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EDITORIAL: Real challenge to Leni’s ascendancy

UNDERSTANDABLY, the failure of the impeachment process against Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Gerona Robredo initiated by lawyer Bruce Rivera et. al. is not the real challenge to her legitimacy. The moving case of electoral fraud hounding her legitimacy to hold on to the second highest elective position in the land that ex-senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. filed before the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) is the real challenge. It will not be long that the electoral protest process would begin and actual recounting takes place within the year which may become a big surprise to both camps. Arguably, Leni and her camp have yet to overcome the defensive position that they had unwittingly assumed immediately at the onset of the filing of the electoral-fraud case. In the realm of propaganda, the Marcos side seems to score in the social media and cast perception of doubt among the ordinary folks against the vice president’s legitimacy. This is not to say that Leni’s camp has taken the situation sitting down; they, too, are engaging their counterparts in the social media. It becomes harder for the Leni camp to effectively project and narrate the absolute claim of the sworn-in vice president to the seat of power while Bongbong camp projects confidence on their own claims that blur the black and white borders of whether or not they are true. Bongbong started the challenge to Leni’s legitimacy, immediately after the vice president started leading in the electronic count proceedings. Sustained and calculated, Bongbong camp utilized Information Technology specialists to expound and lend technical voice regarding the issue of electoral fraud through electronic manipulation. The son of the dictator has seemed to be successfully conducting a whole propaganda orchestra of trolls, bloggers, lawyers active in the tit-for-tat, with a bonus of an aria performed by President Duterte that named Bongbong as the vice president should he win the electoral case against Leni at the PET. Naturally, Leni’s camp has to engage in each propaganda statement Bongbong camp issues, from employing dilatory tactics to blocking the progress of the case. Bongbong questions the results of 9,509 clustered precincts while Leni seeks annulment of results of 2,756 clustered precincts. Now that both parties to the case have made down payment of the court fees, the electoral-fraud case will proceed faster than we will know it. Must Leni file counter-protest if only to disprove Bongbong’s allegation of electoral fraud? Not everyone will agree she must not but if one is in the position of truth and belief in regularity of government operation including the Commission on Elections and the courts, there is nothing to worry about. This posturing and projection of confidence that ‘truth will set us free’ maybe the best handle to upturn the defensive position Leni’s camp has been trapped into. The filing of counter-protest can be solely credited to Leni’s lawyer, the well-known Romulo Macalintal. Being one of the most sought -- after legal voice who is always on the media screen, Macalintal claims he’s on pro bono service to Leni. It must be believed he stands for Leni without legal service fees, if not it is a pure sacrifice and service on his part to win the case against the electoral-fraud case. The sidebar of the challenges confronting Leni’s legitimacy is the popularity rating that has consistently gone down in the recent surveys. Based on the impression of more than a thousand respondents, which is the standard scientific way of getting an acceptable number of respondents to reflect the general sentiment across economic status, Leni has lost percentage of the population who gave trust of her being a public official. Since surveys mainly reflect the general impression, was there something wrong with the way Leni presents herself before the public? One legitimate observation of how Leni presents herself before the public has to do with the impression of discord between her expression and what she is saying before the camera. Skipping the impressionistic details of the observation, would it be effective to assume statesman-like sense of presence exuded by the likes of the late Leticia Shahani or Haydee Yorac to achieve improvement in the public perception and impression? With the verdict of the electoral protest yet to be concluded after examination of evidence, arguments and counter-arguments, the real winner in the electoral protest at the PET should be convincing enough to sustain the public support beyond the litigation process.

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