Robredo’s silence on 2022 plans not due to fear of trolls — spox
MANILA, Philippines — A spokesperson for Vice President Leni Robredo said that her silence on her political plans for the 2022 elections should not be misconstrued that she is afraid that she would be swarmed by attacks by trolls of the administration.
Atty Barry Gutierrez refuted claims of former Supreme Court justice Antonio Carpio that potential candidates like Robredo have been hesitant to publicize their plans for fear of the Duterte administration’s supposed army of trolls swarming them online.
Gutierrez noted that Carpio’s allusion seemed not applicable to Robredo as she had been on the receiving end of widespread attacks since the start of this administration.
“Well no, kahit naman mag-declare kami or hindi binabanatan na si VP Leni ‘di ba, parang tinataanong ‘yon na kapag nag-declare ka mauulanan ka. Eh grabe, limang taon na kaming nasa gitna ng bagyo eh,” he explained during an exclusive interview with INQUIRER.net last Thursday,
“Hindi na namin concern ‘yon sa totoo lang, hindi na concern ‘yong mabasa ka pa dahil talaga namang limang taon na kaming binabagyo di ba. So as far as the Vice President is concerned that’s not the consideration,” he added.
Gutierrez said that they have become so accustomed to trolls — a sad thing, he says — that they are no longer afraid of the dangers it may bring.
“Sanay na kami dyan, sa totoo lang. Malungkot mang sabihin, nasanay na kami doon sa paninira at sa trolls na walang tigil mula pa 2016 elections,” he said.
However, Gutierrez also noted that Carpio’s hunch may be true for other potential candidates as not one of those rumored to run have announced their plans — except for former senator Antonio Trillanes whose statements were also conditional.
Carpio said that most of the candidates would probably announce their next move around September, or one month before the filing of certificates of candidacy — which also coincides with the self-imposed deadline by Robredo.
“Although now that you point it out, wala pa namang nagdi-deklara eh. Di ba? Wala pa namang openly nagsasabi — except si Senator Trillanes yata, I think he said na kung hindi tatakbo si VP Leni, willing ako, pero even that is conditional,” he said.
“Wala pang gano’n eh, not even Mayor (Sara) Duterte, not even Mayor Isko (Moreno), not even Senator (Manny) Pacquiao, and any of the other names na fino-float, busy pa or lahat ‘ang focus ko muna ay trabaho’. Baka totoo, but in our case, I can tell you frankly, hindi ‘yon consideration,” he added.
Instead, Robredo appears to be more concerned about what role would suit her best for the 2022 elections, especially since she has advocated for a single candidate for the opposition.
“Ang consideration talaga kay VP Leni, where will I be best of service? Ano talaga ‘yong expectation sa akin dito na pinaka-makakatulong ako, will it be as a candidate? Will it be as somebody who will support another candidate?” he said.
“Will it be somebody who will become a voice, of moral authority? Di ba, parang gano’n. That’s something I am sure she is weighing,” he added.
But as far as doing talks with other possible candidates, including those mentioned by the 1Sambayan coalition that aims to unify the opposition, none has happened according to Gutierrez.
These answers about Robredo’s possible plans again highlights the possibility that the Vice President will not run in the 2022 polls, as some have claimed.
A few months ago, there were assertions that Robredo is already making preparations for her gubernatorial bid in Camarines Sur. This was the main reason why Trillanes said that if Robredo does not run, he is asking the 1Sambayan to consider him as a primary candidate.
A local party actually pledged their support in case Robredo returns to local politics: in a manifesto posted by former Camarines Sur 1st District Rep. Rolando Andaya in his Facebook account, the Anduyog party said they would support Robredo if she chooses to vie for the gubernatorial spot.
Other Camarines Sur politicians posted the same manifesto in their respective social media accounts.
But Gutierrez eventually clarified that Robredo remains open to vying for the presidency.
Another important consideration, Gutierrez admitted, is the opinion of Robredo’s three daughters and other people close to her. While he has not ascertained if the Vice President has already talked to her children about the possibility of running, he believes it plays a huge role as Robredo’s family has been dragged into issues they are not concerned.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s a consideration because if you remember, in 2015, when she was first being asked to run as vice president, isa talaga sa mga kinausap niya’ng masisinsinan ‘yong kanyang mga anak, ‘yong kanyang pamilya. Sa akin I think we can all relate to that,” Gutierrez said.
“Mahirap ‘yong pinagdaanan nila, they lost their father, nawala si (former Interior) Sec. Jes (Robredo), that was not an easy thing for the family to go through. And then in a way, at a time when you’re still processing that family tragedy, ‘di ba your mom is being asked to take on a very public role,” he added.
In 2015, Robredo’s daughters Aika, Tricia, and Jillian said that their mother’s possible vice presidential bid is something big that they don’t want to happen.
Fast forward to 2021, the amount of hate messages, gossips, and even harassment that Robredo’s daughters have gone through may already be enough to make her think twice about stepping into a larger role within the government.
“Especially now, feeling ko, na grabe ‘yong paninira, and the family has not been spared. None of the daughters of VP Leni has been spared, from ‘yong attacks online, ‘yong paninira, parang ‘yong kanilang personal na achievements parang sinusubukang siraan,” Gutierrez said.
“They have received rape threats, threats na sasaktan sila or — ano eh, sa akin, sinong tao ang gusto ‘yon di ba. And ako I expect if she does say na sige tatakbo akong presidente, during the campaign we’re going to experience another vicious cycle ng paninira, fake news, at panglalait online,” he added.
Just this November 2020, the Vice President warned the public about a fake social media account that has been imitating one of her daughters by copying her profile picture and cover photo. The account was reported to be spreading hate messages to the younger Robredo’s acquaintances.
Gutierrez said that he perfectly understands why Robredo is having a hard time deciding — and that the public should understand it too as her family would be unwillingly dragged into multiple issues again.
“She is taking it very seriously and giving it the appropriate amount of thought and reflection. And I think that you know, we should give her the time, the space, and the respect to make her decision,” he said.
“And sinabi naman niya eh, ‘wag kayong mag-alala, sasabihin ko desisyon ko, I will come to a decision and when I do come to a decision ako mismo magsasabi,” he added.