LENI Robredo is making a scene. She is accusing the President and Bongbong Marcos of plotting to steal the vice presidency from her.
She is saying this after she was constructively dismissed from the Cabinet. She resigned after being told
through text, upon instructions of the President, to desist from attending Cabinet meetings.
There are several angles being floated around on the real reason of her departure from the Cabinet.
There are those who say she was dismissed for being a non-performer. Others point out the irreconcilable differences that she had with the President and her very vocal opposition to his stand on many issues, including the burial of Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, the war on drugs, the President’s attack on Senator Leila de Lima, and the planned restoration of the death penalty.
Yet, there are also those who floated the intrigue that she was leaking confidential information discussed during Cabinet meetings, and that she refused to cooperate in the investigation of the Yolanda housing anomalies.
But the most eyebrow-raising is her allegation that there are attempts to steal the vice presidency from her.
She is presenting herself as being the object of political harassment, a target of a sinister plot to oust her as Vice President and replace her with Bongbong Marcos. Her supporters and partymates at the Liberal Party are quick to deploy as a battle cry the hashtag #ProtectLeni and #DefendDemocracy, even as they once again paint the return of the Marcoses to power as the convenient bogeyman.
But it is perhaps important for us to ask Leni Robredo this question: How exactly do you steal the vice presidency?
To allege stealing a position presupposes that it will be through extra-constitutional means.
However, it could never be by a coup, since such usually targets the head of state or government, and not his spare tire. In fact, it is even more plausible for a Vice President from the opposition ranks like Mrs. Robredo, to be the one to plot and steal the presidency, and not the other way around.
The only way Mrs. Robredo can lose her seat is through constitutional means.
She can be unseated through impeachment. However, as of now, there is no ground to impeach her considering that a less than stellar performance at the HUDCC is not an impeachable offense. Her political difference with the President, as long as only expressed but not used to undermine him, does not constitute betrayal of public trust or treason.
She could however lose her seat through an electoral protest.
Bongbong Marcos has filed an electoral protest against her, and the case is now with the Supreme Court, acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, or PET. Marcos has alleged massive electoral fraud during the May 2016 elections, where he claimed to have been a victim of a combination of electronic and conventional forms of cheating.
Marcos alleges that the existence of the illegal fourth server, which was admitted even by Smartmatic, together with traditional methods of pre-shading of ballots that allegedly happened in many areas in the ARMM, may have enabled Mrs. Robredo to steal his votes from him.
Evidence suggests statistically improbable zero-votes for all other candidates except for the Liberal Party tandem of Roxas and Robredo in many areas in the country, particularly in the ARMM. There was also a suspiciously high level of under-votes for vice president, leading one to suspect a more sinister electronic tampering of results.
But all of these are allegations that still need to be proven in a proper proceeding. The camp of Bongbong Marcos has already submitted thousands of pages of evidence to back his allegations, and these have yet to be appreciated by the PET. A recount has not yet been ordered, and when commenced, would take a long time in a proceeding which will be open to all parties, and where Mrs. Robredo’s lawyers would be present.
Thus, it is totally irresponsible for Mrs. Robredo to accuse President Duterte, or his allies, working with Bongbong Marcos, to steal the vice presidency. Raising this amounts to a frontal attack on the PET, as it would impugn the integrity of its members, and the whole process.
The camp of Mrs. Robredo has already floated irresponsible allegations in social media. Several days ago, Robredo partisans already made accusations that Governor Imee Marcos had a meeting with two unidentified Supreme Court justices abroad.
Mrs. Robredo has to be reminded that being unseated through an electoral protest is not stealing. On the contrary, it makes her the thief of a post that is not supposed to be hers.
She has to realize that the best way to defend democracy is to stop undermining it by casting aspersions on democratic institutions and processes, and for her to support the recount. Only a recount would tell us if the vice presidency is rightfully hers, or was indeed stolen, not by Bongbong Marcos, but by her.