LENI Robredo wanted to swiftly descend on Marawi thinking that the Maute was just like a typhoon. She wanted to make up for her absence last December, when parts of Bicol, her home region, were ravaged by Typhoon Nina. She left to spend her holidays in the US fully aware that Naga was on the direct path of the storm. And she used as an excuse for her failure to come home sooner the fact that all the flights were booked.
It was such a traumatic event for Leni. It was, in her political timeline, a major milestone in her unraveling.
It definitely painted her as detached and uncaring. People were looking for her, but it was Georgina whom they found.
This time in Marawi, she was ready. She wanted to go as soon as possible.
Raring to be redeemed from her Bicol debacle, she immediately made a public call for relief donations, and wanted to enter Marawi City carrying boxes of instant noodles, canned goods and blankets, ready for distribution to the terrified residents there. But she was advised by the military that that would not be prudent, at least not yet.
After all, a storm leaves in its path death and destruction, but doesn’t linger to blow away those who come to help in the aftermath.
But a terrorist attack is a continuing threat, where the specter of death lurks as embedded even in those who survived the first assault.
In a post-storm relief operation, the responder Leni would be insulated from the death and destruction, and can enjoy posing for the cameras while she distributes relief goods. But in a terrorist attack from a group that is known to have been embedded in the affected communities, the responder Leni can easily turn into a hostage Leni.
It is not entirely surprising for Leni Robredo’s brand of politics to have a flawed appreciation of the differences between Bicol and Marawi, and between a storm and a terrorist attack. Cluelessness seems to have built a nest in her worldview, that Leni Robredo likened the impacts of Typhoon Nina with the harrowing continuing threat of the Maute group.
Leni partisans were quick to seize the opportunity to retaliate at the anti-Leni crowd who bashed her absence during Typhoon Nina. They started the hashtag #WhereIsThePresident, hoping to get even, except that they forgot that the President went on an official trip to Russia and not a Christmas vacation in New York.
Furthermore, they forgot to take note of the fact that while Typhoon Nina was predicted to make landfall in Camarines Sur on a certain date, the Maute group did not set a date to attack Marawi City.
Supporters of Leni were quick to twit the President’s physical absence at the height of the attacks, which led them to quickly forget that they were the same people who said that her physical presence was not even needed in Bicol for her to command a relief operation.
This failure to discern logic and reason eventually cost Leni and her partisans another egg in their faces when the President decided to cut short his official trip to Russia, in contrast to the image of Leni’s continued gallivanting in America.
It is a monumental failure of intelligence.
The inability to appreciate distinct differences goes beyond Leni Robredo, and has manifested itself in how the critics of President Duterte have totally mishandled his declaration of martial law in Mindanao as a reaction to the terrorist attack on Marawi.
Driven by sheer bias against the President, and heavily influenced by the inability to get over the images and representation of the Marcosian brand of martial law, critics were quick to pounce on the declaration as an evil foreboding. Images of the dark years of Marcos spun like crazy in social media. Dire warnings were issued, all fearful of human rights abuses.
And in doing so, these people conveniently forgot that it was their brand of politics which wrote into the 1987 Constitution a kind of martial law that is no longer the fearsome weapon of a dictator, but simply as a political instrument to protect the state. Martial law in the 1987 Constitution is so defanged that it cannot suspend the Constitution nor abolish Congress. It can be shortened, if not negated by a congressional act, and it is subject to review by the Supreme Court.
Instead of focusing on how the Republic can face the threat of terrorism, the yellows seem to be more preoccupied with a flawed comparison between a Marcosian instrument to install a dictatorship, with a kind of martial law whose potential for abuse has been constitutionally clipped by their predecessors.
Duterte critics seem to possess fertile imaginations, entertaining thoughts of a grand conspiracy where Duterte is now accused of orchestrating the Marawi incident to give him the opportunity to declare martial law. It is a plot that only the politically brain-dead can entertain.
But when one looks at Leni’s likening Marawi to a typhoon-devastated area, or those who encourage the government to negotiate peace talks with the terrorist Maute group, or Jim Paredes who quipped that PNoy did not have to declare martial law during the Zamboanga siege, then one should no longer be surprised.