By Antonio Contreras
There is a time when one has to say enough is enough. And for me, this is that time.
At the outset, and as a taxpayer, more so in my role as a political analyst, I have the right to call to task every politician or holder of public office and anyone who aspires to hold elective positions and hold them accountable. While I welcome any rebuttal or criticism of the arguments and points I make because this is a free country and I respect free speech rights, I cannot tolerate slander and libel.
I have always made sure that my social media posts, and my columns, are crafted in such a way that they are libel-free.
Unfortunately, those who defend their political patrons, many of whom they have elevated to demigod status to whom they pledge blind allegiance, are comfortable with resorting to assassinating my character instead of responding to the points I make. When I point to the fact that a presidential candidate has violated rules or had at the very least made others violate it on her behalf, they responded by letting loose unprintable epithets and adjectives against me.
And while this is not the monopoly of any political color, considering that I received different doses of vitriol from Marcos loyalists and diehard Duterte supporters, the most venomous and malicious have come from the followers of Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo. While she now wears pink to denote what she labels as a radical form of love, whatever that means, and has advised her social media followers to always be calm and positive, it is from her camp that the most verbally violent libelous attacks on my character and person have emanated.
This one is in connection with my cousin who is now facing a criminal case, and who has been dismissed and disbarred by the Supreme Court. At the outset, while his case has already been featured in the news, there is a deliberate attempt to blatantly mislead by suggesting that the cause of his disbarment and dismissal from his judgeship was an alleged rape case. On the contrary, that case has not been adjudicated yet considering that my cousin is now at large, and his dismissal was because of his abandonment of his role as judge.
I am not going to argue the merits of my cousin’s case, or even defend him from the charges and the claim made by many that flight is evidence of guilt. I would leave that for the courts to determine.
But what I cannot tolerate is when Robredo supporters gleefully parade my image in social media and attach it to the case by alleging that it is the main reason why I am critical of Robredo. They are alleging that I am doing so because Robredo has refused to intervene in my cousin’s case and instead has sided with the alleged rape victim. Some even paint me as a coddler of a criminal, and thus malign my integrity as a law-abiding citizen.
This is not the first time that these charges have surfaced. This is just a rehash of 2016 all over again, when a pro-Robredo Facebook page named Silent No More first peddled the same lie. At the time, I was very much involved in the revelations about anomalous trends in the vice-presidential race. In fact, the Robredo supporters are sharing the same meme which Silent No More peddled five years ago.
These charges against me are patently false and malicious. I had nothing to do with my cousin’s case. In fact, we were not even close. Our sides of the family even had a gap because of the strained relationship between our fathers. The last time I saw him was when I was still in high school. I do not even know what he looks like now. I lost contact with him and his siblings when I moved to Laguna, first for my studies, and later for work and when I started my own family. It was only in 2016 when Silent No More peddled the lie of connecting me to his case that I learned of his legal problems.
While it is true that my side of the family had a dispute with the Robredos, it was not on this issue but on something else that happened a long time ago, which the Robredo supporters conveniently leave out, perhaps because it doesn’t reflect well on her. I will not divulge the details of this dispute since it involves persons who may be unduly smeared even if they aren’t at fault.
The Robredo supporters, in actively connecting me to my cousin’s legal troubles, have poisoned the well in their attempt to take me down and silence me, as a punishment for my criticisms of their principal. They do not care about knowing the truth as long as they exact vengeance on someone like me who would dare call out their patron’s lies and inauthenticity. They even went to the extent of drawing out into the open the private pains of a family torn by a legal case I have nothing to do with, and revel in repeatedly publishing it, if only to satisfy their appetite for hurting me.
I am a person who can tolerate mature, rational criticism. As one who dwells in the world of critical political analysis, I am quite familiar with the nature of the field. But what I cannot tolerate are those who attack not critical ideas but are fixated on savaging the persons who bear them. Instead of deploying reason, they unleash malice.
This is not the radical love which Robredo tries so hard to construct. This is nothing but pure and unadulterated libel. And in the political bubble inhabited by Robredo fanatics, people who are portraits of contradiction in wearing the color of love while they propagate hatred, pink has become the color of libel.
READ: Robredo’s divisive politics https://www.manilatimes.net/2021/10/19/opinion/columns/robredos-divisive-politics/1818912