Quite suddenly, there’s hope in the air—and nothing exactly occasioned by Christmas. It has been inspired by Vice President Leni Robredo’s acceptance of Duterte’s challenge to co-chair the war on drugs.
Strangely enough, the offer itself had been regarded with suspicion, like the proverbial Trojan horse. Her staunchest allies, in fact, had smelled a trap and warned her. Supporters in general had been distrustful.
But, as soon as Leni accepted the job, there was a palpable shift of mood among them, befitting the season of love and giving. Many feel enthused and revived, to the point of expressing eagerness to be part of any affirmative action. Friends, militant and fence-sitters alike, have been texting me, “What can we do to help Leni?”
Indeed, it’s the first positive development in a long while; only days before, hopelessness and dread were in the air. Traffic and high prices were threatening to dampen the normal spirit of the season. How could all that change, just with Leni’s acceptance?
From the very beginning, I felt there was something special about Leni. My husband recognized it immediately, even before she ran for Vice President, convinced she had “good instincts.” I’ve heard him telling her that precisely a few times.
Her sudden entrance into the world of politics, upon her husband’s plane-crash death, struck me as part of an all too familiar plot: she’s not just another widow in a critical time in our history, Cory Aquino being the only other.
God seems to show a soft spot for widows, and I’ve seen this in less public cases involving widowed friends. I swear they have had some kind of special protection.
But sometimes God produces big miracles starring widows beyond our imagination, like Edsa 1. I have no idea how the current plot will play out— who does?—but it does give me a feeling of something especially good.
Many of us seem convinced only a miracle could help us, as we feel we have dug ourselves into a hole too deep, and getting deeper yet, for anything less than that to redeem us. Until Leni actually did it, hers was an impossible victory in the last national election.
Leni is cool and smart. She believes the presidency, as much as everything in life, is a matter of destiny. That’s why she doesn’t covet it, doesn’t scheme or campaign for it.
She focuses on her job as Vice President, the position in which for now destiny has put her. She has been thus making a difference in the lives of the poor, citizens on the fringes of society, for no other reason than destined duty.
Unfortunately for those who do not believe in destiny—like Bongbong Marcos, the dictator’s son she beat in the election—ambition gets the better of them, persisting and forcing himself against the will of the universe.
Typical macho moves
Much like the snap election Ferdinand Marcos atypically agreed to, Duterte, reacting to Leni’s criticism of his drug war, cockily offered her a Cabinet position as co-chair of the war on drugs. Both were typical macho moves. As we now know, Marcos, himself Duterte’s professed idol, underestimated Cory and the force of destiny behind her.
Duterte may have a similar problem. He appears lost as to how to stop Leni from succeeding. He has given her a chance to shine, surely without meaning to, and all she has to be is her natural herself, courageous, intelligent, and, I must say, refreshingly presidential.
The international community has welcomed her with assurances of support and cooperation; foreign investors, otherwise holding back, are taken with a Robredo leadership.
Someone on Facebook has remarked, “Na-Leni si Duterte!” If Duterte turned our world upside down, she seems turning it back, right side up. She is the one good apple that doesn’t belong in the bushel—no personal agenda, no history of corruption, no personal connection to the President. If one rotten apple could ruin the whole pack, could not the reverse work?
The head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines happens to come from the President’s native Davao City himself, and until now, had not been vocal against Duterte’s handling of the war on drugs, among other things. In a priestly turnaround, he seems preparing the stage for a miracle: he has asked for prayers, as he himself promised to pray for Leni. Instantly provoked, those threatened by prayers have been attacking him.
Could Leni Robredo’s destiny be the miracle we are waiting for?