Thu. May 26th, 2022

Vice President Maria Leonor Robredo vowed to propagate and nurture a radical form of love to propel and energize her campaign. It looks like what she needs is a radical reboot.

I’ve said it before, and I am going to say it again. The downfall of the Robredo campaign is the arrogant elitism among many of her supporters.

The reality of the electoral landscape and its associated electoral math for Robredo is daunting. She faces a principal adversary in the person of former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. who is now the survey leader and who seems to defy gravity and Teflon-like as he is able to deflect all dirt and attacks that are thrown at him.

And yet, her campaign appears to be either in disarray, without direction, or simply in the wrong hands.

The problem with the Robredo campaign is that it wants to ride on the ethos of a social movement, and would primarily rest on the social activism of volunteers who are unpaid, but who also lack accountability and discipline.

What further aggravates this is the fact that ideally, social movements require an ideology, or an overarching narrative, which even the group contracted by the Robredo campaign has admitted to be lacking.

If there is one dominant and unifying theme, it would be this deep dislike of the Marcoses and Dutertes.

And this is the heaviest albatross that weighs down the Robredo campaign. It is governed by the deep-seated urge to take down the Marcos-Duterte axis of power, instead of building her up. This is the overarching ethos that is embedded in the psyche of her campaign to a point that it is already structural, and not just some predisposition that can easily be reformed.

The final nail that seals the fate of the Robredo campaign is the inherent moral and intellectual elitism of many of her supporters. This, combined with the urge to attack and take down, and transmogrified into the very character of the campaign that has rendered it as a liability as she now tries to catch up with the survey results of frontrunner Marcos.

A campaign dominated by anger, when juxtaposed with moral self-righteousness and intellectual elitism, naturally breeds the kind of attitude where the “other,” or those who are not riding the Robredo bandwagon, are demeaned, diminished and demonized as stupid, ignorant enablers of evil and corruption.

What happened last February 4, was symptomatic of the extreme difficulty being experienced by the Robredo campaign. Within less than 24 hours, her supporters have alienated and angered two sectors of society that are rich with potential votes.

More serious is how her supporters have tried to make fun of Marcos’ attire during his interview with Korina Sanchez, by turning it into a meme suggesting that Marcos looked like a service crew in a fast-food chain, or working in a gasoline station or in a courier company.

 The attempt to make fun miserably backfired as it drew the ire of many who saw it as an insult to our service workers. Marcos masterfully appropriated the meme, spun it around and owned it as a representation of his solidarity with the working class.

It was Robredo’s campaign that was fatally wounded, with her much touted preference for the “laylayan” now undermined by an underhanded mistreatment of blue-collar workers by her supporters.

Less noticed, but still offensive, is how her supporters have once again pounced on Marcos for claiming in a radio interview with DZBB that he is a graduate of Oxford. This time, he was no longer claiming that he finished a full-blown baccalaureate degree, something which his camp has already affirmed when it acknowledged that what he obtained was only a special diploma.

The crux of the contention here is the use of the label “graduate.” Any university knows that anyone who obtains a credential, whether it is pre-baccalaureate, or a full bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree, are considered “graduates” and are even inducted as members of their alumni associations. UP has two-year certificate programs like the Certificate in Forestry at UPLB, or Associate in Arts programs at UP Diliman and UP Open University.

The urge to denigrate Marcos as unworthy of claiming the label “graduate” because he did not finish a full bachelor’s degree also effectively diminished the right of those hundreds of thousands, even millions of graduates not only of pre-baccalaureate certificate programs, or Associate in Arts programs not only at UP but other higher education institutions, but also of vocational and technical courses that are offered under Tesda.

This is now a predicament that has been structurally embedded within the Robredo campaign. Indeed, one can also argue that the campaign of Marcos is likewise riddled with toxic supporters and influencers targeting Robredo and her supporters.

The big difference, unfortunately for Robredo, is that Marcos is the frontrunner. All he needs is to consolidate his votes, and while it is disheartening, this negative toxicity in fact becomes useful in consolidating and rallying his base.

