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Leni the Unfrail

If you see Senator Leila de Lima in church again soon, don’t be surprised. With the arrest of her former driver-lover Ronnie Dayan and the expected damning testimony to be given starting today by alleged drug lord Kerwin Espinosa, the senator will be needing all the help she can get from anywhere.

I don’t know if De Lima will be making the same prediction about Dayan that she made about Espinosa, to the effect that her former paramour may be killed even if he cooperates with the authorities and rats on her. But I know while she will closely monitor Espinosa’s statements in the Senate, she will be on pins and needles while the House of Representatives goes about the job of questioning Dayan.

Personally, I think Espinosa will be the source of more damaging testimony in a court of law against the senator. But Dayan will provide the salacious details about De Lima that will keep people chattering for weeks to come.

Between the two witnesses, I think De Lima’s goose is well and truly cooked. After all, three senators were recently jailed, in part because of De Lima’s efforts as justice secretary, using a lot less testimonial evidence than these two former fugitives are expected to provide.

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For all her tough-as-nails pugnaciousness, De Lima has admitted that she is still subject to the “frailties of a woman,” in her quaint phrase. I wonder what it would take to weaken the resolve of the frail-looking Vice President Leni Robredo enough to make her quit the Duterte Cabinet.

Robredo was the recent target of vicious rumors of her alleged pregnancy at the ripe old, non-child-bearing age of 52. The rumors were “insulting,” according to the vice president—but not insulting enough, apparently, to make her quit.

Speaking of old age, former President Fidel Ramos, at 88, has no problem with quitting when he knows he’s not wanted. Ramos, after a much-publicized visit to Malacañang during which he was supposed to have mended fences with President Rodrigo Duterte, once again criticized the incumbent Chief Executive, unleashing a double-barreled attack centered on the burial of Ferdinand Marcos and Duterte’s non-appearance at key events during the recently concluded APEC summit in Lima, Peru.

But Ramos knew enough to resign first as special envoy to China before he started attacking the man he was supposed to have convinced to run for president last May. In this respect, Ramos is definitely more sensitive to public opinion than Robredo ever will be.

Robredo once again found herself at odds with Duterte when she also lambasted the burial of Marcos at the Libingan ng Mga Bayani, which the president had promised to Ilocanos during a campaign sortie in February. Robredo said the Marcos family acted “like a thief in the night” when it suddenly interred the long-dead remains of the former dictator last Friday.

Then, Robredo disclosed a plan to remove her by yearend and hand over the vice presidency to former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., based on a text message she was supposed to have received. According to Robredo, the votes cast last May 9 in certain provinces were being recounted in order to show that the younger Marcos had won, paving the way for her removal.

By Robredo’s fuzzy reckoning, the Marcos burial was part of a grand scheme that would lead to her ouster and the installation of Bongbong. This fantastic scenario would be a lot more believable if Robredo didn’t also know that Bongbong’s camp has in fact been nagging the Presidential Electoral Tribunal to act on the former senator’s three-month-old protest – and that the PET has not gone as far as to start a recount that Marcos says would prove his case of massive cheating that robbed him of the vice presidency.

Robredo will talk about anything and everything, it seems, like she did yesterday at a forum hosted by the Philippine Stock Exchange, during which she took a swipe at the violent war or drugs being waged by Duterte. But the one thing you will not hear Robredo hear talking about is why she continues to cling to her post as housing czarina of the Duterte administration.

Two of the leftists in the Cabinet of Duterte, at least, have declared that they are not resigning, either, despite their opposition to the burial of Marcos at the military cemetery. But both Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano and Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo said that they are still willing to work with Duterte because they see eye-to-eye with him on more important matters.

And Duterte has not even subjected neither Mariano nor Taguiwalo have been subjected to salty sexual innuendo by Duterte yet. In contrast, Robredo has never sufficiently explained why she stays on in the Cabinet, even if she has almost always clashed with the president on policy and politics and despite her boss’ salty remarks about her legs and knees. 

A daughter of Robredo’s, seeking to debunk the rumors of her mother’s purported pregnancy, has sarcastically asked online if that would not be like an immaculate conception. But I think the more miraculous event is the continued stay of Robredo in Duterte’s Cabinet, despite all the trials and tribulations that she says she’s been encountering on the job.

Unlike De Lima, Robredo is turning out to be anything but frail. The vice president may no longer be able to bear children, but her ability to withstand the slings and arrows of her outrageous Cabinet stay remains in perfect shape.

Topics: Jojo Robles , Leni the Unfrail , Senator Leila de Lima , Ronnie Dayan , Kerwin Espinosa , Vice President Leni Robredo , President Fidel Ramos
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