Leni Robredo’s ‘sound of silence’

By Herbert Vego

AS cracks continue to blur the “unity” between President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and Vice Pres. Sara Duterte, we can’t help but wonder why the legitimate opposition remains voiceless. Not even the “defeated” presidential candidate, former Vice President Leni Robredo, has broken her silence.

Methinks she knows she was the true winner in that May 9, 2022 election. In fact, she never explicitly conceded to Marcos, and that’s because she could not sense logic in the outcome showing Marcos with 31 million votes against her 15 million.

How could that be when she had clobbered him in the 2016 vice-presidential race? We can think of nothing significant to have suddenly made Marcos a man of the masses.

To sum up my take on the matter, Leni knew that she had been electronically robbed of her win by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and Smartmatic, which is now the subject of a case filed before the Supreme Court by a group led by former Undersecretary Eliseo Rio of the  Department of Information and Communications Technology

Leni could have protested but opted to keep cool, believing in “destiny”. Remember, she had never even thought of running for vice-president — until the sudden death of her husband in a plane crash which made her believe in fate. Now, if she is not destined to occupy the presidency, there could be a good reason why.

She had said in a pre-election interview in Cebu City on March 3, 2022, “Mayroon talaga tayong destiny na ang obligasyon natin ay pagbutihin whatever is given to us.”

Knowing it would be futile to protest, she must have comforted herself with the thought that of more paramount importance to the nation is the end of six years of the oppressive Rodrigo Duterte presidency and the emergence of a “lesser evil” in the person of Bongbong Marcos.

However, with another Duterte unbelievably “elected” as vice-president with 32 million votes or a million higher than Marcos’ 31 million, there have been fears of “succession” in case of the President’s death or at the end of his sixth year in office in 2028 when Sara would run for the higher office.

Current events, alas, are unfolding unfavorably to Digong’s daughter with the denial by the House of her request for confidential funds — ₱500 million for her office as vice-president and ₱150 million as head of the Department of Education.

ACT party-list Rep. France Castro had questioned the release to her of ₱125 million in confidential funds in December 2022.

Sara called it “politically motivated,” probably a way to nip her presidential ambition in the bud. It is no secret that Speaker Martin Romualdez, a first cousin of Marcos, is also interested in running for president in 2028.

Former President Rodrigo Duterte, being Sara’s father, joined the fray to the extent of calling Congress “the most rotten institution” and threatening to kill Rep. France Castro in his radio-TV talk show “Para sa Masa”.

Ikaw France,” he said, “kayong mga komunista ang gusto kong patayin.”

But would killing Castro enable Inday Sara to level up?

Anyway, former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV recorded the broadcast and submitted it as a supplemental communication to the International Criminal Court (ICC), which is probing the alleged 36,000 extrajudicial killings done in Pres. Duterte’s time.

Did we hear Marcos saying, “Pasok, ICC”?

Not yet, but that is what the Dutertes fear most.



THE decision of a Bacolod City court (RTC Branch 42) dismissing a civil case questioning the plebiscite-approved joint venture agreement (JVA) between the Central Negros Electric Cooperative  (Ceneco) and Negros Electric Power Corp (NEPC) should be ground for petitioners themselves to heave a sigh of relief.

Judge Maria Lina Gonzaga’s ground for dismissal – “lack of jurisdiction” – would provide them a valid excuse or “graceful exit” to forget about elevating their case to the National Electrification Administration (NEA), which, to quote the judge, “is equipped with the proper legal and technical team to discuss the loopholes.”

The petitioning organizations – Negros Consumers Watch (NCW) and Convenors of Anti Ceneco JVA Coalition (ACJC) – must have realized by now the futility of their proposal to nullify the JVA in the absence of a viable alternative.

So far, only NEPC — made up of experienced hands from MORE Power of Iloilo City, including President/CEO Roel Z. Castro – is capable of rescuing the floundering Ceneco from irreversible bankruptcy. With losses averaging ₱20 million monthly and accumulated loans of ₱800 million, it could not go on till the expiration of its congressional franchise in 2030.

Our colleague Dolly Yasa is right. It would take nothing less than a congressional franchise for NEPC to save Bacolod and suburbs from groping in the dark.