AT the November 30 rally in White Plains, there was a rumor that some groups from the organizing committee had wanted to get Vice President Leni Robredo to address the crowd. It was purportedly, thankfully! shot down by the smarter, (I presume) non-Liberal Party-allied organizers.
My thought bubble upon hearing this: unless she’s resigning, what would she do on that stage? Less than a week after, she resigned as housing chair. It came with requisite spin.
The questionable frame
This is too familiar–we lived with the Liberal Party for six years after all, where spin was interwoven into government communications. Now we can see it a mile away: the holes in this spin machine, the buttons being pushed for damage control.
Case in point: the press release about the VP’s resignation was framed against the VP post being stolen from her.
That frame is unstable at best. The only proof the VP and her camp have for saying that this is part of the Marcosian plan to steal the second highest post in the land from her is one tweet.
One hundred forty characters. That was purportedly posted at a time when few people from the VP’s office even knew about the desist order from Cabinet Secretary Jun Evasco. The VP’s camp presumes this means government is in cahoots with the Marcoses, telling them about the desist order.
Now I do not doubt that the Marcoses have been orchestrating a comeback all these years; neither do I doubt that having President Duterte as a Marcos loyalist has made it easier. But a “Bye bye VP Leni” tweet, “aptly” timed, is not what a solid conspiracy theory makes.
The reasons as afterthought
This unstable frame is what the VP’s camp has used to get people to rally behind her; it was all her Monday statement spoke about.
It was only in the open forum with the media that she talked about her work with the housing office, and it’s been repeated since: the P19 billion slashed from the housing budget for 2017 is proof that she’s “kinakawawa” by this government.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but the National Housing Authority’s slashed budget is because the allocation for Yolanda rehabilitation is now only at P1.3 billion, compared to 2016’s allocation of P25.6 billion. In effect, while the 2016 budget allocation was P30.48 billion, that was technically only P4.88 billion (after Yolanda rehab). The 2017 budget of NHA as such would be P11.34 billion (after Yolanda rehab). (Rappler.com, September 17)
In August, VP Leni herself said “she was asked by the President whether she would like to have an increase in the budget of the HUDCC. The Vice President said she refused Duterte’s offer pending a comprehensive housing plan.” (Philstar.com, August 31) Maybe the VP was waiting for the President to create the housing department she requested, given the little control the HUDCC has as coordinating council.
Which might be true, as it might be true that the slashed budget is problematic. But saying: “All our key shelter agency appointment recommendations have not been acted on” and “the Executive Order designed to make HUDCC effective was not signed” – just make the VP sound like a brat.
Note that the President is not required to act on any of these, and certainly not right away – just like we insist he was not required to have Marcos buried at LMNB.
See, those things work both ways.
VP Leni also mentioned her differences with the President as far as principles and values are concerned. Easily–and what has gotten media mileage–are her convictions against EJKs, the Marcos burial, and the treatment of women.
But there are other fundamental differences that have not gotten as much attention. The President’s decision to ban the conversion of agriculture land for non-agricultural uses for two years, so as to assess land use conversion projects, was something VP Leni stood against: she said it would affect socialized housing projects. But is it not for the benefit of the poorest of the poor that we first look into the abuses brought about by land conversion? Like oh, I don’t know, the case of Hacienda Luisita?
The President’s stand about government providing basic services outside of private sector help is also key. But VP Leni’s vision for housing is one that is dependent on the private sector … ahem … converting land for socialized housing. And who stands to gain from that exactly? No private sector entity will invest without assured profit margins–that has been our problem with privatized and commercialized basic services throughout DaangMatuwid.
Truth is, those differences cut both ways. If the President was fine with those differences, I don’t understand why the VP would be so affected as to resign.
Besides you have Vice President JojoBinay who was an outsider in the PNoy Cabinet for six years. He worked at HUDCC, presided over board meetings, worked with Aquino appointees. Some of the “accomplishments” claimed by VP Leni in her five months as HUDCC Chair actually piggyback on what VP Binay started. Yes, read about it, it’s all online.
There’s just too much blind support for VP Leni at this point, and too little analysis going on. We take what her camp throws us as truth, and anyone who double-checks is considered enemy. That’s also exactly what rabid Dutertrolls do–that Leni supporters have become that too should give them pause.
The fact is VP Leni is no more transparent than this government about what exactly happened. Why was she given that desist order? Is it, as the grapevine says, that she is suspected of having been the source of information that should’ve stayed in Malacañang? Is it that she refused to cooperate with the move to investigate the Yolanda rehab fund under the last administration? After all, while the President himself, and other members of the Cabinet have pushed for a Yolanda investigation, VP Leni has been pretty much silent about it–as she is about anything at all that has to do with irregularities and abuses during DaangMatuwid.
There are just too many silences here, and the public is being kept in the dark. That VP Leni cannot come clean makes me question her (and the LP’s) motives at this point.
Right now, this looks like spin that rides the wave of anti-Marcos sentiment.
Here’s hoping we will not be fooled.