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’?