I don’t usually write about Leni Robredo. I have as much disdain for her as Mar Roxas because they are too plastic for my political taste. Robredo is the same as Isko Moreno Domagoso as they are packaged candidates for the Presidency. Their track record is hype and their experience forged on social media — Facebook for Domagoso and Twitter for Robredo. Robredo’s track record in Congress was mediocre at best. What can you expect when you have Bolet Banal as your mentor? Her achievements as Vice-President are PR snow jobs which haven’t been replicated even at a local government unit (LGU) level because they are not scalable. They are all mere palliatives that are meant for temporary relief not for maximum impact but more for the furtherance of her image as the “Busy Presidente”.
I believe Robredo will announce her candidacy for President today because she will again allow herself to be used as a political pawn just like she did in 2016. She has vowed to run if Marcos does so she will make her date with “destiny” again today on this basis. Robredo’s problem is five years after her “victory” in 2016, her voter base is still nowhere to be found. If it existed, she would have at least 14 million in command votes to build on and her political endorsement could have at least produced a Senator in the 2019 midterm election. That turned out to be a debacle for her eight candidates. Not even Chinese numerology could help even one land in the Senate, including that Ninoy Aquino cosplayer, Bam Aquino.
Robredo’s candidacy means the Yellowidiots’ purist minority will get who they want to vote for. Without SmartMagic this time around, she might even reach the same vote count she did in 2016. There will be no come from behind victory this time around. She also has two major hindrances, campaign financing and a running mate. The usual donors will give the token sum but none will bankroll her campaign because she’s not a sure win and more likely to be loser. Her predicament is largely of her making because she didn’t step up to the leadership plate after 2016. Mar Roxas lost and that closed the checkbook of Judy Araneta Roxas. Former President Noynoy “PNoy” Aquino was too shell-shocked by Duterte’s win that he faded into obscurity and into failing health resulting in his early demise. The Cory branch of the Cojuangco clan aren’t exactly astute businessmen like their estranged cousin Danding. It didn’t help that Kiko Pangilinan as the new party president also did nothing to map out a strategy with Robredo to keep the Liberals relevant.
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The only hail mary pass Robredo has is Kris Aquino becoming her running mate. The natural political heiress of Ninoy can appeal to the masa up to an extent and also raise funds from her showbiz friends. But this is both in a limited capacity. It still wouldn’t be enough to put them over the top. Robredo isn’t likely to eat into the votes of Bongbong Marcos or Ping Lacson nor can she present herself as the better alternative to the two. She will compete with Domagoso and Manny “Pac-Man” Pacquiao for the undecideds but when the debates come into the equation, the public will be ultimately left with a choice between Lacson or Marcos.
The Yellowidiots are of the belief that they can win because of the youth and millennial demographic. That was the same justification they had for their loss in 2019. They would’ve gotten the youth vote “if only they were registered” we are told. This won’t be available to them this time around because the long lines for voter registration and the clamor for its extension indicate the turnout will be high because the public is very interested in exercising their right to decide their future. The disruption and resulting uncertainty wrought by the pandemic has compelled them to participate in deciding their future at this crucial juncture in their lives. Voters will be looking at platforms not personalities.
The weakness of the Opposition lies in their focus on old issues with particular priority given to that of Marcos and the incumbent President’s “fascist”, “authoritarian”, and “tyrannical dictatorship” which only exists as a figment of their stunted collective imagination. Whether this narrative appeals to their target demographic remains to be seen but the outlook isn’t bright when ranged up against what will be the detailed platforms of more seasoned candidates such as Lacson and Marcos. It was Duterte who broke the mold of transactional politics in 2016 up to a certain extent. In his PhilSTAR piece “Even”, Alex Magno points out that it’s high time that the political structure be reformed to prevent plurality candidates which fosters divisiveness led by the politicians who lost in the last election. He cites how ours is a “thoroughly idiotic way to have an electoral democracy” where “[every] elected ‘minority’ president can only govern by way of makeshift coalitions shaped by short-term interests. Therefore, every elected president needs to engage in transactional politics. Those coalitions unravel at the end of each electoral cycle.” Thus, Magno observes…
From her own utterance, however, it seems Leni’s greatest concern is that her running might inadvertently divide the non-Duterte vote even more, resulting in the defeat of all of them. From the survey numbers, she is correct on this point. If she follows her gut feel, she would promptly fly back to Camarines Sur.
But her gut feel may not matter. A crowd of self-anointed powerbrokers has gathered around her, pressuring her to run – even if this may be against statistical logic. A desperate group of politicians hang perilously from her hemlines, fearful of being orphaned if she withdraws from the game.
A parliamentary system is more suitable and allows for the no-confidence vote which facilitates the transition of leadership when required without disrupting government and continuity. It is also more conducive to political stability which is high on the criteria of foreign investors. Robredo announcing her candidacy for President today won’t be a surprise. What will be if she decides to not to run is, instead, seek the governorship of Camarines Sur. After all, Robredo isn’t sincere when she talks of the laylayan or the Filipinos who are the most marginalized in society. They are mere props to her image. Leni is only concerned about Leni Robredo’s Political Career. Whatever decision she makes today her fate is already certain. Either way she is consigned to political oblivion because that is the fate reserved for political pretenders.
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