Ma’am Leni

Manila Bulletin - - Views • Features - By ERIK ESPINA

AFAMILIAR maxim of old stated, “Ev­ery sen­a­tor thinks of him­self a Ceasar.” The lo­cal ver­sion is, “There are 24 re­publics as there are Sen­a­tors.” It is a le­git­i­mate am­bi­tion for ev­ery sen­a­tor, elected na­tion­wide, to as­pire to be pres­i­dent one day. That is fair. What of vice pres­i­dents (VPs)? When­ever the oc­ca­sion arises, when public of­fi­cials are asked about fu­ture in­ten­tions for “higher pur­poses,” it is cus­tom­ary to be de­mure, and po­lit­i­cally cor­rect, by evad­ing the is­sue, piv­ot­ing to the plea­sure and im­por­tance of the cur­rent work ren­dered. As the late Vice Pres­i­dent Sal­vador Lau­rel would coun­sel me, “Pol­i­tics is like poker. You have to keep your cards as close to your ch­est as pos­si­ble.” A more re­cent phe­nom­e­non was that of then Makati Mayor Je­jo­mar Bi­nay who went against the mold and openly de­clared his plans to be vice pres­i­dent. This was one suc­cess­ful for­mula. But that was for vice pres­i­dent. Per­haps, it was cul­tur­ally ac­cept­able, is it main­tained the ve­neer of hu­mil­ity. Test the chem­istry on an­nounc­ing, too early, plans for the pres­i­dency, and you can ex­pect to be “thrown off the bus” by col­leagues or the ad­min­is­tra­tion you once served. Cases are filed against you, fam­ily mem­bers, and iden­ti­fied stal­warts of your party. This is a his­tory les­son.

The en­vi­ron­ment of the vice pres­i­dency is one unique to the 2nd lofti­est post of the coun­try. It only be­comes ger­mane and cur­rent when the pres­i­dent is “in­ca­pac­i­tated” (phys­i­cally or is over­thrown), dies or re­signs. Its im­por­tance is best ap­pre­ci­ated by the minis­cule bud­get com­pared to those of the pres­i­dent and cabi­net mem­bers with port­fo­lio. The po­si­tion it­self is not even man­dated state pro­tec­tion by the Pres­i­den­tial Guards, ex­cept when Mala­cañang ex­tends such cour­tesy. This clearly is so un­like the Se­cret Ser­vice func­tions of the United States. How for­tu­nate then, when the VP is of­fered, a Cabi­net post. This is lib­er­a­tion from the dol­drumes of twid­dling fin­gers, and cam­paign­ing the next six years on an al­ready re­duced bud­get, to be rel­e­vant.

A sen­a­tor and a cabi­net mem­ber look­ing to the pres­i­dency re­side in dif­fer­ent realms. One is in an en­vi­ron­ment of open de­bate and dis­course, the other of be­long­ing to the pres­i­dent’s fam­ily. What­ever pol­icy and po­lit­i­cal dis­ga­ree­ments arise from the lat­ter, they must be tack­led like a “fam­ily” and within the con­fines of the Palace. You should never dis­play the fam­ily’s “dirty linen in public.” The re­sult of such public dis­play of prodi­gal­ity must as­sume the risk of re­moval from the Cabi­net. In the case of M’am Leni, it was “con­struc­tive fir­ing.” When pol­icy and prin­ci­ple be­come ir­rec­on­cil­able, the de­cent thing to do is re­sign ir­re­vo­ca­bly. It’s best not to ac­cept a post. My read­ers should judge the me­dia pro­nounce­ments by the VP on Pres­i­dent Dutere while a cabi­net mem­ber: 1) EJK, 2) hu­man rights, 3) Sen. De Lima’s treat­ment, 4) Mar­cos’ burial, 5) death penalty, 6) child crim­i­nals, 7) “palda” joke, 8) New Year’s “Good Change,” 9) “re­hab slow” af­ter Typhoon Nina.

This week, ‘Leni leaks’?

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Philippines

© PressReader. All rights reserved.