It’s bad enough that the validity of her installation to office is still being disputed in the Supreme Court sitting as a presidential electoral tribunal. What’s worse is that she makes pretentious political statements which everybody knows is plain and simple political double talk.
Weeks ago, alleged Vice President Leni Robredo announced to the news media that she has no desire to be president, and that she is too busy with her work as vice president to be thinking of the next elections. Her announcement came after a number of high profile politicians, visibly identified with the discredited Liberal Party (LP), were making final arrangements for their admission to the administration party, the PDP-Laban. As expected, the political discussion included potential candidates for the presidency in May 2022.
By publicly declaring that she does not desire to be president, Robredo probably thinks the Filipinos can be easily fooled—an assumption most likely triggered by her being surrounded by her sycophants for so long a period. Her statement also indicates her utter lack of political maturity to warrant her becoming President of the Philippines.
The vice president is the constitutionally mandated successor to the president, should the presidency be vacated by the president’s death, resignation, removal from office, or permanent disability. In other words, there is no denying that the vice president is also some kind of “secondary candidate” for the presidency.
Thus, if Robredo really has no desire to be president, it was silly and illogical for her to have sought the vice presidency in May 2016. Running for vice president and denying having any interest in the presidency is the height of hypocrisy.
Truth to tell, the political events in the months prior to the May 2016 national elections indubitably show that Robredo already had a moist eye for very high public office. It will be recalled that when the overbearing LP was searching for a vice presidential candidate to run with LP standard bearer Mar Roxas, the party’s first choice for veep was Senator Grace Poe. When Poe decided to exploit her popularity and run for president, the LP offered the VP post to Robredo, who readily accepted the invitation despite her obvious lack of sufficient political experience and savvy for very high public office. Back then, Robredo’s political service record was a brief, lackluster stint in the House of Representatives.
In the bygone era after World War II and before the martial law years, candidates for vice president personally saw to it that they had enough political experience in elective or appointive public office before they even filed their respective candidacies. Apparently, the LP no longer had that noble tradition in mind when the party settled for Robredo.
Thus, if Robredo is not really interested in the presidency as she claims, the surrounding circumstances clearly indicate that it was illogical for her to run for vice president in the first place—unless, of course, Robredo considers very high public office as a game or a diversion.
Sadly, if Robredo cannot even be truthful about her desire to become president, she probably can’t be expected to be truthful about anything should she become president by compulsory legal succession. Good heavens!
Philippine political history reveals that vice presidents have always considered becoming the president, by reason of their proximity to the highest office in the land.
It will be recalled that when Commonwealth President Manuel L. Quezon and Vice President Sergio Osmeña were in exile in Washington, D.C. during World War II, Quezon’s term of office expired and, by virtue of the law then in force, it was Osmeña’s turn to be president.
When Osmeña asked Quezon to yield the presidency to him, an angry Quezon refused. Sensing that Quezon was terminally ill with tuberculosis, Osmeña gave way, prompting the United States Congress to amend the law on succession and thus accommodate an extension of Quezon’s stay in office. Although Osmeña was magnanimous and accommodating, the historical record clearly shows that he had his eyes on the presidency.
Fernando Lopez, who was vice president during the administration of President Elpidio Quirino, did not seek the presidency immediately after serving as vice president, but he made an unsuccessful attempt to get the Nacionalista Party to field him as their presidential candidate in 1965. Lopez lost his bid to then Senator Ferdinand Marcos, but he became Marcos’ running mate that year.
After holding office as vice president, Diosdado Macapagal ran for president in 1961. Joseph Estrada did the same in 1998.
In 2000, then vice president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo eagerly took her oath as acting President after President Estrada vacated Malacañang without resigning the presidency. Later on, it was reported that her allies in the Supreme Court dispensed with the word “acting” in her oath.
Vice presidents Salvador Laurel and Jejomar Binay made unsuccessful bids for the presidency in 1992 and 2016, respectively.
Arroyo’s appointed vice president, Teofisto Guingona Jr., did not run for president in 2004 due to advance age and the absence of a political campaign machinery to back him up.
Noli de Castro, Arroyo’s elected vice president, did not seek the presidency in 2010 because of his very close association with Arroyo, who was involved in and even publicly apologized for the “Hello Garci” scandal involving election fraud attributed to her 2004 presidential campaign.
It will be remembered that in 2002, Arroyo announced that she will not run for president in 2004. As history reveals, she changed her mind.
Evidently, Robredo’s superficial denial of having any interest in the presidency betrays her lack of awareness of the political history of the Philippines, a deficiency that may have dire consequences for the nation.
Robredo’s other excuse —that she is too busy with her work—is hogwash. The sole job of the vice president is to wait for the president to vacate the presidency. How a job like that can make Robredo too busy with her work is baffling, if not highly suspicious.