Losing Leni



I have no love lost for Vice President Leni Robredo, but I would rather she was VP than Bongbong Marcos.

Having said that, one wishes she knew what she was doing. That she would have the sense to have a real communications team, one that will have her back and will not allow her to make a fool of herself. One that will tell her to step back, take stock, and regroup. A trusted group of people who will remind her that as Vice President, she does have limitations, even as she might insist on her freedoms, and who will teach her how to push forward and how to retreat.

If there’s anything VP Leni and President Duterte have in common, it is this: both of them do not have people who are in control of their communications. Neither of them have people who ensure that they will be protected even from their own pronouncements. Neither of them have communications teams that already see the damage before it’s even done.

Of course their respective communications teams could say: no, no, we are right here! We are doing our jobs!

Yeah, well, it sure doesn’t look like it.

Talking to the world
For sure VP Leni and her team knew that the message she recorded on the “Human Rights Challenge: Responding to the Extrajudicial in the Drugs War” (released to the public, March 14), would be watched by the world. She was, after all, speaking in English. She was also, to some extent, celebrating the fact that the world and its human rights advocates had their eyes on the Philippines as this apparently gives her “courage and hope.”

But also, VP Leni was addressing attendees to the 60th United Nations (UN) Commission on Narcotic Drugs annual meeting which was to have happened in Vienna Austria on Thursday, March 16. This levels up the stakes, so to speak, as she inevitably feeds the UN’s and the international community’s already very critical stance with regards the drug war in the Philippines.

This is also why one had hoped she would have spent more time putting together a better 5-minute message, one that actually has better statistics than any other media entity, one that actually answers questions instead of repeating questionable facts. One had hoped she would acknowledge the grimness of the situation and the magnitude of the problem. One had hoped for a push and pull, a balancing out of international perception and what is happening on the ground – how it is viewed from the outside, and how it is felt on the inside.

Sure she could take a stand against this drug war – as even those of us who were open to it in the beginning have since changed our minds – but there was a way of putting together this speech that would allow its listeners some space to navigate. There was a need for a little more complexity, a little less sensationalism.

Banking on hearsay
It astounded me that a major part of that message was so obviously hearsay. It saddened me that it was those parts that were about the suffering of real people, in real communities, on the ground.

The truth is one would like to believe VP Leni, and sure it might all be true what she said in that speech about the drug war and what exactly is happening in our more impoverished neighborhoods. But none of that matters if she’s narrating these stories as mere stories, and not as real situationers.

A situationer would have allowed the VP to speak in broad strokes, based on specific data, given the official police operations and the summary executions, given the communities now functioning better and those that live in fear. There are well-done reports, i.e., the ABS-CBN Section on the Drug War, the Amnesty International Report that she could have pulled data from.

But VP Leni was prefacing her narration about the drug war with “they tell us” and “we are told,” making it all seem like hearsay, making its basis questionable. It’s entirely possible of course that the “palit-ulo” scheme, and the rounding up of whole communities in basketball courts to be subjected to warrantless searches, is actually happening. But with this lack of specificity about when, where, what, it all sounded too sensationalist for comfort.

It was like the VP was feeding the international audience what it wanted to hear, providing them with stories they can easily imagine in their heads. It gives even her, and her defense, very little room to navigate.

No context
It was also very sad that VP Leni did not anchor her statements with the fact that the drug war had in fact been suspended by the President, based on the admission that there were dirty cops and rogue police officers. She could have worked on revealing how the number of summary executions also dipped during the suspended drug war operations – and what does that say about the drug war?

She could have spoken of how the return to the anti-illegal drug operations have happened with new promises of decent cops and due process, of more safeguards and more transparency. And what is wrong with that?

She could have mentioned that the last statistic that did come from the Philippine National Police as of December last year was at 6,187 drug-related deaths. And that wasn’t all summary executions. She could have mentioned how many of the thousands killed happened during official police operations, and that those cases are under investigation by the PNP-IAS. And then she could ask what it is we might do with the number killed in summary executions.

