How to defeat a billionaire
HEART & MIND - Paulynn P. Sicam (The Philippine Star) - July 10, 2017 - 4:00pm

For a group of women christened the “Formidable Six,” a billionaire can be defeated one peso at time, by a people with a burning passion for fairness, truth and justice.

It was Nina Lim Yuson, the brain thrust of the iconic Museo Pambata, who first broached the idea of helping Vice President Leni Robredo to meet the required balance of P7.4 million that she must deposit to the Presidential Electoral Tribunal by this Friday, July 14, for the counter protest she filed against the pretender Bongbong Marcos whom she defeated in the vice presidential elections last year.

Marcos has challenged Robredo’s victory claiming he was cheated, and easily raised the first tranche of the P60-plus million deposit required by the PET to recount the votes he has questioned.  As a private person, he can receive contributions from his rich friends and supporters who, as reported, have helped him put the amount together. Not that he needs help, but it must be good PR to show big spenders digging into their pockets to help out. 

For her part, VP Robredo, being a government official, is not allowed to accept contributions or donations from the public.  Not being a person of means, for the first tranche, she had to borrow from her in-laws, the relatives of her late husband, the great Jesse Robredo. We are concerned about how she will pay for the second tranche due on Friday, July 14.

So, a group of women  — Mel Alonso, Karina Bolasco, Celeste Legaspi, Dinky Soliman, Nina Yuson, and myself — and a lot of other women leaders who for valid reasons must remain anonymous looked for a way to help raise the amount legally. With pro bono lawyer Atty. Pingky Bartolome-Bernabe advising us, we filed a petition before the PET to allow us to directly submit to the PET the amount we can raise to help defray the deposit required of the VP for the recount.

To clarify, VP Leni has nothing to do with this initiative, although we have informed her office of our intentions.  As our petition, which we hope will be taken up by the Supreme Court en banc, sitting as the PET, today, argues: 

“The Philippine Constitution provides that sovereignty resides in the people and that government authority emanates from them. All citizens not otherwise disqualified shall have the right of suffrage.

“As declared by the Supreme Court, an election ‘is the expression of the sovereign power of the people’ and ‘(t)he right of suffrage is enshrined in the Constitution because through suffrage the people exercise their sovereign authority to choose their representatives in the governance of the state.’

“The petitioners exercised their right of suffrage in the 2016 National and Local Elections.

“This exercise of sovereign authority derives affirmation, even protection, if not from the state, then by the voters themselves. This includes protection of the outcome of the election.

“It is in this context that the petitioners are respectfully intervening in this election protest, to the extent of submitting to the Honorable Tribunal…cash payment … as partial compliance for the deposit required by the Tribunal of Robredo.” 

We believe that by submitting a cash payment to the PET as partial compliance for the cash deposit required of VP Leni, we are protecting our right of suffrage.

The wonderful thing is, so many people have joined the cause, quietly, without fanfare. We launched “Piso Para sa Laban ni Leni” where citizens who want to help could drop in a plastic bottle a peso or more.  There are those who slipped in crisp thousand peso notes. We have also received funds through our bank accounts, Paypal and other means of money transfer. We do not hope to raise all of the P7.4 million deposit required, but every peso will help protect our precious votes.

Our petition before the PET  is a test case. It’s never been done before. In a way, it is a shot at the moon — suntok sa buwan.  But we hope to break new ground so that not only the moneyed can afford to protect their votes or question the results of elections. If the PET for some reason denies our petition, the funds we have collected — now upwards of P400,000, will be donated to Angat Buhay, the OVP’s  programs with partner organizations that are working with her in fighting poverty.

What do we six women have in common? We are all friends in TOWNS (The Outstanding Women in the Nation’s Service). While we do not carry the name of TOWNS in this initiative, we hold true to the spirit of the sisterhood:  service to the nation and people.

By the way, we’re still open to contributions.  Go to our Facebook page  — Piso Para sa Laban ni Leni  — for details on how you can help.

  • Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?
Login is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with