It looks like Vice President Leni Robredo is so desperate for publicity that she will do anything and everything, even to the extent of making false statements or irrelevant announcements, just to make it to the news.
Ever since she assumed office in 2016, Robredo has been making public statements that only serve to prove her very limited understanding of the Constitution, the law and important national issues. That’s probably the reason why she failed the Bar examinations the first time around.
Aggravating the situation for Robredo is her inability to speak proper English, as seen in her penchant for talking in hybrid or carabao English whenever she is interviewed by the TV news media. In almost all of those interviews, Robredo sounds more like a showbiz gossip TV program host than a vice president.
With the exception perhaps of Noli de Castro who at least can speak proper Tagalog, vice presidents before Robredo could speak straight English. Robredo can speak proper English only by way of a prepared speech.
Last year, and probably upon the advice of her handlers, Robredo began sporting what looks like a “scholarly” image by adjusting her hairstyle and wearing eyeglasses. In one public appearance, she even had books on her table to suggest that she is an intellectual.
That clumsy attempt at a cosmetic overhaul backfired because many saw through her charade. A former film actress even derided Robredo’s superficial imagery.
As if Robredo’s lack of substance and inability to articulate are not bad enough for a politician aspiring to become president in 2022, there is also Robredo’s habit of smirking during TV interviews, a habit she probably copied from a former president. This bad habit adds to Robredo’s credibility problem.
Last week, Robredo accused the administration of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte of non-compliance with the safety procedures regarding the public distribution of Covid-19 vaccines imported to the country recently. It turned out that she misunderstood the clear import of the laws governing the safety protocols of vaccine distribution.
As expected, Robredo’s baseless accusation made President Duterte very angry, as seen in a press conference in Malacañang covered on TV.
Instead of acknowledging her mistake, Robredo brazenly brushed aside her error. In her usual carabao English and in between her chronic smirks, Robredo said in a TV interview that it is her constitutional right to speak her mind. She also claimed that she is a national leader whose opinions are important to the people.
Robredo’s remark is both self-praising and devoid of legal justification.
For starters, Robredo may be an elected official but she is not a national leader. As vice president, Robredo has no executive duties. She is not even a member of the Cabinet. Other than being a “spare tire” in the Executive department of the government, Robredo has no substantial basis to proclaim herself a national leader.
Right now, all Robredo can claim is that she heads the Office of the Vice President, which has no real or serious importance in the daily operations of the national government. Bluntly speaking, Robredo is the boss only of her office employees.
While Robredo’s constitutional right to free speech is acknowledged, she must remember that as vice president, the dignity of her office demands that she should set the example for others by refraining from making baseless or irresponsible statements that only tend to confuse or mislead the public.
In other words, if Robredo were not a public official, she can say anything she wants, but as long as she is Vice President, she must be careful about what she says. Being a highly visible official, some gullible citizens may end up believing her, and that will be a great disservice to those citizens.
From how she has been behaving in public, it looks like Robredo’s latest publicity gimmick is to annoy President Duterte with her baseless accusations and provoke the President to give her a piece of his mind in public. That way, the media will surely interview Robredo, and that interview is her ticket to free publicity.
Robredo is that desperate for publicity because she sees it as her only hope of avoiding political oblivion.