She could also have acknowledged the fact that the DSWD has made major moves towards addressing the repercussions of the drug war within communities, and how so many government agencies are working on a real rehabilitation program.

She could have provided us all with facts that she would have access to, more than the rest of us.

But nothing. By the time VP Leni was talking about how “we” had delivered a message to the President on February 24, how “we” had asked him to fight the war against poverty instead of the one against drugs, I was confused about the “we” she was talking about.

Because I might be on her side about ending this drug war.

But after this speech, I am even more certain that she does not speak for me.


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  1. Amnata Pundit on

    After reading what you wrote here about clerico-fascist puppet Mrs. Robredo, what I want to hear from you is why you still prefer her over Bongbong. Your article and your preference for her sounds like one big oxymoron.

  2. Oh stop with the sweet innocence act, if Leni was manipulated it’s because she lust for power! She took the risk, let her suffer the consequences.

    Remember the poem Invictus by William Ernest Henley

    “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my destiny”

  3. arnel amador on

    it appears you are one of those who chose a leader for wrong reason. your very first sentence says it all….
    that lady called VP of this republic have just shown the whole world how happy people we are, that we can afford to smile happily while telling them the horrors around us. that’s epic at high magnitude….

  4. Nakakahiya talaga ang ginagawa niya. It looks like she does not distinguish anymore what good or bad for the country. Ginawa ba niya niyan just to eclipse the Nagaleaks? Shame on her!

  5. Alfredo Aquino on

    The people commenting here are so afraid that the “baho ” of this administration will be scattered in the whole world. Why will you afraid that these will be revealed internationally? What Robredo said are true and are already happening and will be happening as days to come. As to what extent can a man/women with his/her righteous mind can just ignore the fact that we are living in a country where killing is the everyday norm. I appreciated Robredo’s courage to disseminate all her knowledge about the drug on war of this administration. If we just rely to the people surrounding the president which are all “yes boss” to Duterte, we cannot move on as a nation as a whole.

    • Gabriel Martin on

      Oh real now? Where are and your VP the ex congresswoman when your boss BS Aquino who did nothing about the drug problems in our country! The baho of the administration? Man wake up! Hindi na si BS Aquino ang president. Si Duterte na!

  6. Leodegardo M. Pruna on

    If only Leni would use her office to find out who masterminded the mystery still haunting the death of her husband then she would be doing justice at least to JR who met his death in a very mysterious manner. Leni is all show because the LP, P-Noy, the Hyatt 10 and the yellows are out of means to thwart what is coming back to them in “Karma” for the wrongs they have done to the nation. Leni is making a big fool of herself in bowing to the dictates and wishes of the unscrupulous. May God bless our country-the only one we have, the Philippines.

  7. Lea Hetherington on

    Ms. Katrina, sorry to say that you are favoring a person who is selfish and a cold, cold heart. It would be a very, very big mistake if this Leni Robredo will run the country, because she’s only looking after herself.

    • Aphesky Lasa on

      In fairness to Ms Katrina, I don’t think for a second that she favors Leni. In fact, the article is anti-Leni. At the end, Ms Katrina wrote: “But after this speech, I am even more certain that she does not speak for me.”

  8. Leni is very much like a famous former lady politician…. saintly on the outside, evil in the inside. The Filipino people are not stupid to believe her. She is enjoying the limelight and makes sure she is always seen on tv. She is too in a hurry to become the next president. And the yellows are behind her. For Pnoy and his ilks, the hour of reckoning is coming…KARMA is coming!

  9. Thank you, well written.
    It is sad that our VP does not know her job, except to criticise the President. The VP is good in criticising (without proof “daw”, “raw” and “maybe”), could not even suggest/recommend solutions to the drug problems.
    Why not investigate the corruption in the Legislative Branch?
    Some of the Senators and House of Representatives and now including the VP is only serving their own interest rather than the filipino people. Is this the type of government we want?

  10. We thought the VP was intelligent. Hindi pala pwede maging presidente natin. Mababaw, simplistic, not fact-based mag-isip. . but this writer, Ms Santiago, IS very intelligent. Articulated, clarified, organized many of my thoughts.. thank you for this write-up.

