Tuesday, December 12, 2017
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At Large

A peso for Leni

Does anybody have P7.5 million lying around? That is the amount that Vice President Leni Robredo has to raise for the second tranche of the “service fee” to cover her part of the election case filed by defeated VP candidate Bongbong Marcos.

You don’t have to wonder where the former senator and “junior” of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos will source the huge amount needed for the protest he filed (your guess is as good as mine where the wealth his family retained is kept for safekeeping). Indeed, the P66 million that the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) is charging Marcos to pursue his complaint is small change considering the billions of dollars his family is alleged to have salted away from the years his father had absolute sway over national affairs (and coffers).

But before she sought—and won—the vice presidency, Robredo was “just” a congresswoman. And while her late husband Jesse had been a long-time mayor of their native Naga, and then interior secretary, he had built such a reputation for honesty and probity that any hint of corruption on his part was deemed absurd. And we must remember that even while she was already in Congress, Leni had such abstemious habits that she took public buses to go home to Naga and then return to Manila on weekends.

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So we have to ask: Where will Robredo find the P15.43 million she is required to turn over to the PET, especially now that the second tranche is due on July 14?

No wonder that in this country, only the very rich and powerful (and criminal) have the gumption to run for office, given the high cost of politics.

That’s why a group of women, all of whom believe in Robredo’s rightful claim to the vice presidency and who wish to prevent a Marcos from having such close proximity to the presidency, recently launched a drive to help the Vice President fight off the Marcos challenge.

Lawyer Purificacion Bernabe, speaking on behalf of the “Piso para sa Laban ni Leni” organizers, says that more than just raising funds for Leni’s counterprotest, the fund-raising project would also serve as an avenue for ordinary Filipinos “to stand together and protect their votes” which sent Robredo to the No. 2 post in the land.

The women behind the “Piso para sa Laban ni Leni” are all awardees of The Outstanding Women in the Nation’s Service (or TOWNS) and are asking the Supreme Court to allow them to take part in Robredo’s counterprotest. The women are led by Nina Lim-Yuson, founder of the Museo Pambata, and include former Human Rights commissioner and columnist Paulynn Paredes Sicam, singer Celeste Legaspi-Gallardo, former BCDA board member Zorayda Alonzo, former social welfare secretary Dinky Soliman, and Ateneo de Manila University Press director Karina Bolasco.

By latest count, the “Piso para sa Laban ni Leni” has raised over P400,000. If the PET gives the organizers the go-ahead, the money raised will go directly to the PET, but if the PET junks their appeal, the money will be donated to the Office of the Vice President’s Angat Buhay program. None of the money will pass through Leni’s hands.

Another controversy, in this country and at this time when controversies seem to come pouring in without letup, involves the recent resignation of three members of the executive committee of the coming Metro Manila Film Festival. The three are film academic Rolando Tolentino, documentary maker Kara Magsanoc-Alikpala, and multiawarded screenwriter Ricky Lee.

In a recent statement, the three said that when they were invited to sit in the Execom, they were “excited to maximize the gains of the MMFF 2016,” which was notable for the strong presence and performance of “indie” movies. But, they said, they decided to resign when they realized that the other members of the committee—including commercial producers—were “putting too much emphasis on commerce over art.” In other words, the committee seemed bent on returning the hegemony of “family-friendly” formulaic movies to the Festival, as seen from the list of the initial four approved movies. One step forward for the local film industry last year, and two steps back to execrable commercial products this year.

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TAGS: “Piso para sa Laban ni Leni”, Bongbong Marcos, Lawyer Purificacion Bernabe, Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), Vice President Leni Robredo
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