I didn’t want Leni Robredo to run for President.
The wife of former DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo was a reluctant candidate for Vice President. She was a human rights lawyer, championing the people, while Jesse was the one who went into politics.
And yet, there she was, thrust into the limelight because of her husband’s death.
This was a lady so passionately enraged by the fact that a Marcos had the audacity to run for the second-highest position in the country that she took the challenge of competing against him.
Even as she won, there were questions about her motivations. And why would there not be?
All those years as a human rights lawyer made her one of the strongest critics of the president, who was going hard on his war against drugs. She was present in disasters and emergencies. It seemed like she was campaigning as early as her first year in office.
However, she publicly claimed that she had no ambition of running for president.
This was a known fact from way back and has been a recurring theme. (Image Source)
I didn’t want her to run because I wanted to hold on to the belief that there are people who do what they do because it is right, not because it provides publicity.
I feared that this person with pure intentions would be forced to run because she had the influence and following that could make her a strong contender for the position.
I figured, with such a big population, there surely would be others who can run, right?
The rest of the field came to mind, and I do get their pros and cons. And then I came to Leni.
The Insignificant Position
The Vice President position has mostly been insignificant.
And it essentially is.
According to the 1987 Constitution, unless the President offers a cabinet position to the VP, it’s basically a position waiting for the president to step down or die.
Apart from being the second-highest position in the country, it doesn’t provide clear advantages in terms of setting a person up to move to the presidency.
To put this in perspective, the only VP to win the presidency since democracy was restored in 1986 was Erap Estrada. You probably had to Google who GMA’s vice president was when she first assumed office. You probably even remember Binay as Makati’s mayor than Noynoy’s Vice President.
However, we all got to know Leni one way or another, especially during this pandemic. She was one of the few bright spots in public service.
A "we" not "me approach to helping.
She didn’t have the support of the president because he thinks that she’s doing this to improve her image. However, that didn’t stop her from doing what she’s doing. It didn’t matter what people thought, the important thing is that she was able to do her part as a human being during these trying times.
The Biggest Lie
The biggest lie that Duterte supporters want to spread is that you’re either pro-Duterte or you’re “Yellow.” Similar forces are trying to trickle it down to being either a pro-Marcos or pro-Aquino debate as well.
The multi-party system that the Philippines has made these impossible. We don’t have a system of government similar to the US where there are Republicans and Democrats. There are multiple political parties that merge and branch out as needed based on their political agenda.
If you weren’t pro-Duterte in 2016, it didn’t mean you’re Yellow, because 9 million people also voted for Grace Poe. Then there are the people who advocated for Miriam Defensor-Santiago. Then there’s the Makati population who voted for Jojo Binay.
Leni Robredo announced her run for presidency wearing blue and campaigning with the color pink, probably in an attempt to distance herself from the traditional yellow signature of the Liberal Party.
Her detractors would point to the fact that she is linked with the Liberal Party, and therefore with the Aquinos as well. They would claim that she too, must answer to the crimes and shortcomings of the Aquinos.
They conveniently ignore the fact that they are trying so hard to wash the hands of BBM from the sins of his father, or Sara from the shortcomings of her father, which are natural associations because of their names. Not even political parties, but their names.
Supporting Leni is difficult because if you are to believe the biggest lie being spread since 2016, then you are suddenly aligned with the Yellows or the Aquinos. Additionally, if you still believe the lie at this point, then you are precisely the reason why democracy in our country doesn't work.
Rising Over Dirty Politics
This is exactly why I didn’t want Leni to run for president. If they can’t destroy her by associating her with the Liberal Party, they will dig deep and find anything that can be used against her.
Videos of her claiming to have no ambition to become the president will surface again to show that she’s a hypocrite. Maybe a failed case from the past would blame her for their suffering. Maybe her kids posted something in 2007 and she’d get the blame for being a bad mother.
I don’t think she deserves to be in the middle of that mess. I hoped that she would just throw her support to one of the aspirants so that she can go back to her small town and do what she does best in her capacity as a private person or as a leader in local government.
Yet here she is, passionately announcing her desire to run for president.
Leni announced her candidacy on 7 Oct, a day before the final day of filing. (Image Source)
I am voting for her not because of her affiliation or because of her speech. I’m voting for her because I believe that like Manny, she is a good person to her core. I believe that like Sara, she is a strong woman. I believe that like Ping, she does things not for recognition but because it is right. I believe that like BBM, she has a good head on her shoulders. I believe that like Isko, she is a self-made woman, because really, who knew Jesse Robredo before his helicopter crashed?
Most importantly, I believe that she is nothing like Bong Go or Bato Dela Rosa.
I admire labor leader Leody De Guzman for gunning for the position, and while I don’t think he will be a serious contender, I do hope that his filing of candidacy would be a loud enough statement for Leni to hear out his causes and incorporate it to her platforms.
Voting for the Country
I voted for Noynoy Aquino thinking he would have the trust of the people if he decided to update the constitution.
I voted for Rodrigo Duterte thinking he was the strong leader that the country needed at the time. He laid out some plans that I wanted to personally do if I were running the country. I felt he was the embodiment of my ideologies.
As their terms went on though, I grew frustrated by both decisions. I realized that I voted for the sake of the country and neglected the kind of people I was voting into the position.
Noynoy spoke well but did not have the political will needed to lead the country. Duterte had the political will to lead but decided to use it to expand his influence.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe that they did some good things. However, they didn’t have the effect on the country that I hoped they would because they pushed for their personal interests.
Still, I don’t believe that the other candidates would have performed better if they won. Refer to the logical fallacy Contrary to Fact before trying to argue your case.
Voting for a Person
The president that we need is not someone who will alleviate everyone from poverty, end traffic, put a stop to crimes, or elevate the country from its third-world status. These are long-term goals that can be achieved with genuine concern for our fellow countrymen.
The president who will be voted in will not be the savior that solves all the problems that we currently have.
This is the reason why I am choosing now to vote for a person, not for the promises being made, or what effects they may have if put in a position of power.
I look now to what kind of person I am voting for. I want the president of my country to treat the position as something that was entrusted to them by the people, not something that makes them a god - untouchable no matter what they choose to do.
I think that Leni should not have run for president. However, since she has decided to take the challenge, I want to fully support her.
I’m choosing to vote for Leni because I believe that she is a good person and that she can use her position to act on this goodness.
I believe that she will not save the country, but she can inspire the people to work together in saving it.
I believe that I am voting for a person, not for her affiliation.
Like my previous votes, I believe that there’s a chance that I’d grow frustrated with her leadership as well. However, that’s the beauty of democracy – you can speak your mind freely without the fear of persecution.
There’s no right or wrong answer in politics. It’s like faith – it’s a matter of belief. We want to trust that what we believe in is right.
However, while we can only confirm the real score in faith when we die, we only need to vote in politics.
Our one vote makes this democratic system works. I hope that you make it work, no matter who you choose to vote for.