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An invitation to jump

“They are not taking it very well,” says Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo about her children. She says they are under a lot of stress because of the “invitation” for their mother to run for vice president in 2016, alongside the administration party’s standard bearer, Manuel Roxas II.

Robredo’s name first surfaced upon the death of her husband in August 2012. Interior and Local Governments Secretary Jesse Robredo perished in a plane crash off the coast of Masbate. The resulting groundswell of sympathy turned the nation’s attention on his widow, a lawyer who rendered pro bono service, shunned the limelight and simply provided support to her husband.

The widow initially rejected ideas of running for political office in 2013, but was prevailed upon to seek a seat at the House of Representatives. She won.

And now she is being wooed again, this time to be the running mate of Roxas.

Mrs. Robredo has, on several occasions, rejected such importuning. She recognized how daunting the task was, and she did not feel that she was ready to aspire to become the second-highest official of the land.  She also said she knew she did not yet have enough preparation to take on the job. She would run, but for reelection or at most, for the Senate. Did she not refuse to attend the launch of a movement exhorting her to run?

Many people lauded her firmness.  There goes somebody truly principled, they say. Leni Robredo knows exactly what her limits are. 

But the courtship has not ended. In the run-up to the filing of the certificates of candidacy next month, the lawmaker is still being asked to join the vice presidential race. The stalwarts of the Liberal Party cannot praise her hard enough and say she would even win against fellow Bicolano Senator Francis Escudero who has already declared he is seeking the number-two post.

Eventually, this will be a test of Robredo’s firmness, and her sincerity in saying that she is not yet ready for the challenge.  Have we not heard of other “reluctant” candidates who ran despite saying they would not because they “had to,” or because the “clamor was so strong?” They who make a show of grudgingly accepting the challenge perform poorly—just look at the present leader, a man who was swept into the presidency by the death of his mother and the perception that he is clean. Why, Mr. Aquino even complains of his lack of amorous affairs, his thinning hair and lack of time for his favorite hobbies because of the job we have imposed on him.

Who we need is somebody who knows exactly what they want—and what they don’t want. Mrs. Robredo may be as good and as immaculate as people make her out to be, but if she herself needs convincing she is ready, how can she convince the rest of us to vote for her?

She must be wary, too.  Those who sing her praises are likely not as concerned about her being fit for the job as they are with ensuring their political survival in the next six years. They just need a fresher, more trustworthy face to hide behind.

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