Leni Robredo, just follow your heart
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2012-09-05

Like many Filipinos, I’ve taken a great liking to lawyer and mother, Leni Robredo. Seeing Leni Robredo during the television coverage of the wake and funeral of the late DILG Secretary, Jesse Robredo, reminded me of the stability at home that Cory Aquino provided while our national hero Ninoy sallied forth to fight the evil dragons plaguing our country.

Like Cory, Leni projected to us the aura of a genuine person — that what you see is what you get, and many of us liked what we saw. Seeing Leni, we were reminded of the old adage that behind every great man is an even greater woman. I must admit that I neither know Leni Robredo nor have even met her. On two occasions, I had a phone conversation with Jesse Robredo and that was it in terms of personal contact.

Like Cory, Leni Robredo is now being pushed by some administration allies to run for public office. The 2013 senatorial election was specifically mentioned. There is reason however to doubt their real intentions — whether they’re seeking what’s best for Leni and the memory of her late husband Jesse, or they’re simply seeking to increase their chances of winning in the 2013 senatorial elections.

During the funeral rites in Naga City, Leni was asked about her plans to heed the call to run for senator. I liked what she answered — that her priority is to take care of her family. The way she answered, she somehow transmitted to a veteran political watcher like me that she knew how these things happen in politics, how the national ‘flavor of the month’ is quickly seized by political groups in order to improve their chances of winning. Their agenda is neither the promotion of Jesse Robredo’s legacy nor what’s best for Jesse’s widow. It’s all about winning. 

A well-meaning friend, a self-made billionaire, was so impressed by the Leni Robredo that he saw on television and asked me to arrange a meeting with Leni so that we can find a way to launch and help her political career. My friend was so impressed by Leni that he was already thinking of the 2016 presidential election, not just the 2013 senate race.

I refused to do it and not just because I really do not know Leni Robredo. I told my friend that what he’s thinking — that Leni could be the third installment of the Cory 1986 and Noy 2010 political phenomena — isn’t similar to the political conditions that created the 1986 and 2010 phenomena.

The 1986 Cory phenomenon and the 2010 Noy phenomenon would not have been possible if not for a widely perceived evil that was ruling the land. The abuses and mismanagement of the Marcos regime and the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) regime polarized the political battle into one of good versus evil, democracy versus dictatorship in 1986 and one of integrity, transparency and democratic ideals versus perceived traditional politicians that cannot promise a positive change from the GMA brand of extremely bad governance. There are no such compelling reasons to fuel a Leni Robredo political phenomenon.

On the contrary, we are enjoying a very good leadership with our current president, President Noy Aquino (P-Noy). P-Noy has reversed the downward spiral of our economy, restored people’s trust in government, improved the delivery of services and up to the 26th month of his presidency there has been no scandal to tarnish his good name. Sans the compelling reasons that created the 1986 and 2010 political phenomena, a Leni Robredo political plunge will be no different from a rocket that was fired into space without fuel. It will only sputter and eventually crash.

Besides, if availability for public service is the objective, it may be best for Leni Robredo to stay away from the company of politicians until such time when she feels that there is a real need for her or a role that only she could fill. Nothing will stop her from promoting the ideals of her late husband while remaining a simple citizen without the benefit of public office. Tony Meloto of Gawad Kalinga, another Ramon Magsaysay awardee, has accomplished so much without holding a public office.
In fact, the people’s trust will be enhanced if she does it this way. Done this way, she will be perceived as a missionary. Operating within the political sphere and its dynamics, she runs the risk of being perceived as tainted by the lust for more power and privilege that’s associated with traditional politicians.

My father taught me one lesson in life that I never forgot — that great is the man who can wear a crown but greater still is the man who can refuse the ruler’s crown, power and privileges. I see Leni Robredo as not just a great woman — but also a person that’s capable of even more greatness, the person who can refuse the crown.

Leni, heed not the seduction of the serpent but just follow your heart. You’re in the Eden of all the goodwill that Jesse has left behind. Don’t let the glib serpent talk you into leaving Eden.

* * *

Shakespeare: “Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.”

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