“Indeed we have elected an extraordinary vice president.”
In his essay “Rediscovering a Brave Brand of “Doing Politics” published in “Servant Leader Leni Robredo, Constitutional Commissioner Ed Garcia dissects how the lack of administration support for VP Leni Robredo’s endeavors and the lack of respect by the administration led VP Leni to resign from the Duterte cabinet and forge ahead to rediscover a brave brand of “doing politics.” Garcia gives us an insight on the message that VP Leni’s resignation has conveyed to all of us, more particularly to the youth. To Garcia, one word perhaps best captures the reason for her decision: Respect or the lack of it.
What her resignation has done is to draw a demarcation line between two styles of doing politics, and to encourage rethinking on the nature of politics. One kind of politics deals with the people in terms of patronage and promotes the politics of fear. The other kind relies on the power of principles and the power of persuasion. Moreover, her decision “to desist,” so to speak, has also underscored the salience of respect at the core of governance: Respect for people and for one another in the team of leaders and those in the opposition, Garcia continues.
Garcia observes that moral courage is a rare commodity in today’s politics. For him, what her resignation has provided is an example that allows people—the young and the old, millennials and the so called “perennials”—to seize an opportune moment and rediscover a way of doing politics and retrieve a brave brand of being. As she put it: “time for fear” has passed: The time for “conviction and courage” has arrived, and is now upon us.
In brief, what the Vice-President’s resignation has emphasized is the importance of the politics of principles, the imperative for respect in governance. It shows a three-fold respect for truth, particularly, historical truth; respect for life, and all human rights; and, respect for women, and their rights, the essay continues.
In the eyes of the author, her (VP Leni) character is forged in adversity. She understands tragedy directly as she survived the loss of a loved one in a tragic plane crash while on a mission as a public servant. Life has taught her resilience—resilience in the face of adverse circumstances, in the face of setbacks and loss.
Her resignation provokes re-thinking among our normally complacent youth and hurls a challenge to them to invite them to develop a better understanding of the new politics that is possible. It is a new politics that is based on character and competence, resilience, and social conscience. This is the underlying message that her resignation delivers to the generation that did not live through martial law in the flesh but has nevertheless embraced this “teachable moment” in our country’s journey. It is time to pursue this continuing conversation among our millennials and the so-called “perennials” in our midst, exchanging experiences and learning, Garcia observes.
In another essay entitled “Transforming Rage into Courage,” Garcia discusses how, in the wake of her resignation in the Cabinet, VP Leni firmed up her resolve to work for people, by continuing her work without the constraints of being part of the Cabinet. According to Garcia, her decision means that she will work for those “on the fringes of society” by working on the “fringes of government.” The fact that she will work outside the Cabinet can be considered a blessing—for it gives her brand of principled politics, one that is anchored on a brave way of doing politics from below, a real chance of working though it will certainly be challenged by the traditional politics of the day.
Given her lifelong advocacy, her track record, her personal gifts, and her passion for causes she holds dear, it would seem logical that Leni Robredo’s principal focus would be to help improve the lives of our people. The laser focus of this are the womenfolk, who she has supported in her previous work as the alternative legal defender, non-governmental worker, local government activist and legislator representing a district in the province of Camarines Sur, Garcia observes. She has of course expanded her work to many of our islands, assisted with the most dedicated and competent staff I have not seen in government for a long time now.
Surely, as the author aptly observes, Leni’s experiences, either personal or professional, has defined her way of doing politics. Indeed, we have elected an extraordinary VP: A woman of uncommon valor, of immense moral courage with a marathon mentality without the drama, one who has excelled in quiet work from below, and, hopefully, one who can bring out our country’s better angels.
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