Secure VP Leni, end VAW now
END VAW NOW! is the worldwide call that started yesterday to last until Dec. 10, Human Rights Day, but some women’s groups in the Philippines are extending the consciousness-raising until Dec. 12. VAW means violence against women. Some groups, religious sisters among them, have bannered the call on their Facebook pages. A kick-off liturgy was initiated by the Religious of the Good Shepherd.The call is timely indeed. No less than Vice President Leni Robredo has been the target of President Duterte’s misplaced ire that came with a threat of violence. It does not matter if it was said literally or figuratively. It was, in fact, a direct one.
“Waswasin kita nang husto,” was among the things the President said against the VP at his press briefing on Nov. 17. His opening spiel consisted of an unseemly tirade that lasted for some 20 minutes. Waswasin is an onomatopoeic Visayan word that suggests hitting without let-up. It was a barefaced threat by no less than the Commander in Chief against no less than the Vice President of the Philippines, that is, if she so much as thought of running for the presidency. His warning was loud and clear, his threat real.
Pundits and punsters called the presidential tantrum a “meltdown” that was worrisome enough to be called out but silly and infantile worthy of ridicule. The President overdid it and what a spectacle he made of himself.
Why, simply because the VP hit the ground running in the wake of Supertyphoons “Rolly” and “Ulysses”? She promptly responded to calls and brought relief goods (and she continues to do so as of this writing) to typhoon-stricken areas leveled to the ground or submerged in what weather experts call a once-in-a-hundred-years flooding. In short, the VP beat the President to it without meaning to. But the President begrudged her efforts.
Of course, the #NasaanAngPangulo hashtag was trending and caricatures,
memes, and photos of the President sleeping soundly under a mosquito net circulated in social media. Irked, the President explained belatedly that he was at the Asean summit. But why hit at the VP who was at work? She is young, lovely, energetic, compassionate. And so the President resorted to slut-shaming. As in “Where were you last night?” as if to suggest the VP was fornicating. Foul!
The VP was herself the victim of lies fed to the President by his subalterns — that she instigated the #NasaanAngPangulo question. And that she took off on a military plane. Red-faced, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana was man enough and apologized to the VP, while presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo could not quite bring himself to do the same in a manly, straightforward manner.
But the VP emphasized even to those who support her that coming to the aid of the countless homeless, hungry, and sick was not a race. If you ask me, it was the President who felt he was being seen as lagging behind in responding, prompting some netizens to say, “E, huli ka naman talaga” or “Nakatulog sa pansitan.” Meaning he fell behind or was caught sleeping in the noodle house. The latter used to refer to news reporters who got scooped, but now it is used to refer to laggards.
Now, on the violence issue. A presidential threat is a threat is a threat. Shouldn’t the Office of the Vice President put in place stricter security measures? There is the constant threat of being infected by the COVID-19 virus while she goes into crowded evacuation centers. But just as real is the threat of bodily harm that can come like a sudden bolt from the dark. Wayward sociopathic elements with isang bala ka lang mentality, inspired by the President’s misplaced wrath, might like to play villain in order to ingratiate themselves with the powers-that-be.
Who knows, there might be real human threats already lurking in the dark assigned to put the VP out of the way. But the VP will surely nix an impenetrable cordon sanitaire around her. No way, she might say.
May vigilance and prayer keep VP Leni safe from all harm. May the President realize that she is not the enemy. The enemy is lust for power.
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