MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo believes President Rodrigo Duterte can change his decision on the hero's burial for former president Ferdinand Marcos if he hears "one great voice" of dissent.
"If we have one voice, we have a greater chance of being heard," Robredo said in a Rappler Talk interview on Friday, December 9.
She said coming together on the issue is important because Duterte believes there is only a minority of the population that is against Marcos' burial at the Heroes' Cemetery.
"Dapat ipakita natin sa kanya na mali siya dun na small percentage lang ito ng population," she said. (We should show him that he was wrong, that we are not just a small percentage of the population.)
Changing Duterte's mind, for Robredo, is also "still worth a try"given how he has shifted views on other pressing issues in the past like the Paris climate change pact.
"When things were explained to him he knew the consequences if we would not be a signatory to it," she said. "We have seen in the past 5 months that the President has backed down on several decisions already and it's still worth a try."
Unifying the opposition
Robredo, a long time human rights lawyer, has been very vocal against the state interment of the late dictator who happens to be the father of her political foe, former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.
She did not join rallies, she said, out of deference to the President because she was part of his Cabinet then. (READ: Robredo on ouster plot: I don't want to be president)
But since she resigned as Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) chair, Robredo is now willing to take the lead in unifying the opposition on key national issues, including the Marcos burial.
She, however, admitted that it will be difficult to unify the anti-Marcos protesters because of her political affiliation.
"I belong to one political party. For some people it's always difficult to separate my person [from] the party I belong [to]," she said.
"This is not a 'yellow' thing but it is something we feel so strongly about, and it is something [where] we need to be united as one," she said.
She called on the protesters to come together and stand behind one message because they would have "lesser chances of being heard" if they are perceived to be divided.
Different groups, different rallies
There have been various groups, including educational institutions, that have strongly expressed their indignation since the former strongman was buried surreptitiously on November 18. (READ: Robredo on Marcos: 'Hidden wealth, hidden abuses, hidden burial')
Separate rallies have been organized since. Last November 25, the Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses in Malacañang (Carmma) staged a massive rally at the Luneta. The Coalition Against the Marcos Burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (CAMB-LNMB), on the other hand, held their own grand rally on EDSA on November 30.
Carmma is linked with the progressive Left movement, while CAMB-LNMB is working with Akbayan, identified with the previous administration, and other groups of Martial Law victims.
The Carmma-led bloc earlier said that working together with the other bloc will be a "ticklish" move as the Aquino administration failed to decisively deal with the Marcoses just like other past presidents.
Despite the differences, Carmma convenor Bonifacio Ilagan spoke during the November 30 rally as a symbolic show of unity. The rallies were also both widely attended by schools and concerned citizens not belonging to any political party. – Rappler.com