Vice President Leni Robredo pays courtesy call on President Duterte July 4 2016. (Photo by King Rodriguez of malacañang Photo Bureau)

Unsolicited advice to Robredo: Lead opposition

GIL Ramos, who monitors what’s going on in the Philippines, especially political happenings from the United States where he is based, wrote me his view that it is better that Vice President Leni Robredo is not part of the Duterte cabinet.

I share his view. A democracy can only be vibrant if there’s a strong opposition.

In fact, I cannot understand, the fuss by the Mar Roxas- Leni Robredo supporters about the VP not being appointed to a cabinet position. The President is not obliged to give Robredo a cabinet post and he has already explained why — he is concerned about the feelings of Ferdinand Marcos, Jr, the closest opponent of Robredo. There are other reasons like the friendship of his father to late president, Ferdinand Marcos, as well as the support of the Marcoses to him last election.

Duterte is planning to give Marcos a cabinet position after the one-year ban on candidates who lost in the last May elections and it would indeed be awkward for Robredo and Marcos to be working together under Duterte.

As pointed out by many commentators, the only job of Robredo under the law is to be fit and ready if and when the president is removed from office, either by impeachment or by death.

Ramos said Robredo has a job waiting for her: be the leader of the political opposition which has been decimated by the formation of the supermajority that is aligned with the Duterte administration.

Ramos said here are some things that Robredo can do :

  1. As leader of the opposition review the good things about Daang Matuwid and defend it in the national debate.
  2. Look at the charges being levelled against plain citizen and former president Noynoy Aquino and defend him to hilt.
  3. During Mar’s and your campaign you were critical of the shift to a Federal System. Duterte is moving towards that – so it is your job to point out the possible pitfalls of the move towards Federalism.
  4. The BUB bottoms up budgeting is under review – this is the product of Daang KMatuwid which you run on. Join the debate and argue with Budget Secretary Ben Diokno on why BUB is correct and good for the nation.
  5. There were last minute moves done by the Aquino government. For example there were last minute promulgations that Kim Henares made in the BIR which are now being reversed by the new BIR commissioner. Why are you so silent? Together with Kim Henares you should tell the nation why the last moves of the BIR commissioner were good for the nation.

Ramos said the control and execution of the executive department is Duterte’s job not Robredo’s including alleviating the poor’s plight which she has professed to be her concern. “Wait until Duterte dies or is impeached and the job will be yours. The minuscule monies you have in your VP budget is small compared to what Duterte controls so your efforts will just be seen as ‘also ran’ and ‘me too’ efforts intended only for public relations imaging without real effect. Pa epal lang,” he said.

Setting aside the allegations of fraud as contained in the electoral protest of Marcos, Ramos reminded Robredo that those who voted for her did so as a balancing factor to Duterte and “ not as a ‘Yes VP’ so eager to join and please and be at the good graces of Duterte.”

“ Be true to this mandate as a ‘check and balance’ factor and stop your followers from begging for a position for you in the Cabinet,” he said.

Ramos concluded: “ So you see — this genuine role for you would mean you become the true leader of the opposition. And of course Duterte would be crazy to appoint you to a Cabinet position – like he needs it as a bullet hole in the head.”

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