THE punishment for pretending you are someone you are not, hoping that wealth and power can cover up for your inadequacy, is always a steep fall from an undeserved pedestal.
No amount of support from Loida Nicolas Lewis can turn Leni Gerona Robredo into a statesperson that she could not become. Everytime Robredo speaks there is an inauthenticity that is revealed, one that cannot be hidden even by high-paid PR work nor by aggressive social media operations.
One could not even claim that those who voted for her during the 2016 elections were swayed by sympathy for this widow of Jesse Robredo who was packaged as another Cory Aquino. In fact, it is safe to say that her alleged victory, which remains contested due to its mathematical improbabilities, is a product not of a sympathy vote, but simply of machine politics. She benefited from ballots in ARMM in the same way that traditional political warlords won there—through an obvious deployment of blind obedience to a command. And not even because of religious obligation such as the bloc votes of the Iglesia Ni Cristo, but due to “zero-your-enemy” tactics that have symbolized the raw power of dynastic secular political structures.
And yet she claims that she is a shining opposite of what the Marcoses represent– saintly like Cory to the evil of Marcos the father, as she is to the son.
This is the burden that we have to bear for the politics that engendered Leni Robredo, as it is the same as that which inflicted on us the two Aquinos. They were all based on images that have been produced by social, political and intellectual elites who felt so entitled, of people who behaved as if they had a franchise to our history.
These elites simplified the complex narratives that populated the martial law period as simply between good and evil. And the hold of these dualistic representations on our social and political imaginations has approached near-hegemonic levels. What enabled this was the fact that those who were victimized by martial law became inhabitants of domains that were responsible for the production and reproduction of knowledge and representations. Political detainees became professors, writers, journalists, artists and public intellectuals.
It is this that made it possible for Corazon Aquino to be venerated until today as a saintly apparition who brought democracy. Just circulating recently are pictures of t-shirts printed with such an acclamation.
It is also this that made it possible for her average, unextraordinary, sophomoric son to become President.
And it is this that made it possible to paint the Marcoses as one-dimensional evil.
And it is along the same logic that Leni Robredo has been inflicted on us.
Our social imaginations are so vulnerable to hero worship that it is easy to exploit this to manufacture images. Jesse Robredo has been edified as the best that the Bicolanos could offer to nation-building. His untimely death was used as the political capital to turn his wife into a political star for which she has no gravitas.
#LeniLeaks has revealed so many things, but one of the most significant is that it enabled people to see the lies and the cover-ups. Indeed, the e-mail exchanges do not in any way provide a strong case for sedition. But the exposure led to the unraveling not only of Loida Nicolas Lewis but also of Leni Robredo.
Loida Nicolas Lewis has been undressed as a puppet-master. Her justification for her interventionism revealed her naked attempt to misrepresent OFWs by claiming she is like them. OFWs are not rich, not dual citizens and not in positions to orchestrate mass demonstrations against a sitting president. In fact, they voted overwhelmingly for the President and for Bongbong Marcos.
For her part, Leni Robredo was further exposed. In trying to deny her involvement in the controversy, she unmasked herself as one who appears not to have any control over her own social media people who were revealed to have been using her office to attack private citizens. She tries to escape association with Loida by making us believe that she has not talked to her, more so met with her, since June, even as they were in the US for the same conference in August 2016. In trying to make us believe she is untainted, she projects herself as an ingrate for not even calling to thank Loida for her support.
We thought that Leni Robredo’s political career has been damaged with her absence during Typhoon Nina, only to realize that her political grave was already dug by YahooGroups.
To think that even without Typhoon Nina and #LeniLeaks she was already on her way down in the surveys, despite her appeal to sympathy by painting herself as a victim of executive bullying, and by riding on the outrage over the Marcos burial.
She was disinvited to a Malacañang gathering. She tried hard to appear a victim but more people were outraged by her attempt to make it an issue and not at the Palace for the snub.
Leni Robredo has become an image of inauthenticity.
The lies that she tells and that are being told about her eventually diminished her.