The aftermath of Vice President Leni Robredo’s resignation from President Duterte’s cabinet has proven to me – yet again! – that the strategy at this point of those in power, and I mean government and its Dutertrolls who believe the President is infallible, as well as the Liberal Party and its Daang Matuwid fanatics who believe the Vice President is santa-incarnate, is really only to make fools of the public.
The power struggle is real. And because none of those who are part of the struggle are in the least bit transparent, what is being revealed in all the confusion is the fact that there is little concern about what’s happening on the ground, and no sense at all of the bigger picture.
Basta sila mag-aaway, bahala na ang bayan sumalo ng kaguluhan.
A strategy of confusion
Whatever happened to that memo from Malacañang that said only the Presidential Spokesperson could speak to the public about the President’s decisions? Why is it that the moment VP Leni’s resignation was announced, we heard three different responses? The one about irreconcilable differences, the other about the President being uncomfortable with her, and Communications Secretary Martin Andanar saying VP Leni’s “departure” from the Cabinet was a “surprise” to him because he doesn’t know what’s happening behind the scenes. (Inquirer.net, 5 Dec)
Aba Sir, if you as Communications Chief did not know what was happening – and you articulate that, too – how does that reflect on the government you serve?
Andanar of course makes it worse. Asked about the desist order against VP Leni in a TV interview, he says: “Reading between the lines, it is saying that the President no longer has the confidence and the trust to be in one room with the VP and that is the official meeting of the President and the Cabinet officials, the Cabinet meeting.” (GMA News Online, 5 Dec)
Reading between the lines? Why is the President’s Head of Communications reading between the lines? That is for the public to do, for those who are not in the know, and are not even close to being in that arena of power. Any communications head worth his salt, in government and the private sector both, would know that responding with “Reading between the lines” is just unacceptable: it says that the comms head has no idea at all about what’s going through the President’s head when he makes these decisions. It says that the comms head – in this case Andanar – is not even in the loop about what’s happening in the Cabinet and Malacañang. And if even HE is clueless, pray tell why would the populace be any more informed, any more clear, about what’s going on.
Unless of course, as it’s become obvious, Andanar’s communications strategy is confusion. And that says a lot about the government he represents.
A strategy of pa-victim
Meanwhile, VP Leni’s strategy is no better. It is said that when she received that text message about not being allowed to attend cabinet meetings anymore, she had spoken to a small core group of people about what to do, and she slept on it too, before deciding to resign. And yet that decision might be her worst one yet. Because she could’ve continued working at HUDCC even without attending Cabinet meetings.
It was clear she was not being told to resign, especially when we heard the President had received the news of her resignation “with a heavy heart.” But VP Leni was quick to respond: that is confusing, because what else did he expect me to do?
Well, stay. Stay at the office that you say you have worked hard on, stay as head of a sector that you yourself said is in shambles. There were multiple options here, and a sense of history, but instead there was just black and white, yes and no, and one expects more complex thinking from someone touted as the best thing in politics since forever.
And then Liberal Party paints it as her victimization: #EveryWoman would’ve resigned the way she did given all that she’s been put through.
Why? What has she been put through that #EveryWoman would understand? Certainly, not the amount of power she holds? Certainly, not the privilege that she has, being at the center and held up on a pedestal by the party she belongs to? Certainly, not the idea that if she doesn’t get what she wants (not the budget! not the department of housing! not my recommended appointees!) she’ll just resign – and be declared a hero for it, too!
Please. VP Leni is no more the victim of President Duterte, than VP Binay was the victim of the PNoy government. And if we are to listen to GMA, that happened to her too, during Erap’s time. (GMA highjacked that #EveryWoman hashtag didn’t she? Such a winner.)
A strategy of idolatry
What I cannot understand is the idolatry, even more so of someone like VP Leni. Because Duterte devotees, their fanaticism is understandable: it is the messiah complex, it is speaking so specifically to the poor and addressing their needs (drug war notwithstanding), and winning votes and support in the process.
But idolatry for VP Leni? Putting her on a pedestal like she’s a saint in this time of evil? She who loves the poor versus he who kills the poor? The icon of democracy in this wave of dictatorship discourse?
And to start talking about the President’s annulment records, as if we all don’t know that annulment in this country requires this kind of siraan between husband and wife?
Come on. What is this: election season?
Now VP Leni says she wants to “unite the dissent.” Like she even stands for dissent in any way. Sure she’s on our side against the Marcos burial, and sure we will not stand for Bongbong stealing the VP post. And yes, we stand together against the killings, but it will take more than those statements from the VP to make her a unifying force in any way.
Because right now everything VP Leni says and does just reminds of the Liberal Party ways of the past six years. And I would rather give the Duterte government – five months in – a chance at redeeming itself, rebooting, recalibrating, and getting its act together.
I was patient with Daang Matuwid for six years, but none of their feudal and capitalist ways, elite and burgis decisions, haciendero and patronage politics – which certainly killed Filipinos, too – changed.
And now, Leila de Lima invokes impeachment against the President, five months in?
The senator and the VP should get off their high horses and stop believing their own spin: neither of them will unite dissent.
We are all smarter than that.
Published in The Manila Times, December 11 2016.
Tagged: #DutertesMen, #VPLeni, disinformation, Duterte Cabinet, information, Leila De Lima, Leni Robredo, Martin Andanar, misinformation, Presidential Communications, Presidential Communications Operations Office