Manila Standard Today - Opportunism and Leni Robredo

By Victor Avecilla | Manila Standard Today 

The two weeks prior to the recent four-day weekend saw several public officials making preposterous, self-serving allegations.

In the spotlight is Leni Robredo, the purported vice president of the Philippines, whose public acceptance has deteriorated drastically these past months.

According to the final tally of the Commission on Elections, Robredo won the May 2016 vice presidential election by a margin of more than 200,000 votes over her closest rival, ex-Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

Although the Congress proclaimed Robredo as the winner, Robredo’s supposed victory wasn’t as credible as she had hoped it to be.

Right after the polls closed on election day, and when the tally began, Marcos was winning by over a million votes over Robredo. A few days thereafter, Marcos’ lead was slowly but systematically trimmed. By the sixth day, Robredo was winning.

Was this unusual turn of electoral events attributable to computer fraud? Let the following facts speak for themselves.

Robredo was the Liberal Party bet for vice president. The national headquarters of the LP was the Novotel Hotel at the Araneta Center in Cubao, Quezon City. This hotel is owned by the family of Mar Roxas, the LP candidate for president. Smartmatic was the foreign service provider retained by the Comelec for the operation and maintenance of the automated voting machines used in the May 2016 national elections.

Days before election day, the Comelec moved its nerve-center to the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City. Instead of housing the foreign executives of Smartmatic at one of the many reputable hotels at the PICC complex, the Comelec billeted them at the Novotel.

On election day, it was reported that several voting machines were seen at the Novotel. After Comelec head Andres Bautista inspected a few, but not all, of the rooms of the hotel, he declared that there was no basis for the report.

It was discovered that a Smartmatic official made alterations on the computer program of the voting machines without the permission of the Comelec. After that, Robredo, who was losing in the initial tallies for the past days, was suddenly winning over Marcos.

The facts have spoken.

At any rate, Marcos filed an election protest with the Supreme Court sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal. Claiming it was Marcos who cheated her, Robredo filed a separate election protest with the PET.

After due proceedings, the PET directed Marcos and Robredo to pay their respective protest fees in two installments. Although Marcos paid his first installment, Robredo maintained that she ought to pay her protest fee only after the Marcos election protest shall have been resolved.

Because that excuse did not convince the PET, Robredo was forced to pay the first installment of her protest fee. According to her press releases, Robredo’s relatives raised the P8 million needed. How much was contributed by the LP is uncertain.

Robredo’s political career has been characterized by opportunism. She got elected to the House of Representatives in 2013 on the fame she inherited from her late husband, a Cabinet secretary of former President Benigno Aquino III. After Grace Poe turned down the LP offer for her to run as its vice presidential bet in the May 2016 polls, Robredo readily agreed to do so, even if it was obvious she was only the LP’s second choice.

The Robredo campaign strategy for the vice presidency highlighted her having worn slippers like her husband did, and her having ridden an air-conditioned bus to Bicol.

Taking advantage of the defeat of the LP presidential candidate, Robredo ordained herself as the leader of the political opposition.

Robredo currently resides in a large mansion in the plush New Manila district of Quezon City owned by the LP-controlled QC government – a privilege past vice presidents never enjoyed because they were not partymates of the QC mayor during their terms.

The unsuccessful attempt by Robredo to avoid paying the P8-million installment also speaks much about her. It’s time Robredo realized that she can’t be a freeloader all the time.

Expectedly, Robredo alleges that in paying his election protest fee, Bongbong Marcos is using ill-gotten wealth to return to power. Robredo’s frequent reference to the so-called ill-gotten wealth of the Marcos family is not only irritatingly repetitious; it underscores her manifest inability to discuss and fathom other social and political issues.

Perhaps Robredo is unaware that her campaign bogeyman about the so-called Marcos wealth is no longer as effective as it was during the 1986 elections. Robredo used that bogeyman to scare the electorate against voting for Bongbong Marcos as vice president. She also asserted that a vote for Bongbong will restore the Marcos family to power.

Obviously, Robredo’s strategy failed. Despite the alleged corruption Robredo attributed to the Marcos family, Bongbong Marcos obtained millions of votes, enough to put him in the lead in the initial tallies.

If the Marcos family were as bad as Robredo tried to portray them to be, Bongbong Marcos should have been clobbered at the polls. On the contrary, the millions of votes Marcos got from the electorate not only upset Robredo’s prophecy; it also proved that the Filipino people have had enough of anti-Marcos rhetoric. Political analysts also observed that the millions of votes for Marcos in May 2016 were also votes against the corrupt regime of President Aquino III and his henchmen in the LP—which happens to be the political party of Robredo.

Marcos had many accomplishments as a senator. His greatest achievement was his having almost single-handedly stopped the passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (endorsed by President Aquino III) which would have dismembered the Republic of the Philippines.

What has Robredo accomplished as a member of the Congress or as vice president?