This is what makes politics such an interesting and compelling field to observe and study. One day political power can look invulnerable and impregnable. On another day, power can quickly evaporate and ooze away.
The similarity between an electric power outage and a political power breakdown is so compelling, I thought it deserves a column today.
Let’s start with a quick lesson on the definition of a power outage (courtesy of Wikipedia):
A power outage (also called a power cut, a power blackout, power failure or a blackout) is a short- or long-term loss of electric power in an area.
There are many causes of power failures in an electricity network. Examples of these causes include faults at power stations, damage to electric transmission lines, substations or other parts of the distribution system, a short circuit, or the overloading of electricity mains.
Power outages are categorized into three different phenomena, relating to the duration and effect of the outage:
A permanent fault is a massive loss of power typically caused by a fault on a power line. Power is automatically restored once the fault is cleared.
A brownout is a drop in voltage in an electrical power supply. The term brownout comes from the dimming experienced by lighting when the voltage sags. Brownouts can cause poor performance of equipment or even incorrect operation.
A blackout is the total loss of power in an area and is the most severe form of power outage that can occur. Blackouts which result from or result in power stations tripping are particularly difficult to recover from quickly.
What happened to the Liberals and Aquino loyalists last May 9, and since President Duterete’s accession to office, is the equivalent of a political power outage.
A party in disarray
Since President Duterte’s inauguration, power has evaporated quickly for the Liberals and the Yellow loyalists. From a position of domination, wherein Aquino could impound budgeted funds and concoct a fund for himself and his projects, wherein he could detain and charge his predecessor (Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo), wherein he could impeach a sitting Justice of the Supreme Court, the Liberals and Aquino loyalists have lost all the apparatus and prerogatives of power.
Now, the party is in disarray, and prospective indictments await its erstwhile leaders (notably former president Benigno Aquino III). Yellow loyalists still holding office (like the Ombudsman) could lose their hold on their posts much sooner than they realize.
The party and the cult need to undertake a massive effort of rebuilding its ranks, infusing new leadership, and stopping their decline.
They need to regain credibility as a political force, because unless they are believed, they will not be heard in the age of Duterte.
The fair lady of the Opposition
The question that I pose in my title – is Leni the cure? – is intriguing and it probably is an impossible role for her to fill.
The Liberals-Yellows have become a political grouping that specializes in necro-politics – making political capital out of the death of personages. They have also developed an ability to transform inexperienced widows into politicians.
With the help of the Americans, they turned Cory Aquino into a passable leader in 1986. They repeated that feat with the election of her son, Noynoy Aquino, in 2010.
In the May 9 election, they used the same Cory playbook in fielding Leni Robredo for vice-president to stop Bongbong Marcos, who was running away from the field. This play may succeed if Leni’s election is sustained by the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (the Supreme Court) in the Marcos election protest.
The big question now is whether Leni Robredo can be transformed a la Eliza Doolittle into “the fair lady of the Opposition.”
Much as I wish that she could evolve into the role, I will say here that I am skeptical.
This is a political stratagem born out of desperation. The prospective fair lady does not know what she has bargained for.
Having worked with two presidents, and the CEOs of major corporations, and having a done my share of leadership studies, I must say that Leni does not have the tools for political leadership.
She looks to me like more of a follower than a leader. She has not utilized her opportunities well.
After a brief period of uncertainty, she was fortunate to be invited to join President Duterte’s Cabinet as housing secretary. Sadly, she did not have the executive ability and skills to convert this assignment into a significant mission. She looked like just another soul lost in the bureaucracy.
And she did not have the intelligence to recognize that this assignment is probably the biggest government mission she will ever be entrusted.
She did not seize the housing post as a great chance to show and prove her leadership skills, as well as a means to hone her political skills and instincts.
Instead of building from this base toward a future of dignified stability and security – for herself and her family – she allowed herself to be seduced by the delusional politics and false promises of the Liberal Party and the Yellow Cult.
In the major decisions of her fairly short political life, never has Robredo shown the core of a conviction politician, who has strong beliefs and policy ideas, and has a clear idea of where she wants to go.
Stealing the vice-presidency
Robredo’s allegation of “a plot to steal the Vice-Presidency” does not look like something that came out of her mind. It seems like the product of minds advising or using her.
The idea, as one blogger (GRP pundit) has commented: ‘is to preempt the Supreme Court sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal’s decision. It is to force the SC-PET into deciding in her favor. It is to poison the well so that there will be only one acceptable result.
“They will accept a favorable decision from the PET. But if the PET finds that she benefited from electoral fraud, they will protest and claim that she was cheated and that the vice-presidency is being stolen from her.”
But why are Robredo and the LP afraid of the PET? They have a copy of the protest. They have a copy of the evidence against her.
The hard part will come when people start to question whether Leni really and truly believes that she won in the May 9 elections, and whether she knows how she won.
Can she construct a plausible narrative and mathematical model of how she won the vice- presidential contest against Bongbong marcos?
How does a candidate for the presidency or vice-presidency win office without winning a single city or municipality in Metro Manila, the richest trove of votes in the country?
How does she win after losing decisively the Overseas Filipino vote?
The Liberals and yellow loyalists know that an honest recount, superintended by the Supreme Court would return a negative verdict against Robredo.
So the strategy now is to derail the protest and recount.
A weapon against Duterte
In being cajoled and finally persuaded to run alongside Roxas, Robredo allowed herself to be used by former president Aquino and the Liberal/Yellow cult. And now they want to use her as a pretend opposition leader against President Duterte, for an agenda that is not yet known.
Leni will be turned into a weapon for attacks against Duterte, and against the possible march of Bongbong Marcos to the vice-presidency.
It’s not Leni’s fault that the Liberals and the Yellows have lost power. Why should it be her responsibility to solve their political power outage?
It’s time Leni learns to answer such questions herself.