Wonder Women – Manila Standard


“The Wonder Women,” one unabashed admirer called them recently—that collection of female politicians who have made it their business to be on the wrong side of President Rodrigo Duterte by repeatedly calling him out on practically every issue. And they were all over the place yesterday, cluttering social media news feeds with their antics and statements, making you, yes, wonder if something is afoot involving these super-heroines of the Yellow persuasion.

On top of the list, all the way from Los Angeles, California, is Vice President Leni Robredo, in La-La Land to attend a $500-a-plate fundraiser for her pet projects. Robredo is hands-down the winner of the long gown competition in a dark blue number reminiscent of the outfits of Imelda Marcos, the Iron Butterfly herself, as she smiles in photographs while hobnobbing with the crème de la crème of the Fil-Am West Coasters whom she dunned for donations.

You’ve come a long way, baby, as the old cigarette commercial said. Indeed, Robredo has leveled up from the lowly “lugaw” that she used to push before the 2016 elections.

If her filings with the Commission on Elections are to be believed, the rice porridge gimmick was such a lucrative fund-raising offering that she was able to collect hundreds of millions of pesos and end up a heartbeat away from the presidency. So why not bring the same business model, mutatis mutandis, to LA and raise greenbacks instead?

Leni’s latest sojourn to the land of Hillary and Loida raised questions not only about the timing of her visit, since everyone knows that there’s a war going on in Marawi City. The visit also made people wonder (that word, again) what Robredo needs the money for, since no elections are in sight.

Of course, all the poor, hardscrabble Duterte supporters who have been clucking their disapproval on Facebook will probably never receive a reply from Madama Vice President. Let them eat their lugaw, for pete’s sake.

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Then there’s Senator Risa Hontiveros, who advised Duterte yesterday that “[t]here is no such thing as an indefinite martial law.” In a text message to reporters, Hontiveros quipped: “Walang unli [unlimited] martial law.”

Again, Hontiveros seems to have joined an intellectual knife fight armed only with a toothpick. She seems to be saying—against all evidence to the contrary­—that Duterte cannot declare martial law once again after the 60-day period for imposing military rule expires.

This is so laughable that it normally shouldn’t need further comment. After all, what the 1987 Constitution merely says is that the president, once the 60-day martial law period expires, may go to Congress to seek an extension, so theoretically, with congressional approval, martial law can go “unli.”

But Hontiveros already got into trouble recently because of her understanding of what the 1987 Constitution provides before any martial law proclamation can be issued. Hontiveros got so tangled up in making a distinction between rebellion and invasion, which she first attempted in a television interview, that she eventually just said she was in favor of whatever Duterte was doing to put down the takeover of Marawi City by the IS-inspired Maute gang.

But give Hontiveros a little credit from attempting a comeback. Although, like her previous experience in defining rebellion and invasion, I wonder (yes, wonder) if she’s not setting herself up for more grief.

“Unli” grief, if I may say so.

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And last but not the least, all the way from her detention cell in Camp Crame, we have the most assiduous handwritten letter-writer in the land, Senator Leila de Lima. In the senator’s latest outburst, she declares that she never knew that Duterte would turn out to be so “vindictive.”

“I never, for a single moment, ever imagined that he would be this vindictive,” the famous detainee said. “I never anticipated that I would be imprisoned, ever. I was [justice] secretary. I was putting people behind bars. Now, I am here.”

Unfortunately for De Lima, victimhood doesn’t become her. As she implied, she was the one “victimizing” people by throwing the book at them —people like former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Chief Justice Renato Corona and even the two former senators with whom she now shares a prison compound.

I wonder if De Lima has asked herself why, if she is such a martyr, she cannot get the people to sympathize with her. Yes, I wonder if it’s not vindictiveness on the part of Duterte, as De Lima claims, but karmic justice putting in a quick appearance and reminding her that you can’t always be on top.

De Lima attributes her incarceration to vindictiveness because she never mentions that she is locked up, as the charge sheets say, because of her alleged involvement with illegal drug syndicates. And that the President who threw her in jail was elected into because he pledged to do something about the problem of illegal drugs; it was De Lima’s old boss who made political vendetta his foremost priority, with Leila was his chief implementor.

All these wonderful women. Makes you wonder why no matter what they do and no matter how noble their professed plans, they can never seem to win the people over.

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