By DEAN MEL STA. MARIA
Supporting Vice President Leni Robredo means not merely safeguarding an individual’s interest, but making sure that our democratic institutions stand strong againstundue attacks. You might not believe this but supporting the Vice President does not even mean trying to oust President Duterte. On the contrary, a stable and secure vice presidency strengthens the presidency.
Only in the Philippines can one find a woman-vice president under attack by her own government.
Criminal charges have been filed by the Philippine National Police (PNP) Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) for not only one crime but multiple crimes, namely: Sedition, inciting to sedition, cyber-libel, libel, estafa, harboring a criminal and obstruction of justice on the basis of a lone witness’ baseless sworn statement. A perusal of the affidavit shows no allegation of any act attributable to the vice president showing any violation of law. The filing of the case makes one wonder how CIDG, a law-enforcement agency supposed to be adept in investigation and knowledgeable in appreciating evidence, could even entertain such a prevaricating witness and his accusations.
The CIDG is even represented by some lawyers of the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) headed by a Duterte appointee. This is unprecedented.
Again, given the flimsiness of the charge, one wonders how Solicitor Calida and some of the OSG’s lawyers could have decided to pursue the case. The OSG’s mandate is not solely to prosecute. It is also tasked to inform the court or any government agency of the weakness of a case, if there is any case at all, and seek its dismissal. That way, the OSG saves innocent persons from the hardships of going through a frivolous criminal proceeding and the country from a useless litigation at the expense of taxpayers’ money. Truly, these charges against Vice President Robredo are cases which the government can do without.
And then we have the election protest lodged with the Presidential Electoral Tribunal composed of Supreme Court Justices, mostly appointed by President Duterte. Many people wonder why the case is still continuing despite the increase in Vice President Robredo’s lead after the vote-recount in selected regions chosen by Ferdinand Bongbong
Marcos. That result should have been an immediate rebuke against his protest. Was not the preliminary counting precisely done to determine whether or not Vice President Robredo’s lead will be reversed to justify the continuation or non-continuation of the protest? If the protester again is allowed to select two or three new regions for recount and if the Vice President again wins, will a majority of the Supreme Court justices again order a recount of some more selected regions? If that is the point, is this not prematurely siding with the protester? When will Vice President win this case if this system continues?
Now, after Vice President Robredo’s comment on the failure of the administration’s drug-war, President Duterte dared her to take over the government for six months without interference from him. The Vice President assumes the office of the President only when the latter dies, resigns, is incapacitated or removed from office. It was correct for vice president Robredo to ignore the suggestion of the President, which, if done, may even be tantamount
to usurpation of authority on her part.
If President Duterte allows others to take over the presidential functions on the basis of a dare or a challenge, this will constitute a palpable violation of the Constitution and a betrayal of the public trust. Even in the face of heavy riticism, the President cannot shirk from his responsibilities or make proposals tantamount to evasion of duties or to a temporary abdication of power. Either he performs or he resigns. There is no middle ground.
Nothwithstanding all these assaults on her ,Vice President Leni Robredo remains unagitated. She focuses on her job even with numerous constraints, conscious that what is at stake is not only who she is but, more fundamentally, what she represents – a critical office of the Vice President indispensable in a democracy. President Duterte may well be advised that only in considering opposing views including those of Vice President Robredo can rational analyses of the issues be made. And when intelligent decisions are reached, the Office of the President is benefited and strengthened.
If only for this reason, we all have to support Vice President Leni Robredo for her role in our country. She must continue to make her position known.