BEFORE THE colorless Isko Moreno showed his political mint, Leni Robredo thought he was for real. For a long time, the vice president has been scanning the political landscape for acceptable allies in the land where the Duterte gang seems sleepwalking from lockdown after lockdown in vertiginous, nauseous pattern.
Then the real Makoy, hiding in plain sight all this time, showed up.
“All she had was respect for him”, the benign but civil spokeperson of the Vice President, lawyer Barry Gutierrez, uttered in dismay after Moreno tried to impale her with her anti-Bongbong agenda.He was probably shocked but not surprised. Otherwise, he held his punches, correctly.
Moreno has lately, with no provocation, berated Robredo for her raison d’etre for running for president in the 2022 elections: stopping the dictator’s son. The Junior is on his revisionist path back to Malacanang where he once enjoyed the fruits of a conjugal dictatorship that left the country in worse state than when his family found it.
Is the anti- Bongbong Marcos platform all Leni Robredo, the widow with a mission, has to offer for wanting to become president in lieu of one who now rules with an iconic fist bump and with a penchant for political riddles? There is poverty, joblessness, etcetera all around. Bongbong should be the least of her concern.
Why not? Indeed, as far as Leni is concerned, it should be the biggest reason anyone aspiring to be the next president of a republic heavily damaged by two dictators. Bongbong is to Leni’s brain what durian is to her nose: obnoxious.
Stopping another potential dictator, whether a son or daughter of another, is the secret to fixing the country’s problems on poverty and corruption. In fact, it is evidently sine qua non, as the current probe by Senator Richard Gordon’s blue ribbon committee on the Pharmally controversy underscores. Sen. Manny Pacquiao, another dyed-in-the-wool Duterte supporter until his falling from grace, has exposed another possible scam in another agency.
Now that Moreno has revealed his true and real color, Robredo’s image-boosting has become simpler and easier. She can definitely claim without any conceivable contradiction that she’s the only and real opposition. The rest? They’re just cheap and trying hard copy cats. Or as Karl Marx once penned, history comes as a tragedy first, then it becomes a farce.
For a while, Leni’s sincerity and goodwill had given way to impressionable naivete and flexibility to be inclusive, knowing the difficult task to free the country from the tight-grip of a strongman who has willfully, even playfully, showed a pathological disdain for a rules-based democratic system where the Constitution is bigger than life. A unified opposition is key.
To be fair, Moreno has captured many people’s imagination with his alluring brand of populist and inclusive politics without the combined threats and tantrums of the current tenant by the Pasig River. It helps that he looks immensely better and knows too well how to juice it to the hilt. Robredo must have been impressed by the new kid on the block.
It’s not that Robredo is unaware of Moreno’s background as a Duterte disciple, being an undersecretary of social welfare under this administration until he ran and won as the city mayor after unseating Erap Estrada. There were other presumptive bets like him with doubtful check boxes on their resumes whom Robredo engaged in unification conversation as well. To no avail.
Whatever illusion or hope Robredo might have had about Moreno before as political leader can now be charged to her political experience. It should guide her better in her uphill quest to take back Malacanang from incompetence-driven , compassion-lacking and corruption-riddled leadership.
A caveat though. It may be that now that Moreno has stood for Bongbong, Robredo will be enticed to fight a proxy war and forget Bongbong and others who will be overshadowed by Moreno’s celebrity charm to which many, especially middle-of-the-road voters seem to glom onto. Isko may just be a decoy, like the others, even if one ‘doth protesteth too much”.
In the meantime, Leni is aware that the pungent smell of the Liberal Party has become repugnant to many voters, especially among the progressives. Being labeled a dilawan was like being marked by a scarlet letter. That explains her polite distancing from the Liberal Party with the choice of her own political color. Pink may be a little subdued and unobtrusive but it hides the fire and passion of Robredo about her mission to rescue the country from existentialist threats to democracy who are either playing dumb or dead as if it’s not happening.
A relevant side note to Leni’s independent mindset is how the Liberal Party or its prominent stalwarts appear to be avoiding the microphone or camera about her quest. Perhaps, there is fear the party’s unpleasant scent might spoil Robredo’s spreading aroma as a president in the making. There might be unspoken, unrevealed, unresolved issues,too that Robredo has sensed and has deftly moved away from.
Moreno, who has obviously learned a trick or two in political opportunism, is quick to call out Robredo’s alleged fake agency. Robredo and the public are right to ask: which one is really black, the kettle or the pot?