Former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is out to stifle the will of the people by reversing election results, Vice President Maria Leonor Robredo said on Wednesday.
The Vice President made the comment during a forum on International Women’s Day when she was asked about a pending electoral protest lodged against her by Marcos.
Robredo beat Marcos in the May 2016 vice presidential race by 263,473 votes.
She cited the propensity of pro-Marcos pages on social media accusing her of having two marriages, having a boyfriend, getting pregnant, committing abortion, among others, which were all false.
“I am a target of these false claims not because I am a threat to the President. All the attacks against me are concerted, and they are saying the same thing because they are paid to do that. My opponent in the last elections cannot accept defeat, and he is still hoping that he will sit as Vice President,” Robredo said.
“We need to show them that they could not corrupt the result of the elections. This is a fight beyond the Supreme Court. We should express our sentiments that poll results cannot be bastardized, just like what they attempted to do in 1986,” she added.
Robredo was referring to the 1986 snap elections wherein poll count volunteers walked out in protest since the results were manipulated by the Marcos administration in favor of then sitting President Ferdinand Marcos.
“[Thirty] years [later], they want to reverse election results again, and the solution remains the same: We should not be cowed,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Vice President hit back at anonymous bloggers behind We Are Collective who have accused her late husband and former Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo of coddling drug dealers and jueteng lords in their hometown, Naga City, in Camarines Sur.
According to her, the move of the We Are Collective is a result of her being a staunch critic of the Duterte administration, particularly its war on drugs that already left at least 7,000 people dead, including children, all without charges or trial.
“What is the price of my being vocal [on dissent]? A lot of stories have been [woven]out of nowhere on me. There’s a story on myself being married before I married Jesse, me having a boyfriend, then they stepped it up by accusing me of being pregnant… and when I didn’t have that baby bump, they said I committed abortion.
When they could not get anything going against me, they victimized my husband who has been in resting in peace for the last five years,” she said during the Women Defend Democracy: A Forum on International Women’s Day held in Miriam College in Quezon City.
Jesse Robredo died in a plane crash in Masbate in August 2012 after representing then-President Benigno Aquino 3rd in a government function in Cebu.
Prior to his death, he had served as mayor of Naga City for 18 years and was a 2004 Ramon Magsaysay Awardee for Good Governance.
“Is this how low they can get? This has to end somewhere. It’s okay if they will attack me because I can defend myself. I don’t want to defend myself against these people who won’t even show their real identity and are lying, but I have to draw the line. It is my husband who are they preying on because they can’t silence me,” the Vice President said, her voice cracking.She added that while it is tough enough to be a woman, the Duterte administration makes it even tougher.
“Given a different time, we are better off than other countries as far as gender equality is concerned but there remain women who are victims of domestic violence because they don’t have jobs that will enable them to fend for themselves. But now, these are even extraordinary times. It is more difficult because the environment does not encourage equality,” Robredo said.
“You might recall my time as a member of the Cabinet, I had to endure comments on me as a woman. Even if knees were called out in the national conversation. My knees do not even look that good. At the time, I felt uncomfortable. And what I experienced is not different from the case of any other woman,” the Vice President, a former chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, added.
She was referring to an incident wherein President Rodrigo Duterte made a joke that he and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd have a habit of looking at the Vice President’s knees during Cabinet meetings.
The President made the joke during the commemoration of the Super Typhoon Yolanda tragedy in Leyte where he shared the stage with Robredo.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros, also one of the forum speakers, shared the Vice President’s sentiments.
“We all thought that we don’t need to fight sexism and misogyny anymore. But as it turns out, usong-uso pa rin ang mambastos ng mga babae [a lot of people still subject women to unwanted sexual advances]. We have to resist this, fight for gender equality and at the same time, defend democracy,” Hontiveros said.
“We need to double our efforts… this fight carries a lot of burden, but we will march on,” she added.