The Robredo Narratives and LP Motives

Manila Bulletin, December 5, 2016 | Go to article overview

The Robredo Narratives and LP Motives


By Tonyo Cruz

The manufactured narratives behind Vice President Leni Robredo's resignation or constructive dismissal (just choose depending on your political preference) as HUDCC secretary beg to be reexamined.

First off, the narratives pay only lip service to the people at the margins (laylayan). The resignation is immediate. It offered no consolation to her now-former constituents at HUDCC, which are chiefly the informal settlers in the cities, the rural poor, and even the lower echelons of the middle class. They just became pawns in a brutal political chess game, and the housing problem a political footstool.

All the efforts to convince Duterte to accommodate Robredo in his cabinet in the name of reconciliation, and all the propaganda about putting people first above party - they were vaporized by this lightning resignation.

Secondly, the narratives are quiet on the narrow political interests at play, specifically those of the discredited and repudiated Liberal Party which Robredo leads. Much as some admire the vice president's relative cleanliness, it is not smart to think that people don't see that the LP seeks its own political restoration, as much as the Marcoses want theirs. Wittingly or unwittingly, this latest development signals the LP's initial steps towards recapturing lost political power.

Thirdly, the narratives hide the fact that the LP leadership bench is shallow. Robredo can actually afford to stay in the cabinet if she wants to, if only to direct as much public resources and public power to people in the "laylayan" and act as a counterbalance from within. But no viable opposition leader has come forward. De Lima is busy with her own affairs, and both LP contingents in the House and Senate are aligned with the pro-Duterte majority blocs. (In the case of the House, the LP are in the majority and minority.) They have no choice except Robredo.

Fourth, Robredo is being positioned as the leader of the rising protest movement against the Marcos hero's burial, by virtue of the party's interest of protecting her hold on the vice presidency. How she and the LP would do this, we don't know. But knowing the kapalmuks Yellow political operations in the fairly recent past, it is not far-fetched to predict that they will cleverly attempt to transform this broad united front into a pro-Robredo and LP-led machinery. That would cheapen and weaken the movement, and cause disillusion among the youth.

Fifth, the narratives may not have been straightforward about it, but they are of the same "good vs. evil" line once again, a continuation of the LP's last-ditch scare tactics in the final days of the campaign. It seeks to simplistically limit the people's democratic vision on the political space into just two warring choices.

Truth to tell, Robredo could singlehandedly fix this narrative problem by resigning from the LP. I hope she does, for her own sake and for the nation's. The LP was a fetter to her candidacy then, it is a fetter to protecting her position now.

Recent history's lessons should immunize us from the simplistic and false binary choice being thrown at us. …

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