March is National Women’s Month, but you can always count on some privileged men to spoil the celebration with their pettiness.

Speaking on a radio program, Cavite Rep. Jesus Crispin “’Boying” Remulla (7th District) claimed that a certain politician paid their supporters to attend a campaign rally in General Trias.

“In the province of Cavite, there’s a politician that has been paying P500 to anyone that will attend [the rally],” Boying said in Filipino. “You know they are not locals because of their uniforms; they’re assembling them. Their uniforms are pink, it’s so obvious.” 

Remulla further said that the students who attended the demonstration looked like activists and leftists trained by the National Democratic Front, only this time they were donning pink bandanas.

Without a doubt, the politician in question is Vice President Leni Robredo. She was the only electoral candidate that recently staged a rally in the country’s second most vote-rich province (around 2.30 million voters). Moreover, her campaign colors are unmistakably pink.

But the grave point of concern here is anything but rose-colored: it’s Remulla’s dull, brash, and duplicitous line of reason—if the congressman even possesses one.

Regarding the half-a-thousand payout, by calculation Robredo would have had to withdraw nearly 23 million pesos to pay the estimated 47,000 that attended her Cavite tour. That’s almost twice her net worth (11.9 million) in 2020 according to her latest Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth.

Robredo, who has been vocal about wealth transparency among public officials, cannot possibly dream of spending such an amount of money just to buy attendees and on top of mounting a nationwide campaign. Otherwise, the Comelec, and even the Commission of Audit, would have flagged her by now.

But perhaps most contentious is Remulla’s insinuation that his very constituents are malleable enough to be bought out by politicians if the price is right. Not only does he demean the people of Cavite, but also his dignity as a public official in the kind of political ideology he advertises: one dependent on unsubstantiated claims and founded on dynastic power to maintain a foothold on the people. 

Indeed, Remulla deliberately chose to perpetuate the culture of disinformation, which has marred Philippine politics in the last six years, in the hopes of securing those touted “800,000 votes” for fellow political dynasty proponent Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr., a promise made earlier by none other than lawmaker’s own brother, Cavite Governor Jonvic Remulla.

Not long after, presidential aspirant and Caviteño Sen. Panfilo Lacson took to Twitter to express concern about the same “politician” (he didn’t name names) for “inciting” a coalition government with the Communist Party of the Philippines, New People’s Army, and National Democratic Front as part of their plans if they win the executive seat. It’s obvious, however, who he was pertaining to when he attached a news report about Robredo’s Cavite rally in his tweet.

The Robredo People’s Council-Cavite, the rally’s organizers, has since decried the bayaran allegations and red-tagging done by Remulla and Lacson and called them out for their “irresponsible and damaging” remarks, especially to the young volunteers that attended.

The democratic socialist political party Akbayan, which has endorsed Robredo, released a statement throwing support for her Cavite and denying her ties with armed non-state actors like the CPP-NPA-NDF. 

In the first place Remulla and Lacson should not look far in their red-tagging mania. They should look at Malacañang whose incumbent got into power with the help of the reds in 2016. And that’s the reason why there were leftists in the first cabinet of the president. This shows that fascists and communists are birds of the same feather: both are socialists and both worship naked power that ruthlessly employ either for base personal or blind ideological ends.

Why is it that in the 21st century it’s still difficult to believe in women, especially women who aspire for positions of power? When women show success and deliver on their promises, there’s almost always at least one man waiting on the sidelines to discredit them or twist the narrative.

Remulla and Lacson probably won’t admit it, but the issue lies not in Robredo nor in her campaigning abilities: it’s in their fragile ego that simply cannot accept a woman beating them in their own playing field in this day and age. That’s why they resort to outmoded, backward-thinking tactics like disinformation campaigns and, even more dangerous, red-tagging.

We have historically come a long way to ensure that women are given equal rights and opportunities in society—and this extends to their dignity and freedom to run for the highest office in the country or any position for that matter. 

The author Virginia Woolf sums up this enduring struggle in her seminal essay, “A Room of One’s Own”: “The history of men’s opposition to women’s emancipation is more interesting perhaps than the story of that emancipation itself.”

If women are now freely allowed to have rooms for themselves, then women must also be free to campaign without prejudice from anyone.


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