That Rep. Leni Robredo , the level-headed, thoroughly-grounded wife of a true icon of good governance is now the Exhibit A of instant gratification is a sad turn indeed for Philippine politics. Many are just too numb to even ask this question: Why Leni? That the widow of an awe-inspiring man suddenly agreed to be the running mate of the least inspiring man in Philippine politics – our version of Jeb! – struck many as the big moment of Leni’s indiscretion.
Indeed, Why oh Why Leni? Is there even an empirical basis for that decision?
Mar Roxas, is the best candidate on paper, but was best qualified for a presidential run during the heyday of the Washington Consensus. He can make the hearts of the Davos Crowd and the Makati Business Club swoon. His proper time in PH leadership was the time technocracy, (it was much better if it were soulless technocracy), was the rage of the world. But this is the 21st century and the Pope Francis and Thomas Piketty – and the inequality debates – have been shaping the global conversation.
And, if you were observant enough, you would have noticed that Karl Marx, long archived and forgotten, looms large in today’s economic debates.
Mar Roxas, with his piety to the free market rules and reckless capitalism, is simply the candidate that does not meet even a single item in Pope Francis’s ideal of a leader. He cannot and he should not be the leader of the country in the altered, less free market-addicted environment of the 21st century. He does not and he will not fit into Sec. Robredo’s tsinelas style of humane and humble leadership.
Did Leni, often too jolted by the misery of parts of Bicol and the Bondoc Peninsula, not see the heartless technocracy of Mar Roxas and not see through a leader that views the poor as the baggage that drags down growth rates and credit upgrades? Leni, if we can call you that, we can tell you straightaway that Mr. Roxas’ time has passed and he is an irrelevant, archaic figure in the 21st century.
The many believers of Rep. Leni’s late husband, Sec. Robredo, if they can appeal to her would write to her this way:
“Your presidential candidate, if we can address you as Leni, does not have a sliver of humanity, just like his political bro and sponsor, Mr. Aquino. Amid the awesome, amazing drop in global poverty – a real breakthrough – Mr. Aquino and his partner Mr. Roxas presided over five years of massive incompetence in poverty reduction. The UN just reported that the Philippines under Aquino-Roxas has been the kulelat in poverty reduction in the Asean region , a grand design of the duo. And they have less than a year, plenty of time really to further bludgeon the vulnerable.
In contrast, former basket cases are no longer surveyed on poverty reduction because they have permanently beaten the curse of massive poverty rates.
Are you oblivious to that sad governing reality that does not factor ordinary lives?”
How Rep. Robredo got suckered into accepting the LP’s VP slot is full of “whys” but we can divine some of the reasons behind the acceptance.
She was convinced that the Aquino government needed a Part 11 and the segue to the leadership of Mr. Roxas was the only path to the Part 11.
She was thoroughly convinced that all her personal and family opposition to the VP run were all inconsequential compared with the national good that her running would achieve.
She was probably given the scenario of scary alternatives such as the Binay presidency (crook), the Poe presidency (clueless) and the Duterte presidency (killing fields). We just don’t know how a possible Binay presidency was laid down in vivid and graphic terms to Rep. Robredo but we can presume it was blacker and scarier than the newspaper headlines.
Of course, she was told that victory would be the inevitable result of the partnership with Roxas and her vice presidency would be a consequential one.
Everything true about Philippine politics was swept under the rug by the Aquino-Roxas bros during the talk with Rep. Robredo. Such as:
Mr. Roxas has the least chance of winning among the presidential candidates. His polling numbers have artificially risen but still below the front-runner Poe. Poe remains on top despite her citizenship issue. Mr. Binay remains competitive despite the scary stories about him, mostly candidacy-threatening issues such as “plunder and jail.”
Mr. Roxas cannot get past Mayor Duterte who has yet to declare his candidacy. The entry of Mr. Duterte will hurt Mr. Roxas most as the figures on the preference for Poe and Binay have stabilized. The bump in polling that Mr. Roxas got will probably go to Mr. Duterte.
If Mr. Roxas, as predicted, fails in his presidential bid Leni Robredo, under the best-case scenario, will be a vice president that would fit into Mr. Garner’s idea of a VP, “ a pitcher of warm spit.” A defeat would set her back politically, temporarily or for good.
Her defeat would trigger week-long celebrations by the Bicol warlords. Would she want to be witness to that?