AFTER being unceremoniously booted from the Cabinet, Vice President Leni Robredo and her Liberal Party bosses are trying to spin her banishment from Malacañang as part of an alleged plot to “steal” the vice presidency from her.
“I will not allow the vice presidency to be stolen,” Robredo declared in her resignation letter. But other than motherhood statements and unfounded conjectures, the Vice President could not say how the alleged plot was being put in motion.
In an interview with Noli “Kabayan” de Castro during a primetime TV newscast last week, Robredo seemed at a loss for words when asked to elaborate on the supposed scheme to remove her from the vice presidency.
Quizzed by De Castro as to how the vice presidency could be stolen from her when she was elected in the first place, Robredo had this puzzling, meandering discourse for an answer: “Kaya nga. Alam naman natin na… alam nya na bawal kase pag-usapan yung kaso dahil yun ay kabahagi ng ating sinumpaan, kabahagi ng commitment natin. Alam naman natin na nag-file sila ng protesta… kahit alam nila na wala naming basehan yung kanilang protesta. [That’s why. We know that… (Bongbong Marcos) knows that we can’t talk about the case because that is part of our oath, part of our commitment. We know that the (Marcos camp) filed a protest even though they know that their protest has no basis.]” Huh??
Robredo’s bewildering response earned a rejoinder from De Castro, who asked the Vice President if what she meant by the vice presidency being stolen from her had something to do with the protest of Bongbong Marcos against her. Robredo replied: “Kabahagi ng malawak na planong patalsikin tayo sa posisyon. [It’s part of a bigger plot to remove me from the vice presidency.]” Again, Robredo didn’t bother to explain the who, what and how of this purported ouster plan.
We’re sure many thinking Filipinos aren’t buying Robredo’s ouster theory, especially considering that the day after she received the text from Cabinet Secretary Jun Evasco, Jr. asking her to “desist from attending all Cabinet meetings starting this Monday, December 5,” Robredo blamed her strong opposition to the burial of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos as the main reason why Duterte decided to stop her from attending Cabinet meetings.
In fact, when asked if Duterte’s move was to pave the way for Bongbong Marcos’ taking over the vice presidency, Robredo said it would be “unfair” to accuse the President of indirectly firing her from his Cabinet to give way to the younger Marcos. But if it isn’t Duterte, who else would have the power, or (as Robredo says it) the “political skills” to “steal” her post? Obviously, no one.
Clearly, the ouster plot narrative being peddled by Robredo is meant not only to gain the sympathy of her supporters but to also condition the mind of the public that her victory is unassailable and that her removal from the vice presidency, even through a legal process, would be irregular and highly questionable.
We recall that this is not the first time that Robredo whipped up this alleged plot to “steal” the vice presidency. Around two weeks before she was fired from the Cabinet, Robredo went on a media blitz claiming that text messages were circulating about an alleged plan to recount the votes in the May 9 elections without the consent of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET).
According to Robredo’s spokesperson, the objective of the supposed recount outside of the PET was “to steal the vice presidency from VP Leni.” Her spokesperson also claimed receiving a text message from a “trusted source” saying that “early next year, we have a new VP.”
The way we see it, stirring up political noise on the basis of text messages is not only reckless but also irresponsible. It merely confirms the “Oust Leni” plot as a shameless ploy to sway public opinion against a possible vote recount in the 2016 vice-presidential race-–an outcome that Robredo seems to dread.
We all know, however, that the question of “who stole what from whom?” has yet to be determined by the Supreme Court en banc, sitting as the PET, which is mandated by the Constitution to be “the sole judge of all contests relating to the election…of the…Vice President.”
From Marcos’ perspective, it was Robredo who was the thief. “The entire Filipino electorate witnessed how, after commanding a 1-million-plus lead in the votes at 7 p.m. on May 11, 2016, with 75 percent of the votes counted, the numbers suddenly dwindled in favor of Robredo at a uniform ratio of 40-1. This was countenanced by the ‘thieves in the night’,” Marcos said.
Robredo’s razor-thin margin of 263,473 votes over Marcos (the closest ever in a vice-presidential contest), coupled with the poll irregularities involving a Smartmatic technician surreptitiously changing server script midway through the canvassing, created a “cloud of doubt” in the minds of many Filipinos, not least the rabid supporters of Marcos.
If Robredo truly wants to establish her legitimacy as the country’s duly elected Vice President, she should ask the PET to order a recount as quickly as possible instead of “crying wolf.” There is no reason for her to fear a vote recount if she really won the elections fair and square.
The Supreme Court can also do its part in calming the charged political atmosphere in the country by acting with haste on the election protest of Marcos. We understand that there are several motions and pleadings from both parties that have remained pending and unresolved for several months already. Perhaps the good justices of the high court can move the case along before it becomes moot and academic like the Roxas-Binay election protest.