To 1Sambayan: Let Leni Robredo be the opposition standard-bearer
1Sambayan was an ideal initiative, but the environment in which it attempts to thrive is not an ideal one. Sure, the objectives are clear, but it has not lived up to its promise to form a united opposition coalition. It’s a gargantuan task, to begin with. 1Sambayan has conducted forums discussing the plight of different sectors, but it failed to touch the broader mass base that other candidates have tapped into.
To pursue the selection process without taking into consideration the changing landscape is blissful ignorance. It may also be too late in the game, as others have been mounting their campaigns way ahead of schedule.
But if we are to make do with what the coalition has started, there is one clear and attainable move: to urge and support Vice President Leni Robredo to run for president. The other nominees had declined to join 1Sambayan early on, so its strongest contender is Robredo. This only leaves the coalition the task of choosing the candidate for vice president.
Weeks ago, Robredo explained why she rejected Sen. Panfilo Lacson’s offer for a unification—which is a clear sign that she, while officially undecided, is leaning toward a presidential run. But for this to become a powerful movement, it must come from her own pronouncement, which should happen before the hype peaks during the filing of the certificates of candidacy.
Only the tandem of Lacson and Senate President Tito Sotto has expressly declared their candidacy at this time. The prospect of them withdrawing in favor of other candidates is unlikely.
If we are to have an alternative tandem, it has to have Leni Robredo in it. Others who have expressed their intent to run or are hinting at it have only begun to directly or indirectly criticize the President and his subordinates, when it is now easy to ride the public’s anger over the inept pandemic response. But where were they during the killing sprees of the drug wars? Where were their sharp rebukes when Sen. Leila de Lima was imprisoned? Where were they when the President was attacking every sector in society except his favorites—the military and the police? Where were they when Robredo was humiliated twice—first when she served in the Cabinet and second when she was appointed co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs, both ending up with the President booting her out?
These people were nowhere to be found, nor were their condemnations heard. But when it became apparent that the ship was sinking, and there was no way that the President would emerge from his parochial method of governance unscathed, they, one by one, have begun jumping ship, from directly countering the President to demanding accountability from his officials.
“Run, Leni, run” is not a call forced down our throats. It is a call for unity. It is a call for genuine openness to criticism. It is a call for change and an end to the regime that has plagued the nation since 2016. The call for Robredo to run is not a pledge of unwavering loyalty to Robredo herself, but to the principles on which she stands—a leader who listens, who is sensitive to the plight of the people, who is grounded and flexible.
Sure, it is a welcome development when previous allies or those we have not heard from are now mustering newfound courage to speak. As they say, better late than never. But if they are to present themselves as alternatives to the continuity of the Duterte regime, how come it’s only now that they are doing so, when Vice President Leni Robredo has been offering her brand of governance as an alternative from day one—sans the cuss words and macho posturing?
It is time. Si Leni dapat.
EDWARD JOSEPH H. MAGUINDAYAO
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