Sen. De Lima asks: Is VP Leni’s ouster next?

Following is Sen. Leila de Lima’s dispatch from her cell in Camp Crame: IN Duterte’s list of independent and strong women that he wants removed from office, only one remains. CJ Sereno was just recently ousted by her own colleagues. Ombudsman Morales will finish her term in July of this year, making her ouster by Duterte already unnecessary. The only remaining woman to be removed from office by Duterte is VP Leni Robredo. The removal of VP Robredo is special to Duterte. First, strong women remind Duterte so much of his own mother’s spirit that dominated him, something that he is unable to escape from up to the present. Duterte prefers women to be weak. Strong, independent, and determined women have always been a threat to his own masculinity. He throws sexual insults and objectify them in order to compensate for his own inadequacies. Stripping strong women of their power is just the political extension of these compensatory actions. Second, it will be the removal from office of the last high-ranking official critical of Duterte’s regime. Robredo remains to be a thorn on the President’s side, despite her efforts to work with him on matters of governance and leadership. Robredo’s removal will give Duterte relief from a counter-point personality who is capable of commanding international recognition as a true leader of the Filipino people. Third, if done through the election protest filed by Bongbong Marcos with the SC acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), it will replace Robredo with Marcos as Vice President. This will save Duterte from calls for his own ouster. Because Duterte’s removal from office will mean the succession of another plundering Marcos to the presidency, his critics will now hesitate from asking him to resign. The various groups wishing Duterte’s ouster are as much anti-Marcos as they are anti-Duterte. They will have to think twice before asking again for Duterte’s resignation or removal from office. Robredo’s ouster therefore means Duterte’s survival. The last point is why Robredo’s removal as VP can be achieved via the election protest filed by Marcos. With GMA and Duterte appointees as allies in the Supreme Court, Marcos might be able to pull a protest victory, no matter how seemingly improbable at the moment. After the SC has already successfully removed their very own Chief Justice through a culpable violation of the Constitution, there is nothing else left that the Court cannot do now, legally or illegally. The Court might have already started this ball rolling with the adoption of a 50% shading threshold in the physical count of Robredo and Marcos votes. Although theoretically, this applies to both Robredo and Marcos, it can always be utilized to especially deduct votes from Robredo. But the fact remains that there is no reason for the SC to adopt this threshold, given the COMELEC’s categorical clarification that the 2016 voting machines were primed to read 25% shading as the minimum threshold for a valid vote. Read within the political context that Robredo is the remaining threat to Duterte—after the Supreme Court already ousted Sereno through diabolically illegal and unconstitutional means—the decision of the Court as PET to increase the shading threshold for valid votes becomes highly suspicious. The removal of Sereno through unconstitutional means tells us that anything is now possible at the Supreme Court. The Court just told us in Republic v. Sereno that white is black. There is no reason why it cannot tell us in Marcos v. Robredo that yellow is red. After all, Marcos needs only 8 votes to oust Robredo, the same number of votes used to oust Sereno.