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Suspicious timing

opinion / Columnists
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Suspicious timing

Six weeks after a group of women launched the “Piso para sa Laban ni Leni,” which was meant to raise funds for the second tranche of the filing fee to counter the election protest against Vice President Leni Robredo, the campaign has been able to raise P6.5 million. This is less than P1 million short of the needed P7.4 million.

But the other day, the Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), rejected the group’s petition to intervene by remitting the amount directly to the body.

The women said they are fighting back. After all, the campaign was not just about helping Robredo fend off the protest filed by defeated vice-presidential candidate Bongbong Marcos. It was also about ordinary citizens defending and asserting their right to protect their votes.

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“We cannot just accept the decision of the PET and ignore the passion with which the public joined this crusade. For this reason, we are availing [ourselves] of the remedies granted by law and will be filing a motion for reconsideration within the period allowed,” said the group’s legal counsel, Pingki Bernabe.

The fund-raising campaign drew the support of 25,000 Filipinos here and abroad who believe in the Veep’s mission. The organizers said they were “overwhelmed” by this show of support, including contributions ranging from P1 to P10,000 to P100,000 to P1 million “from people from all walks of life—tricycle drivers, market vendors, students, OFWs, housewives, NGO workers, business executives, and others.”

Indeed, the “story” is not just about the money that was raised, certainly a paltry sum compared to the P66 million plus that Marcos paid without apparent difficulty.

Bigger than the money involved are the stories of the folks who in many instances scraped an amount together to do their bit to help Robredo.

There is Adrienne, who, though still recovering from open heart surgery, donated a modest amount “to protect my vote,” she said. Sofia queued for over an hour at a branch of Banco de Oro just to deposit her donation. A tricycle driver named Castelo gave P100 for the same cause, while a waiter, spotting a plastic bottle on the table labeled “Piso para sa Laban ni Leni,” took the P20 tip left him and dropped it into the bottle. Bong, who lives in a coastal area, rode a banca to get to the mainland and deposit his donation through G-Cash.

Even the millennials jumped into the campaign. Tina sent in her donation which, she said, were her savings for a planned vacation. And the family of Magellynn pooled together P5,000 to join the cause.

Other donors may have faced less difficulty in raising the money. But all of these Filipinos were motivated by the same zeal: to see that their vote for vice president was not nullified or defeated by a billionaire who felt entitled to the office.

Organizers of the “Piso para sa Laban ni Leni” say they will stop accepting contributions by Monday, Aug. 14, “to give leeway to contributions which may still be in transit.” Should they lose their appeal, they say, the money will be turned over to “Angat Buhay,” the Vice President’s social amelioration program.

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Robredo’s legal adviser Barry Gutierrez said they are already preparing to raise the amount themselves. “VP Leni won clearly, convincingly, and legitimately, and will avail [herself] of all legal remedies to defend the mandate she received from our people,” Gutierrez added. He thanked the “Piso” organizers for their independent initiative “for which we are deeply grateful.”

At this point in time almost all “eyeballs” are on the dispute between Commission on Elections Chair Andy Bautista and his estranged wife Patricia. In the heated exchange of accusations and counterclaims, including imputations of hidden wealth, an extramarital affair and the existence of a “third eye,” the name of Bongbong Marcos has cropped up, mainly because Ms Bautista’s lawyer is a good friend of the defeated vice-presidential candidate. Is the marital spat just a conflict between husband and wife? Or are Robredo, the Comelec and the conduct of the 2016 elections the ultimate targets? The timing is suspicious indeed.

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TAGS: “Piso para sa Laban ni Leni”, Bongbong Marcos, Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), Protest
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