It is entirely different for Robredo. She is trying to catch up and hopefully overtake Marcos. In order to do this, she has to expand her base, and she can only do this by convincing the undecided and converting soft voters from other candidates, including Marcos.

The electoral math is already formidably stacked to favor Marcos, with very few undecided and soft voters.

This would become more daunting if you alienate a cohort or sector of voters. And, this is exactly what Robredo supporters have done. They have angered and alienated not only service workers, but possibly even graduates of certificate, Associate in Arts and vocational-technical programs.

With supporters like these, Robredo doesn’t need the Marcos trolls to make her life difficult.

Again, I would reiterate. What Robredo needs is less radical love to energize her campaign. Instead, what she actually needs is a radical reboot to save it.

Defending intellectual dishonesty

Saying that 4 x 40 = 1,600 is a mathematical error that could have easily been explained away by simply admitting that it is a mistake. After all, she would not be the first person to have committed a mistake in verbal calculations. She is just human, and errors like this are not fatal or career-breaking.

But Vice President Maria Leonor Robredo, instead of apologizing, doubled down on the lie being peddled by her enablers and loyalists that malicious minds deliberately edited and spliced her speech to make it appear she committed the mistake.

 It is a mistake, caught on tape which had she admitted it could have easily blown over, and we all could have moved on. But instead, Robredo kept channeling the big lie.

It could have been merely petty for anyone to keep on harping on it until she recently repeated it in the same livestreamed video where she committed not only one, but two egregious medical errors in human anatomy by referring to her vein as a nerve and her left arm as her right and wrongly referring to an arm splint as a tourniquet.

In a very patronizing way, she called out the social media comment of someone named Quizon Ren who reminded her of her mistake. Robredo again claimed that the video showing her miscalculation was spliced and that Quizon Ren was pitiful or kawawa for believing it.

Repeating a big lie and using it to quarrel with an ordinary citizen on social media is not just petty. In fact, it speaks a lot about the real character of this presidential candidate.

It is easy to debunk the claim by Robredo that the video showing her claiming that 4 x 40 = 1,600 is spliced. One just has to review the original, raw footage uploaded in some media platforms, one of which was Rappler, and compare it with the video uploaded highlighting the error. A careful comparison would reveal that the latter is a faithful reproduction of the original, where she indeed said that 4 x 40 = 1,600.

Rappler, in particular, has a treasure trove of fact-checked pro-Marcos materials, showing their earnest desire to prove as a lie any claim beneficial to Marcos Jr., but has not declared that the video showing Robredo’s mathematical gaffe is in fact an un-spliced reproduction of an original that they themselves uploaded in their platform.

The only valid explanation here is that these fact-checkers, including Rappler, are moonlighting as part of the wrecking crew targeting Marcos Jr.

But even beyond the physical evidence of merely visually inspecting and comparing the alleged spliced video with the raw original footage, there lies the logical context that could further shed light on the Robredo lie.

It must be recalled that the intent of Robredo in that particular speech was to show that the monthly subsidy given to poor households of P200 pesos was not enough to cover additional expenses due to price increases brought on by the Train law. This is where she focused on the additional P4 increase per kilogram of rice.

Arguing that a household consumes on the average of 10 kg of rice a week, she correctly projected that the weekly increase in the cost of rice consumption per household would be P40, which is simply reached by multiplying 10 kg per week by P4 per kg.

Thus, the logical flow to show the additional monthly cost to a family on rice alone is to simply multiply P40 per week by 4 since there are four weeks in a month which, had Robredo computed it correctly, would have yielded P160, and not P1,600.

Robredo claims that she was actually referring to 4 x 10 x 40, which could have indeed led to 1,600, except that it behooves us to ask what is this second “10” all about. The “10” which refers to the weekly consumption of rice in kilograms is already absorbed by the value of “40,” which is the weekly additional cost for rice consumption, which she computed by multiplying it by the increase in the cost of rice per kilogram which is P4.

When pro-Robredo supporters paint her as a truthful and honest woman with an economics degree from the University of the Philippines who does not lie, it is no longer petty to burst her bubble when she keeps on lying.

And it is the duty of any teacher like me to ignore being accused of pettiness and bias, and call out her lie.

@Stheven Pabalinas

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