When Vice President Leni Robredo finally declared her candidacy for president last week, it was an announcement that everybody was waiting for and which brought great joy to millions of Filipinos who had gotten sick and tired of the excesses of the Duterte regime.
For a while, it seemed as if she was not really bent on running for president, with greater expectations that she would run for governor in Camarines Sur instead.
Had that scenario taken place, the disappointment would have been overpowering. Countless Filipinos would have been left with no choice but to vote for a candidate who had links to the outgoing administration.
It would not have mattered as they only had Ping Lacson, Manny Pacquiao, Isko Moreno, and Bongbong Marcos to choose from. If any of them became president, all the sins of the Duterte regime would have been swept under the rug.
With a President Leni Robredo, however, there would be a good chance that justice would be served to the tens of thousands of families victimized by the brutal drug war of the former Davao City mayor. And for the millions of Filipinos whose quality of life remained abysmal while cronies of the president got away with billions of pesos in kickbacks and dirty deals.
If life is fair, only Robredo deserves to be president.
In fact, there is a strong chance that she will make it based on the reaction to her candidacy. Civic leaders, the academe, the private sector and ordinary Filipinos could not hide their joy.
As one said, the groundswell of support for Leni for President had become a movement.
For those old enough to remember, it was reminiscent of the Cory Aquino for President era, when Filipinos united to send a signal to the dictator Ferdinand Marcos that his time was up.
And here is where a huge headache lies for the Robredo camp.
It’s long been known that former first lady Imelda Marcos wants nothing more than to see her only son return to Malacanang as president. Some say it is her dying wish.
The son and namesake of the dictator also knows that next year is his last chance to clear the Marcos name, which he will do by ordering the rewriting of all the history books used in Philippine schools.
At 64, he must go for it now, as by the next presidential election, he will be all of 70 years of age.
Thus, the Marcos clan is prepared to spend a huge chunk of the billions they amassed in hidden wealth to guarantee that Bongbong will win.
The bad news is that it could work.
For reasons that defy logic, the son of the dictator has a pretty substantial following. It was not enough to win the vice presidency in 2016, but close enough.
This time around, he is facing the same opponent who bested him and he will throw everything including the kitchen sink at Leni Robredo.
Of all the candidates, the Marcos camp will turn to trolls to try and affect how ordinary Filipinos feel and think about the martial law era, which is already being presented as a “golden age” in Philippine politics and the economy.
It’s all a lie, of course, but like it or not, people are still easily swayed by obvious propaganda.
What’s the saying? Tell a lie often enough and people will eventually accept it as the truth.
The Marcos camp can outspend the Robredo camp not only by 10 to one, but even up to 100 to one.
This is the only way that Robredo can lose. If a large enough chunk of the electorate is blinded by the lies peddled by the Marcos camp, she will be defeated.
On the other side of the equation, however, are the greater reasons why Leni will win next year.
The popular support is there. This was clearly seen in social media last week. Moreover, the first survey done in Cebu had Robredo beating Marcos by a mile, to the consternation of the Bongbong brigade.
The Marcos trolls can only go so far in selling their bet as the best choice in 2022. Eventually his record as a college dropout and a senator who achieved next to nothing in his single term in the upper house will come back to haunt him.
And pardon me while I bring religion into the political battlefield, but Robredo has the support of most Catholics, who represent some 85 percent of the population.
Actually, it is not the Roman Catholic Church which is behind her. As far as I am concerned, it is God Himself who is behind her.
Ok, ok. Some will say I am carrying things too far. But look back at the Cory vs Macoy battle. Even the Edsa Revolt had a religious fervor to it with so many priests and nuns being present at the former Highway 54.
The only thing missing is a present day version of Jaime Cardinal Sin, but I have little doubt that one will emerge. I suspect many know who I mean. He may have to return briefly from his job in the Vatican, but he should be back soon enough.
Again, another saying is apt. If God is with us, who can be against us?
There is no way in hell that Bongbong Marcos will receive the support of the Catholic Church, although he is still banking in the Iglesia ni Cristo, which is reportedly still undecided on who to commit their five million votes to, more or less.
Election Day is still a long way off, and anything can happen between now and then.
Hopefully, the momentum that began for Robredo last week continues all the way to May 9, 2022.
This time, I hope that all the losers concede gracefully.
No more recounts, electoral protests, and accusations of cheating, ok Mr. Marcos?