(In his first column for The Manila Times, journalist, editor and commentator Jojo Robles gives the lowdown on how Vice President Leni Robredo is being jettisoned by the Liberal Party. )
MAYBE you’re one of those who wondered why Vice President Leni Robredo, quite unbidden, started making noises about rejoining the government of President Rodrigo Duterte last week. And perhaps you asked yourself why, apart from performing her usual, never-ending task of keeping herself in the national conversation, Robredo was doing so at this particular time.
Was Robredo finally making a break from the moribund Liberal Party? Had she, despite her laughable list of non-negotiable conditions before Duterte could bring her back into his official family, finally seen the light?
Of course not. A lawmaker who remains a steadfast member of the LP (yes, there are still some politicians like that) recently told me that Leni didn’t do the leaving; if anything, she has basically been told that it would make no difference to the party if she stayed or left.
“It’s like this,” the lawmaker, a friend from way back, explained to me. “The party has decided, for the moment, that VP Leni is not going to win us back Malacañang in 2022 [when the next national elections take place].”
But why wouldn’t the LP support Robredo, currently the highest elected party member in government, in 2022? Has she been dumped for good?
“Let’s just say that the party believes that we should wait for future developments,” he replied. “After all, that’s what we in the LP do, right? And someone always seems to come along whom we never expected, and that person turns out to be the savior of the party.”
The lawmaker was referring, of course, to Noynoy Aquino, whose decision to run late in 2009 upon the death of his mother Cory catapulted the LP back into power. As far as Robredo is concerned, the LP is probably still smarting from its experience with Mar Roxas, who had a lock on the party nomination for the presidency since the beginning of Noynoy’s term, but who lost miserably when Duterte “did a Noynoy” in 2016, coming out of nowhere to snatch the victory that Roxas already thought was his.
So, it certainly isn’t true that Robredo is leaving the LP. It’s truer to say that the party doesn’t believe she stands a good chance of winning back the palace for the Yellow horde.
Robredo is damaged goods, even to her own party. She is just doing the trapo thing (the same stunt she pulled when she “resigned” as Duterte’s housing czarina) by pretending that she’s leaving when she’s actually been thrown out.
Oh and yes, it would also be easy to dismiss this account of how things really went down as fake news. Except that my source is still very much around in Congress, finishing his last term after serving as a top, high-profile official of the Arroyo administration and is now contemplating a run for the mayorship in his suburban hometown.
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I was there when the Manila Standard was started by the legendary newspaperman Rodolfo “Rod” Reyes in 1987. I was hired by Alejandro “Andy” del Rosario, who would later become my valued friend and mentor, as a police reporter.
Mere months before joining the Standard, I started as a proofreader in BusinessDay, leaving only after the paper was closed by a protracted strike. In the three decades that followed, I became a fixture in the Standard, where I started writing this column in 1999 and where I served for two terms as editor-in-chief.
So, what am I doing in The Manila Times after being associated for so long with another newspaper? Simple: I am now convinced that the Times is the print and online platform that is best suited to the kind of commentary that I write.
In the Times, I will finally get to join two columnists whom I have long admired, Bobi Tiglao and Yen Makabenta. And the direction that the paper’s owners, led by Chairman Dante A. Ang, have taken of letting columnists lead certainly made it very easy for me to accept the invitation to move.
I hope the Times readers find in “Lowdown” a vital addition to this newspaper’s powerful collection of diverse and articulate voices. I look forward to the task of competing for your discriminating attention and taste, which has certainly been improved by your appreciation of Tiglao, Makabenta and the rest.
Thanks for having me. I promise to make it worth your while.
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JOJO ROBLES JOINS THE MANILA TIMES
Former Manila Standard editor-in-chief and columnist Jojo A. Robles has joined The Manila Times as a columnist, giving his signature column “Lowdown” a new home.
Starting with this issue, Lowdown will be published here four times a week, from Wednesday to Saturday.
Robles is no total stranger to the Times. He used to write feature stories for The Sunday Times Magazine, between 1993 and 1995.
His journalism career spans decades of reporting, editing and broadcasting, including as news director for DZRH, news editor at The Evening Paper, announcer at DZMM and as editor-in-chief of Azkals Futbol Magazine until 2012. From January 2015, he began serving as anchor/co-producer of Karambola sa DWIZ.
After a long career as a journalist, Robles won the Rotary Club of Manila Journalism Award as Opinion Writer of the Year 2014.