  11. nakakalungkot… tila inilaglag tayong lahat ng ating bise presidente sa harap ng mundo. hindi na nga siya nakakatulong, nakaka perwisyo pa. nasayang ang boto ko sa kanya.

  12. Why would you want to end the drug war? Drugs are all over us and now is the right time to stop it before it is too late! Except for that, you have an excellent piece and hope to read more from you Ms. Stuart!

    • Who wants to end the drug war? Me, the people, No,we are not against the drug war! Even the church support it . We want to succeed as a drug-free nation but by eliminating it through reckless killing without due process is against the constitution. The government should think of other method of eliminating drugs without sacrificing human lives!|

  13. Pedro Penduko on

    Leni’s demeanor in that video looks like a highschool cheerleader airheaded slut like in the movie Mean Girls. She is an idiot tries to shoot down President Duterte to the point of Sabotaging her own country.

  14. Miss Santiago the way she smile on the video is a proof that she is making a fool out of herself. On my opinion what she did was very unethical.

  15. I totally agree with everything you said.

    If before most people would give VP Leni the benefit of the doubt regarding her participation in the oust Duterte move, there is no question now that she is in fact part of it. She definitely doesn’t speak for the majority of the Filipinos who are sick and tired of the Elitist government that have ruled our country for so long. If they are still dreaming that all their coordinated effort to get rid of Pres. Duterte from impeaching him to maligning him in the eyes of the world can give them back Malacanang, they may eventually wake up from a terrible nightmare.

    A silent majority is just watching from the sidelines, aware of the sinister moves being orchestrated by different groups with the same selfish interests. These silent majority expect Pres. Duterte to finish his term and implement all the reforms and development badly needed by our country. If the yellow gang think we will allow them to disrupt that expectation, they have another think coming.

  16. Ogie de Guzman on

    Thank you, I commiserate with you and the millions of Filipinos living in the Philippines how we were poorly represented by the sitting Vice President. Do not be surprised if she gets impeached for her abysmal work as Vice President. Correct you are, she does not speak for us.

  17. Leni has lost her mind, her morals, and all shame. She is following the lead of her hopeless, malicious, and evil idols “Ls – Loida and Lima. Short-term karma is aiming its arrow at her.

    I would rather have anyone else as vp. She probably was the recipient of smartmatic creativity. Her dark character and stupidity is showing.

  18. **** But nothing. By the time VP Leni was talking about how “we” had delivered a message to the President on February 24, how “we” had asked him to fight the war against poverty instead of the one against drugs, I was confused about the “we” she was talking about. ***

    Why doesn’t she wants to fight the drug calamity engulfing the Philippines right now. Is she involve into drug money? This is a very alarming statement coming a VP of the country.

    Drugs is a very costly habits and the root of some crimes. You have to solve drugs and poverty together. By her statement alone she does not deserve to be VP.

    The Catholic church had a big role in the poverty going on in your country. I saw on youtube one poor mother having 8 kids. The concept of not allowing married couple to have free access to birth control is what creating the poverty, poor parents creating more poor children since they cannot afford to send them to school. In fact everyone should have free access to birth control since Philippines is right now over populated.

    A poor parents, if they only have one or two child, it might still be possible to give those children bright future with their limited resources.

    Along with poverty, drugs, your country had to get rid of the unhealthy political influence of the Catholic church.

    *** Because I might be on her side about ending this drug war. ***

    Why do you want to end the drug war, Philipines is already a narco state, how much worse do you want it to be? Why would you want to destroy your own country?

    • I can not believe that anyone would still justify Robredo’s action esp from a respected writer. The solution lies in our leaders. She is now a VP, a questionable one but still recognized as one. She can either help or shut up.

  19. Gerglen Diaz on

    well, opinion mo yan maam.. ang masasabi ko lang… wala talaga yang Leni na dating (Leni mo).. hhaha

  20. Sad truth for vp leni, she let herself being manipulated by her political backers. She sounded more like Trillanes in that video. She is telling the world to help her oust the sitting president so that she could become one. The country was shamed and embarrassed.