Vice President Leni Robredo took a long time in making her decision to run for president; she was daunted by the costs to the purse and her emotional state of a fully contested presidential election. She doubted whether the political opposition and the Liberal Party, of which she is the chairman, had sufficient popular support and organization to mount a successful challenge for the presidency.
When she finally decided to throw her hat into the ring, she issued a weird declaration. She said she was running for president in order to prevent Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. from winning the presidency.
Leni also decided that she would eschew yellow as the color of her campaign, remembering how the Liberal Party and the Aquino political machine were soundly thrashed in two most recent elections: the presidential election in 2016 and the midterm election in 2019. Instead, she adopted pink as her color of choice.
In this, Leni conveniently forgot that it was President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino 3rd who literally installed her in the vice presidency first by dictating her vice-presidential nomination alongside Manuel Roxas 3rd and then, by allegedly ordering the cheating of the heavily favored Marcos Jr. in the election count through the Commission on Elections and Smartmatic election technology.
It surprised no one that Robredo’s presidential campaign adopted the message and tone of unrelenting negativity. Negativism has been the hallmark of the politics of the Liberal Party and the Aquino family since the presidency of Corazon C. Aquino in1986, and the subsequent presidency of Benigno Aquino 3rd in 2010. Both presidents made the cancellation and demonization of the Marcoses in Philippine history and culture official policy.
Leni Robredo imagined that she was adopting a tried and tested campaign strategy against Bongbong Marcos when she launched her negative attacks on Marcos and his family.
“Laban” or fight! she exclaimed.
It never occurred to her that negative campaigning could boomerang on her own campaign. Not conversant on modern politics, she was hopelessly unaware that negative personal attacks were being shunned by modern political campaigns as a recipe for failure.
The alleged Aika sex video
This advice is unfortunately late because the Vice President has landed in a big-time controversy that places her character and her office in question.
Robredo has been quoted on record as lying through her teeth in a vain attempt to disgrace Bongbong Marcos and his campaign (the English idiom ‘lie through one’s teeth’ means to issue a false statement with a deliberate intent to deceive).
Specifically, the Vice President and her campaign team are doing their utmost to sell the nation on the falsehood that Marcos and his campaign have victimized Robredo’s eldest daughter Aika by posting an appalling sex video online. She wants to incite popular indignation against Marcos and pocket sympathy for herself and her family.
The problem with this tale is that Robredo could not and has not produced up to now the littlest evidence of the alleged offense, or even that such a video exists (online or elsewhere), even as she boasted about going to court to file charges.
Unless Robredo herself orders the creation of such a video or Aika consents to star in it, there will be no trace whatever of this vaporous scandal.
The only thing that sticks out here is the incredible devaluation of high office with Robredo’s brazen lie against a political opponent.
Strategic use of internet is one factor decisively driving 2022 election
The second problem with this accusation is that the act of smearing another person and her family, not even a political adversary, is totally out of character with Marcos Jr.
Robredo may be able to stomach the idea of her daughter being victimized or abused in this fashion. Marcos Jr. will absolutely be revolted by the very thought of being associated with the deed, however fictional.
For all their righteous and phony expressions of outrage and concern for Aika, the Yellow cult and the entire Robredo campaign have gained nothing from this story.
This sex video crap is properly dumped in the same garbage pile as the other schemes to take out Marcos Jr. from the presidential race: the disqualification case vs Marcos Jr. at the Comelec; the alleged tax evasion conviction for moral turpitude; the supposed P203 billion estate tax owed the government by the Marcos family; the vicious rumor of alleged drug addiction; as well as the numerous demands for Marcos, Jr. to apologize or atone for alleged sins of his father, like human rights abuses during martial law, and his supposed hidden and stolen wealth.
The net result of this unending series of accusations is paradoxical public weariness and skepticism about these stories, and the welling of sympathy and support for the Marcos family, particularly Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos.
Negative campaigning out of favor
The core problem with Robredo’s strategy is that negative campaigning has now almost totally lost its teeth and its bite. It is out of favor and impotent.
There was a time when politicians often took the low road in bidding for public office. In the Philippines, politicos used to get wide publicity for hurling scandalous bombs against political opponents.
Times have drastically changed.
According to Dick Morris, in his book The New Prince (Renaissance Books, Los Angeles,1999), “In modern politics, a candidate’s positive issue message, the substance of his candidacy, has become far more important than money, image, spin, negative attacks and political party.
“Message is more important than money. Issues are more central than image. Strategy matters more than tactics. Positives work better than negatives. Substance is more salient than scandal. Issues are more powerful than image. The more partisan you are, the less effective you will be. Appeals rooted in generosity and the public interest do better than those which appeal to the voters’ self interest. Voters want to hear about how to make lives better, not richer. Values matter more than economics.”
He continues: “Voters hate negative ads. Candidates rely on them to their detriment…
“The key to winning any race is to come up with an affirmative message that outdistances your opponent’s message. It is the inability to understand this simple, straightforward point that causes more losses in politics than any other single factor.”
Yellows’ crisis of survival
Leni Robredo took her political lessons chiefly from the political legacy of Cory Aquino. The Yellows and the Liberals have traded chiefly on the demonization of political adversaries through falsehoods and political deception. They are trying to make Robredo another widow-president.
The decline of Aquino politics and the Liberal Party is principally the result of the negativity and obsolescence of their political message.
Against Bongbong Marcos and the UniTeam, Robredo’s current campaign is hopelessly out of step, particularly with young people who yearn for something positive and a better life, and a confident vision of the nation and the Filipino future.
Robredo never got around to thinking out her personal vision about the kind of future she can offer the nation with her policy agenda. But all she is really saying is that rejecting Bongbong Marcos will be good for our country and our people.
She is not discerning enough to see the poverty of this vision.
The May election is in some respects an existential struggle for the Yellows and the Liberal Party.
The color yellow looks spent in national politics; she is now an embarrassment even to devotees of the Yellow cult.
In the current election cycle, the Aquinos are notably absent from the electoral races. Former senator Bam Aquino was supposed to run for the Senate again, but he abandoned his quest in favor of serving as Robredo’s campaign manager.
If, despite all the negative vitriol, Bongbong Marcos is elected as the new president of the Philippines; and if in addition, the BBM-Sara UniTeam also sweeps the congressional and local races, and the opposition is shut out from the Senate, the country will witness a salient change in its politics.
The Liberals could be demoted to the ranks of minor political parties, fit more to stand in the party-list system, than as the party in opposition to the new administration. Thereupon, the Aquino-Cojuangco political family may cease to be a force in Philippine public life.