VP Leni, “extraordinary housewife”

With bracing directness, Senator Imee Marcos called VP Leni Robredo an “extraordinary housewife”.  That was last October 27, when she was interviewed by the gentlemen anchors of “On the Spot”. They asked her to describe all the presidential aspirants. So, Imee said that Senator Bato de la Rosa is a BFF and model policeman; Senator Ping Lacson an eagle-eyed investigator, someone to be afraid of; Senator Manny Pacquiao, has the heart of a champion, and is the “idolo ng bayan”; Manila Mayor Isko Moreno is the “favorite basurero ng bayan”. She added that “politics is a lot like showbiz, but no Take 2.” And what about VP Leni, her brother’s political nemesis?

The very moment she painted VP Leni as an “extraordinary housewife”, Senator Imee was caught in the pull of a historical undertow, so she was quick to add— “never underestimate!” She has not forgotten that when her father called for snap elections in 1986, he was defeated by a vulnerable Corazon Aquino, “an ordinary housewife” whom they had offhandedly underestimated.

VP Leni Robredo was not amused by Senator Imee’s “insult laced with praise” which she felt was directed at all women who bear the heavy responsibility of taking care of their families.

Why did the framers of our 1987 Constitution not give the Vice President a more significant role? In the USA, the VP is the president of the Senate who can cast the decisive tie-breaking vote. Our VP is required to have the same qualifications as the President, for obvious reasons. They both have to be natural born citizens, registered voters, able to read and write, and residents of the Philippines for at least 10 years before said election. Both have to be at least 40 years of age on election day. Take note that there is no age limit, a nonagenarian can submit his/her certificate of candidacy and run for president.

The terms of office (6 years) and manner of removal are the same for both, although complications do arise when a coup d’etat interrupts a presidential term. No special duties are given to the VP except that he/she can be appointed by the President to the Cabinet, without need for confirmation, or to any other agency or office.

The Constitution states quite clearly that the Vice President is next in the line of succession which gives the impression that he/she is untethered by obligations and has nothing better to do than wait in the wings. That is probably why it is easy for her critics to say that VP Leni is a do-nothing. Programs of the OVP rarely make banner headlines nor go viral. Its achievements are never listed among those of the Executive Branch. I doubt if President Duterte has ever mentioned, even in passing, the accomplishments of the OVP in any of his State of the Nation speeches.

Despite the farrago of stabs, VP Leni has not lost stamina nor focus. The “extraordinary housewife” is always ready to assist in times of disaster, especially when typhoons like Rolly, Siony, Tonyo and Vaneco (Ulysses, category 4) submerge our valleys, towns and cities under Biblical floods. The VP’s Shared Services Facilities (SSF) can be depended upon to distribute food packs, beddings and potable water whenever volcanos erupt and earthquakes destroy.

The Ahon Laylayan Koalisyon is her flagship which has gained the confidence of thousands of other “extraordinary housewives” who live in the fringes of society, battling daily to bring food on the table, demanding healthcare and basic education for their children. VP Leni has gained the trust of private sector entities like chambers of commerce and industries and civil society organizations. Even the devolved offices of Department of Trade and Industry have become steadfast allies.

The example of Naga is a work plan worthy to be replicated all over the country. Farmers, there are becoming Agri-entrepreneurs. Through livelihood training, they have learned how to use food processing machines that convert excess produce into marketable products like cucumber chips and sweet chili sauce which buyers distribute to hotels, restaurants and retail outlets.  Small beginnings can put this country back on track.

The pink “Caravan of Hope” that took place on 23 October garnered such spontaneous support that motorcades mushroomed not only in Luzon but also in Visayas, Mindanao, and foreign countries where there are large communities of OFWs. As a result, Leni’s detractors are inundating social media with the vilest of fake news about her. Directly after the caravans, trolls accused VP Leni of distributing cash and candy bars so people would join her parade. They will continue spitting venom and vitriol, in a futile attempt to stop this extraordinary housewife from becoming our extraordinary President.