RIVERMAN’S VISTA:  Robredo’s political divorce from Duterte is good for the country

My take on the Duterte-Robredo separation: other than the bad and graceless way this was done on the part of Duterte, this is a good development for Leni Robredo and for the country. I welcome this and saw this coming sooner rather than later.

For Leni, this was good because it was really no longer tenable for her to stay in the cabinet with her strong disagreement on many important issues with the President. Ordinarily, I would have expected a cabinet member, who is an alter ego of the President, to actually keep his or her opinions to herself when it is opposed to the president, but I understand Leni was not an ordinary cabinet member. As Vice-President, she has her own political mandate and constituency and should be allowed some leeway. Certainly VP Binay had that space although he limited his criticism to other cabinet colleagues and did not target the President until he left the cabinet.

In my view, the better way of doing this was for the President to simply ask Leni to resign given that the differences were irreconcilable.

Conversely, at some point, Leni might have to do it herself when Digong does or says something even more atrocious than those he has already done.

As to whether she has been fired or she is resigning, it does not matter. The result is the same: she is now completely free to lead the opposition against the Duterte government.

This is where it is good for the country, Robredo’s political divorce from Duterte.

Until a month or so ago, my preference would have been for the Vice President to stay in the cabinet so that she can prepare for her constitutional role as successor if circumstances conspire for her to become president. I was hoping that other people could rise up to lead the opposition. That unfortunately has not happened because the two groups that could credibly play the role – the Liberal Party and the Makabayan coalition are both allies of the administration in the Senate and House of Representatives for the Liberal Party and in the latter for Makabayan.

With Robredo breaking from Duterte, I hope the Liberals in the Senate and the House now move to the opposition. For the country, they should give up their committee and leadership posts and stand ready to oppose Duterte in all legal and non-violent ways possible.

As long as the peace process with the NDFP is alive, we should not expect that from the Makabayan coalition and their allies. The stakes are too high not just for the left but for the country for that process to fail. But that should not stop the groups from the left from coalescing with other groups on the Marcos burial and on human rights. In the same way, the Liberal Party or those in the opposition should support the peace processes (both the NDFP and Moro processes) as their success would be good for the country and not just a Duterte win.

So there. It’s an exciting time for the country. With Leni Robredo out of the cabinet, and hopefully the Liberals leaving the Duterte coalition soon, we will have a robust opposition to the Duterte government when it does bad things like killing the poor or allow corrupt police officials to stay in their positions.

As for the Supreme Court case, I would tread very carefully if I were in the Robredo camp. I would monitor closely what is actually happening and not respond or react to rumors. Justices are very sensitive to criticisms and one or two votes could shift if some Justices perceive unwarranted criticism. From what I can gather so far, and based on precedent, the Marcos petition is years away from resolution. The key thing to watch here are the appointments Duterte will make to the Court and whether they will shift the balance of votes but even it did, it won’t get to the Court for quite some time. Having said that, to avoid surprises, vigilance is always a good thing in cases like this.

Watch out for my full analysis of the developing situation in my Eagle Eyes column on Tuesday.  (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Antonio “Tony” La Viña is a human rights and environmental lawyer from Cagayan de Oro City. He was a member of the Government of the Philippines Peace Panel that negotiated with the MILF from January-June 2010. He teaches Constitutional Law at the Xavier University in Cagayan de Oro City and at the Ateneo School of Government at the Ateneo de Manila University where he used to be Dean. This piece was first published on his Facebook wall. He can be reached at Tonylavs@gmail.com. Follow him on Facebook: tlavina@yahoo.com and on Twitter: tonylavs)