2022 Philippine Elections

Internet glitch at KBP forum gives a peek into Leni Robredo’s crisis management skills

Mara Cepeda
Internet glitch at KBP forum gives a peek into Leni Robredo’s crisis management skills

BEHIND THE SCENES: Vice President Leni Robredo and her team are working to address the technical difficulties during the 'Panata sa Bayan: The KBP Presidential Forum', aired live simultaneously on different platforms today, February 4. VP Leni, the only female Presidential candidate, is joining the forum from a borrowed office near the airport, as she and her team are scheduled to fly to several Odette-stricken areas to visit the affected families later in the day. The Vice President apologizes for the intermittent signal which is dropping her from the online call for the forum. Photo by Jay Ganzon/OVP

Photo by Jay Ganzon/OVP

Leni Robredo, who owned up to her Wi-Fi and scheduling miscalculations, shows how she keeps her commitments, her priorities, and that she has no shortage of accountability
Internet glitch at KBP forum gives a peek into Leni Robredo’s crisis management skills

Imagine committing to participate virtually in a live broadcast carried by over 300 TV and radio stations nationwide – an event that may help get your message across to more people – and just as the program begins, you suddenly find out that your internet connection is spotty.

It would seem like a nightmare for most people, perhaps enough to make them visibly frazzled, but Vice President Leni Robredo somehow managed to pull through during the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas’ (KBP) presidential forum – giving the public a glimpse of how she might handle a sudden crisis.

Viewers had an inkling that something was amiss on Robredo’s end when she had no video while she presented her platform at the start of the program. Her audio was breaking too, an all-too familiar sign of poor internet connection. 

The presidential aspirant’s internet signal got so weak that the panelists at the forum had to skip her thrice in the Q&A portion. Meanwhile, her supporters were raging on social media, wondering aloud why her camp chose an area with a weak signal.

When her team managed to get her back online, the Vice President remained calm and collected. She did not seem affected by the fact that her audio and video were not in sync, as she elaborated on her platform hinged on an honest and transparent government

Person, Human, Hand

Behind the scenes, Robredo’s staff scrambled for ways to make sure their boss would be able to join the program, and somehow made it work.

The lone female presidential aspirant was later seen holding a landline phone receiver, which she apparently used to help listen to the questions being asked by the panelists via a teleconferencing app on her laptop.

Not once did Robredo mention her rival Ferdinand Marcos Jr., but she seemed to allude to the penchant of the dictator’s son to skip critical presidential interviews when she delivered her closing remarks. 

True leadership is stepping up and showing up, may eleksyon man o wala, kandidato man o hindi…. Madalas akong sinasabihan, ‘Mahina ka kasi babae ka.’ Pero ni minsan wala akong hamon na inatrasan,” Robredo said. 

(True leadership is stepping up and showing up, whether there’s an election or not, whether you’re a candidate or not…. I’m often told, “You’re weak because you’re a women.” But not once did I back out from any fight.)

‘My fault alone’

Aware of the complaints from Robredo’s supporters about the Vice President’s weak internet signal, her spokesperson, Barry Gutierrez, issued a statement and said the Vice President’s supporters can blame him for what happened. The Vice President, however, said after the forum that she alone was responsible for the gaffe.

Robredo said that her staff had advised her to cancel all her Friday engagements for the KBP forum, but she still wanted to honor her other commitments: her pre-planned trip to typhoon-devastated Siargao and Dinagat Islands that same day. She didn’t want to delay the turnover of housing materials to homeless residents still reeling from the calamity.  (READ: A month after Typhoon Odette, Dinagat governor still lives in tent)

It was the reason why Robredo had to borrow an office for the forum, the location close to the airport so she can still make her flight after. In her bid to honor all her commitments that day, she had to sacrifice a reliable Wi-Fi connection as well as a better backdrop. Her background was just a random office shelf, too simple compared to the carefully planned backdrops of her opponents

“I apologize for the bad connectivity during the forum. The fault is all mine…. Maraming (A lot of) lessons learned. We will do better next time,” Robredo tweeted.

A lesson learned the hard way indeed, but Robredo not only rose above the mini-crisis but also showed how she keeps her commitments, her priorities, and more important, that she has no shortage of accountability. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.