Robredo: I’m ready to be the voice of opposition
MANILA — The unifying force, the unifying voice.
This was how Vice President Leni Robredo described herself as an opposition leader to the highly popular administration— getting together the voices of dissent to compel President Duterte himself to listen to the worries over a number of his policies.
“I think there’s not one person bringing all of us together and so I think that would be who I want to be in the next few days: to be the unifying voice of all those who have expressed either disgust or opposition to the policies of this administration,” Robredo said at the Meet the Inquirer Multimedia (MIM) forum on Thursday
After Robredo resigned as housing secretary on Monday, both her supporters and analysts have said her inevitable next role is to become the opposition catalyst.
However, they also wondered if she would embrace the designation, as Robredo has always shown reluctance in taking on her political roles until the weight of the task has become too important to ignore.
Case in point: her last minute congressional bid in Naga in 2013 and running for vice president this year.
But at the Inquirer on Thursday, Robredo was confident even as she was unassuming when she finally embraced the role to be the opposition leader.
“I think it is very important that I will be very vocal in the issues that I feel so passionate about and talk to more people who feel the same,” she
The vice president has observed that people have been expressing their anger but are at a loss due to the absence of a leader.
“I think the challenge now is how do we encourage people to come out and not to be afraid to voice their opposition. To me, it is important that I show that I’m not afraid. It is important to me that for the things I truly believe in, it is worth all the risk. It is worth the sacrifice that we are taking,” Robredo said.
The vice president is not discounting the possibility that she might join the people in the streets for rallies as they voice their dissent.
But what is more important to her is to send the message to Mr. Duterte why she and the people are opposing some of his policies.
Among them, the burial of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, the re-imposition of capital punishment, the lowering of the age of criminal liability, and the bloody war against illegal drugs where the death toll has climbed to nearly 6,000 in less than five months.
Robredo said that resigning her Cabinet post, difficult as it might be for her, has given her “more elbow room” to be the unifying force among the oppositionists to Mr. Duterte’s draconian policies.
“I really want to pursue [being a unifying force] because now there are many opposing but it seems all the voices opposing [certain policies] are discordant. It really needs a unified stand for the President to listen to us,” Robredo said.
She maintained that President Duterte has the capacity to listen and to consider voices of dissent.
“Yes, the President listens. We have seen the President change his mind so many times already and that is both a good and a bad thing in the sense, I think, that when he realizes how important some things are to us, he could change his mind. And I think we should capitalize on that. Let us make him hear, let us show him how much we feel about a particular subject so that he would listen to us,” Robredo said.
Robredo said that the hasty approval of the bill for the re-imposition of capital punishment at the House Committee on Justice happened “because there was no noisy opposition [to the bill].”
“I recognize the fact that we need to change that now,” she said.
Robredo stressed the need “to step up in being vigilant” given the swift turn of events in the country these days.
“Everyday, something is happening,” she said.
One example the Vice President gave was the President’s dismissal of a report by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) that said Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa, Sr. was murdered by policemen.
“The day the investigation report came out, the President gave a statement that seemed to be relegating also the report in the background and assuring those cops that they would be beyond the reach of the law,” Robredo said.
“It is scary because what does that imply? We don’t have rule of law?” Robredo said.
The vice president clearly wants to be a constructive oppositionist, saying that she would remain supportive of policies of the Duterte administration that she feels are for the benefit and interest of the people despite having drawn the line on a number of issues.
Robredo remains supportive of the passage of a Freedom of Information law and ending contractualization.
Robredo emphasized that being in the opposition “is not equivalent to ousting the President” because taking Mr. Duterte out of office “is not the
answer” to the country’s problems.
“If you ask me, I have no dreams of becoming President. I think if we would have another upheaval, our situation would only become worse. What we only want is [for the President] to listen to us. What we want is for him to recognize why we don’t like certain [policies]. Dissent should not be equated to ouster,” Robredo said. SFM
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