood statements. Among the things she has “urged” President Duterte to do includes identifying funds to acquire testing kits and to “procure these test kits as soon as possible”. Robredo also encouraged the government to observe how the disease is spreading in Italy and Iran which, together, account for the most COVID-19 infection cases and deaths and learn what they “do wrong”. She also reportedly expressed an interest in “best practices” and said that the Philippines ought to “learn from the experiences of other countries like China, South Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan”.
This is all well and good. The Opposition has so far run with sound bytes such as those. Their main argument is to show that Robredo says stuff like that and Duterte doesn’t. But does what one person say and the other doesn’t and vice versa prove one is better than the other? It seems that the Opposition have hinged their entire obstructionist platform on Robredo’s words and Duterte’s alleged lack of counterpart statements. In this sense, the Opposition are being grossly unfair to the various government agencies staffed by professionals working together to manage the crisis and mitigate the risks of it worsening. They are suggesting that government agencies and their staff are doing a bad job — not sourcing test kits and observing “best practice”, for example — just because Duterte did not mention such initiatives in his public statements. They then go on to imply that such measures will be done better if Robredo was president.
Such a position to take is nothing short of insulting to a professional civil service. The Opposition would like Filipinos to believe that the performance and quality of work of their civil servants are directly determined by who is president and not by their professional ethic and initiative.
This gives us a hint of what a Robredo presidency would be like. It would be a selfie presidency of grandstanding and prayerful emotional blackmail. This is consistent with how Robredo behaved when she “helped” in the relief effort during the Taal Volcano eruption (one the Opposition were quick to call a “tragedy”) just a few months back. Rather than be a quiet achiever at the time, Robredo made it a point to make her involvement in the relief effort all about herself.
What could be potentially dangerous about a Robredo presidency is the fact that the small handful of Big Corporate Media organisations that monopolise “news reporting” and “fact checking” in the Philippines back her and the Yellowtard brand of emo politics. They selectively “report” the news, and “investigate” the “facts” in a manner slanted to subliminal political messages dictated by the golf buddies of their owners and top shareholders. The incestuous relationship the Philippines’ media moguls enjoy with powerful politicians was laid bare recently when Senator Grace Poe used the Senate as a prop to highlight the “plight” of media behemoth ABS-CBN before an enormous TV and social media audience. Unfortunately for Poe, the inherent conflicts-of-interest of this stunt on account of her and her family’s financial interests in ABS-CBN did not escape the scrutiny of vigilant Filipinos. A Robredo presidency will likely be no different — one upon whose coattails an erstwhile disenfranchised Yellowtard community can ride on with the benefit of billion-peso corporate media channels serving as cheerleaders.
The fact is, being president is not all about one’s self. This is something Leni Robredo needs to learn and take to heart if she is to lead Filipinos as their president. Being president is being a leader to all Filipinos and not just her party and certainly not just to her sponsors in the oligarchy. Duterte has so far exhibited unprecedented resilience — sustaining wide public approval and trust despite an army of Opposition “thought leaders”, an entire “news” media industry, and the communist-infested student bodies of the country’s chichiest universities sustaining a massive demonisation campaign against him in concert. In that light, it is easy to see what a sad pale shadow of Duterte’s government one run by Robredo would be. Filipinos need to think twice about even considering a Leni Robredo presidency specially in these interesting times. More importantly, the broader Opposition should seriously re-think the idea of being “led” by the Yellowtards — for their sake.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.