Public affairs by text messaging and other sorrows



First read
As an erstwhile newspaper editor and communications consultant, I do not understand why our public officials do not prepare full public statements when they have to deal with an issue of personal or official interest to them.

I also do not understand why editors nowadays tolerate stories from reporters that are driven only by text messages.

As communication tools have multiplied in the information age, many Filipinos have paradoxically become more lazy and inept in communicating. They don’t take the time to compose their thoughts and messages more coherently. They just reach for the quickest “speed of light” technology to fire away.

This trend is in stark display in the bizarre firing and resignation of vice-president Leni Robredo from President Duterte’s cabinet. The affair was executed entirely through text messaging.

It was a case of what Barbara Tuchman called, “history being written while it is still smoking.”

Text messages and Twitter statements
The Robredo comedy started rolling when Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco, Jr. on Saturday sent a text message to Vice-President Leni Robredo telling her that President Rodrigo Duterte wanted her to stop attending Cabinet meetings starting Monday, December 5.

The text message read: “Good afternoon, Madam Vice President. Mayor Rody Duterte thru Bong Go asked me to relay to you his instruction for you to desist from attending all Cabinet mtngs starting this Monday Dec 5, 2 pm. Ty.”

Robredo reacted to this with her own text message. She said:

“We received a text message last Saturday from Cabinet Secretary Jun Evasco Jr., relaying the President’s instruction through [presidential aide]Bong Go for me ‘to desist from attending all Cabinet meetings starting this Monday, December 5.’ This is the last straw, because it makes it impossible for me to perform my duties.

“Hence, I am tendering (sic) my resignation from the Cabinet on Monday, December 5, 2016. With this resignation, you can expect that I will continue to support the positive initiatives of this administration and oppose those that are inimical to the people’s interest.”

But then, the vice president felt she did not say enough. She sent out another text message or Twitter statement:

“I had been warned of a plot to steal the vice-presidency.

“However, as your duly elected vice- president, I will not allow the vice presdiency to be stolen. I will not allow the will of the people to be thwarted.

“I will continue to serve the Filipino family and fulfill their dream of a better life.”

But she was still not done. She hurriedly texted: “The events of recent days indicate that this plot [to steal the vice-presidency]is now being set into motion.”

Then, realizing what she would be losing in leaving the Cabinet, she wrote wistfully: “We had hoped this day would not come…”

Throughout this drama, it never occurred to Robredo and her handlers to write a forthright statement that would spell out her position and her fears. Never did they bother to tax their minds for a coherent strategy that would be effective, or a message that would be believed. Laziness was all.

Irreconcilable differences    
Not surprisingly, the drama did not unfold as Robredo hoped.

Evasco explained the president’s directive as engendered by “irreconcilable differences” between the president and the vice-president. Robredo’s public avowal of differences with the President’s policies would no longer be tolerated. It had reached the point where she could no longer have her cake and eat it, too.

Press Secretary Martin Andanar bluntly stated that the alleged plot to steal the vice- presidency was just coming (an invention?) from the vice-president’s camp. There is no plot in the Palace or the administration.

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez took away the fig leaf of resignation by saying that Robredo was fired.

Why did this experiment of working together between the top two officials of the land end so badly and so clumsily?

Robredo from the first did not comprehend the peculiar politics and stakes of her position. She came into the arrangement not only as the second highest official of the government, but also as the highest ranking member of the Liberal Party (LP), but without being named as party president.

When the tensions between the administration and the LP came to the fore, political demands would be levied on her.

Soon or later, the idea of Robredo as vice-president and housing czar would become untenable.

Robredo needed not only to have the confidence of President Duterte. She needed also to have the confidence of the Filipino people.

Duterte and Robredo initially hit it off swimmingly as DU30 flirted with Robredo and flattered her about her legs, a presidential indulgence that sometimes bordered on sexual harassment. But after five months, DU30’s confidence in the vice- president is now all gone.

What tipped Robredo over the cliff
Robredo has real problems with other members of the Cabinet because of her increasingly open dissent with the president’s policies.

If she could recognize the last straw in presidential treatment of her, the Cabinet and the President’s advisers had also seen enough.

From what I could gather, the key issues that tipped Robredo over the cliff were:

1. First, her highly public opposition to the Duterte-authorized Marcos burial at the Libingan ng mga bayani (LNMB), which continued even after the Supreme Court had ruled on its legality.

2. Second, her loud criticism of the House probe of Senator De Lima and her dealings with the illegal drugs trade.

3. Third, her public criticism of the ongoing war on drugs and the alleged extra-judicial killings it has engendered.

To many Duterte insiders, the Vice President appeared to be promoting herself and her politics at the expense of the President and the administration.

When an individual, politician or otherwise, agrees to join the official family of the President, he/she does so on the explicit, not just tacit, understanding that he/she would publicly support the President and his policies, and would work in concert with other members of the administration.

This support Robredo failed to supply.

