For the past 30 years, the Filipinos have seen two women in the Presidential seat (Cory Aquino and Gloria Macapacal Arroyo) and one female Vice President (GMA as well). And as Senator Serge Osmeña III has pointed out, we are currently on the verge of seeing two women again, possibly occupying the two highest elective positions in the lands at the same time.
This is not a far-fetched possibility, especially with the recent survey numbers of Senator Grace Poe Llamanzares and Rep. Leni Robredo. Llamanzares has had consistently strong numbers for some time. But it’s a different case for Robredo. Her numbers started at something like 1% to 4% when her vice presidential candidacy was announced but are now in the 20s.
The frontrunners in the Vice Presidential race – Senators Chiz Escudero and Bongbong Marcos – are now within striking distance of Robredo. Buoyed by the dramatic leap in her numbers, she now exhibits great confidence that she can, indeed, beat her two male rivals. There is however a great deal of study to be performed, but Robredo and her volunteers – both adult females and men – now have sound reason to be more than hopeful.
A vote of women
Election after election, and for most of its history, the leadership of the country have been occupied predominantly by men. Unknown to many, however, female voters have consistently outnumbered male voters, although by slim margins.
For what it may imply, even so, this development becomes important not just for the Bicolana lawmaker herself, but for the nation as a whole. Because over and above this demographic fact is the utter reality that the Philippines, unfortunately, has not been able to maximize the positive potentials of having more female leadership.
It must be made clear, though, that this is not a battle of the sexes. This is just pushing forward and recognizing the need to harness the energy, the boundless patience and the innate creativity of women in the national quest for real societal change. And for deeper commitment by the regime to employ more women in postures of leadership.
Relevant to this, what do the strong numbers of Llamanzares and Robredo’s rise in the surveys suggests? At the rattling least, they show that a larger number of women now realize that it’s time for them to be even more actively involved in both politics and in the search for meaningful and persistent changes in their residential areas.
It may also be asked: didn’t this already exist with the two past female Presidents? No. At least not in the context that people may have wanted, or anticipated. The fact is that our two female former Chief Executives both came from very influential and wealthy households. Both of them also came from very political backgrounds.
On the other hand, Llamanzares, and especially Robredo are different. Robredo, not only carries degrees in legal philosophy and economics, she has also defended the rights of adult females in her state and made towards community development – even before she went into public office!
This view of her past may be the grounds for her recent strong standing. She has been able to show that political pedigree or one’s money does not determine one’s strength in the polls. This can also mean that the Filipina voter now puts more importance in what a person has already done and continues to do. Politicians usually like to talk about what they want, or plan to do. In Robredo’s case, she talks about what she’s already done.
It is reassuring therefore, that Robredo has actually made her own contributions in this regard, especially in her capacity as a lawyer. It likewise appears that people are looking for a fresh face in public service, for somebody with no background involved in a past marked with violence or corruption and larceny; or one with no record of jumping to the other side of the political fence for political expediency. They want an authentic, honest to goodness public servant who will do exactly that – serve. Less of the politicking; just concrete and genuine action.
Who do we see?
There was this photo of her waiting, alone, for a bus to her home province. It gained positive notice among a bunch of citizenry. This contrasted sharply from the image of the typical Philippine politician – riding in an expensive car, clad in expensive clothes, laden with jewelry and accompanied by a retinue of bodyguards
This is something that the current electorate seems to be looking for in a candidate – simple, modest, unassuming. Possibly also capturing a positive public perception for her is her statement that she has no intention of pursuing the Presidency unlike her two main rivals – Marcos and Escudero. She just wants to focus on the job of a Vice President and put all her energy into it.
Robredo actually tried to stay out of the limelight, opting instead to defend the rights of women and the marginalized in the courtroom even as her husband gained national prominence for his style of responsive governance. She adopted a low profile while pushing for greater women’s empowerment, through such means as having their own means of livelihood to achieve financial independence.
She is one credible, indisputable argument for having more women in positions of power in the government.