The Manila Times - Leni’s latest blunder

By Jojo Robles | The Manila Times

IT took her some time to articulate it, but at least now we know where Vice President Maria Leonor Robredo stands on the issue of the reported plan of the Supreme Court to remove Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno: Robredo intends to right this wrong, with all the power she has as duly elected vice president of the land.

Those are Robredo’s own words, by the way, in a speech defending Sereno this week. Robredo also said, in suspect grammar: “We will not go quiet into the night.”

Some other official (or her speechwriter) would have gone easy on the Dylan Thomas and “Independence Day” allusions, of course. Not Robredo, who is still apparently in the same mood she was when she challenged the columnist Rigoberto Tiglao to “bring it on.”

It’s easy to suspect that Robredo is making up for lost time in the case of Sereno. After all, she was the only prominent and currently active Yellow who was not a signatory to the two-page newspaper ad taken out by a group calling itself the Coalition for Justice that basically called on the Senate to ignore the Supreme Court’s move to remove Sereno by acting on a quo warranto petition.

Maybe Robredo’s colleagues pressured her to make her presence felt on the Sereno issue since she was unable to sign the coalition’s manifesto. Maybe she just takes a little more time than other people to process information and to take a stand.

Whatever the reason for the delay, I’m glad that Robredo has now unequivocally stated her position on the matter. From hereon, there will no longer be any more pussyfooting and we can now proceed to inquire about what the vice president intends to do about the Sereno case, apart from referencing verbal tropes from popular culture in her speeches.

First, I want to know what Robredo means when she says she will do everything in her power on the matter of the Supreme Court’s action against Sereno. What precisely is Robredo’s power when it comes to persuading the high court or the Senate, apart from the power that any other citizen has?

To be clear, Robredo is not a member of either the tribunal or the Upper House of Congress. She certainly cannot vote either on the quo warranto petition being decided by the tribunal or in the impeachment trial that may happen in the Senate.

I am aware that Robredo is a lawyer, but as far as the high court is concerned, her opinion of the Sereno quo warranto case is as important as the legal musings of Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo. Yes, Pabillo, the cleric who has basically called on the Senate to proceed with impeaching Sereno with little regard for what the high court is currently doing – and with even less understanding of how the legal process now unfolding works.

Robredo is not a party in the Sereno case before the high court. She has as much power to persuade the court in that regard as any of the 350 people who signed the paid newspaper ads – which is to say, nothing.

In the case of the Senate impeachment trial, that’s not even happening yet, because while the House justice committee has already moved to ask the plenary to vote to impeach Sereno, the case has not yet reached the full chamber for voting. There is no impeachment case to speak of, as yet, because nothing has been sent to the Senate.

Robredo is left with the usual power as it is defined by her friends of the Yellow persuasion – the power of peaceful protest, if she doesn’t want to break any laws. Nothing more, nothing less.

Secondly, I wish I could understand what Robredo means when she says, alluding to that Yellow anthem “The Impossible Dream,” that she intends to “right this wrong” that was perpetrated on Sereno. Does this mean that the vice president, who took this long to deliberate on the case of the embattled chief justice, has already decided that an injustice has been done to Sereno by her own peers in the highest court in the land?

What evidence did Robredo consider before making this verdict? Or is she not once again merely mouthing what the coalition of her Yellow friends is asking her to say?

Finally, I have a bone to pick with Robredo saying that she is the duly elected vice president of the Philippines. Unfortunately for Robredo, the issue of whether or not she has been legally voted into office is not yet settled, because of the election protest against her pending before the same Supreme Court that she is assailing, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal.

I know that the justices of the high court will do their best not to let Robredo’s maligning them in the Sereno case affect them when they consider her electoral protest. But you can’t help but wonder, because the justices are also human beings, if they will be able to totally forget that Robredo has basically called them perpetrators of injustice in the case of Sereno.

All things considered, I wonder if it crossed Robredo’s mind that perhaps she should not have spoken at all on Sereno’s case. After all, she’s already really late to the party of her Yellow peers and her own protest case may be put in jeopardy because of her intemperate statements.

But nobody ever accused the vice president of perspicacity and prudence. In fact, her most common mistake has always been the perception that she can always be relied upon to blindly parrot her party’s position, regardless of how clueless this makes her appear.

Once again, I fail to see any upside for Robredo in this case. Her belated and unthinking defense of Sereno is just further proof that the vice president cannot think for herself – and that she takes an awful lot of time even to just say what she is told to say.