Her firing from the Cabinet has disrobed her, and she now must find out for herself whether the LP and the Yellow Cult will embrace her as their leader, or whether they have any political clout left.

Media not a stenographer of deceitful statements
When Robredo issued her statement that she had been warned of an alleged plot to steal the vice-presidency, she did not say that it was a plot to steal from her, she vaguely suggested that it was a plot to steal the office, which on its face could mean anything.

Such an allegation requires substantiation for the public and the media to give it credence. The media cannot be a stenographer for deceitful statements.

During his state visit to China, President Duterte “joked” that the country would have a new vice president if Marcos wins his electoral protest.

That’s when Robredo started seeing a plot to steal her office.


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  1. In most countries, cabinet members are chosen from the winning Presidential candidate party to avoid any dissent from the party’s program. Leni is lucky that she was given the privilege to be in cabinet of DU30 while is in the opposition. But, she bungled it. Instead of cooperating, she instead used DU30 given trust to her, to lambast her Boss and used it as a leverage to prop up her popularity and worst she always does these in public through the media.

    She know’s she bungled it and her camp immediately add another drama to make it controversial by adding that there is a plan to steal her vice-presidency. My Gosh! what a rubbish statement. Is she not high on drugs when she said this? How on earth can you rob a vice president position? Her position is being questioned in PET which is composed of the justices of Supreme Court. None of this justices is an appointee of Marcos who was out 30 years ago. In case she will lose in the election protest she definitely will lose her vice presidency but in a legal way not through extra legal means. She must have been informed by their moles in SC about her precarious position in the protest that’s why she now asking public support for another MOB POWER. PITY AND PATHETIC.

  2. If you are fired by the president by text, the proper protocol is to text back “K” and shut up. Not text blast everyone “they are plotting against me”

    Last night on TV patrol when ka Noli asked ma’am Leni how is her VP position going to be stolen, nautal siya sa paghagilap ng sagot.

  3. TAMA LANG YAN GINAWA MO LUGAW QUEEN… mag pa-cute ka na lang palagi…para tuluyan ka nang mawalan nag papel sa gobyarno na talaga namang hindi para sa’yo… Kawawa kana pag wala kana sa cabinete kasi wala ka ng i-re-report sa mga dilaw… wala ka ng silbi sa kanila.. kawawa rin ang kabutihan at kasikatan ng asawa mo dahil ginamit lang sa iyo’ ng mga dilaw at hanggang ngayon yata hindi rin malinaw kung talagang aksidente nga ang pagka-matay ni Jessie Robredo. (may be: alam ng mga dilaw na si JESSIE ROBREDO ay mahigpit na kalaban sa presidential election 2016 pero nagkamali sila at hindi nila nakita si Pres. Du30 on that time.)

  4. vp lenny had it coming because she played bad politics. inabuso niya ang tacit approval sa kanya ng pangulo na kumontra sa ilang polisiya. naging obvious tuloy sa pananaw ng mga marcoses ang kanyang ambisyon.
    now, she’s saying na ‘nanakawin’ din ang v.p. position niya. masyado yata adelantado ang tatement na ito. if it’s proven later on sa re-count na si bongbong ang nanalo, sino sa kanila ang nagnakaw ng boto/puwesto? it would be best that lenny dissociate herself from liberal party.

  5. Leni was pushed out of the cabinet because she could not do the job. So far, she has handled everything badly. Now we are looking beyond her pretty face and seeing what that she is not very good.

  6. Ohhhh Leni, my dear!!! ………

    If you work for a man, in heaven’s name work for him; speak well of him, and stand by the institution he represents. Remember– An ounce or loyalty is worth a pound of cleverness. If you must growl, condemn, and eternally find fault, why– resign your position and when you are on the outside, damn to your hearts content – but as long as your are a part of the institution do not condemn it. If you do, the first high wind that comes along will blow you away, and probably you will never know why. (Quote from Hubbard’s statement of loyalty)

  7. When will the recount of votes start? I also cannot understand why on election day more or less 2 million voters wrote their president’s name but failed to fill in the space immediately proceeding, that of the vice-president’s. And on the premise that Marcos got 0 vote in some areas would be perplexing because there is no barangay where there are no INCs (who pledged their undying support for the Marcoses). In the USA, they started the recount in Wisconsin, right the next day they announced it. So, what is Robredo afraid of? Steal her Office? Who have stolen from whom is the issue, isn’t it? And the Marcos protest anchored at the Supreme Court will eventually right the wrong, if ever there was.

    • e maddara, robredo is playing to the crowd of clueless millenials and the yellow cultists by invoking the plot to steal the vice presidency from her. she very well know, as a lawyer, marcos’ protest will be decided by the supreme court sitting as presidential electoral tribunal and du30, even if he wants to, cannot order the sc justices since the sc chief is a yellow cultist together with 4 others. but sadly the clueless millineals, by design or naivette, take her words as true