Leni Robredo could be disqualified as Presidential candidate for receiving foreign funds in 2013!

In 2013, Ma. Leonor “Leni” Gerona-Robredo, the widow of the late Jesse Robredo, was fielded by the Liberal Party as its official candidate for the congressional seat of the 3rd district of Camarines Sur. She challenged the incumbent, Nelly Villafuerte, wife of former Governor and Congressman Luis T. Villafuerte. It was a classic “David versus Goliath” electoral battle. Except that David was backed by the party in power and enjoyed the support of the police and the military. “David” also received a huge financial aid package from Americans led by Loida Nicholas-Lewis.

Robredo defeated Villafuerte by a landslide margin — 70,000 votes. Just as soon as the smoke of battle cleared, Villafuerte marched to the Commission on Elections with allegations of cheating and criminal violations committed by Robredo. One of the charges was that Robredo received foreign funding, which is prohibited by the Omnibus Election Code. Villafuerte presented solid evidence that Mrs. Lewis raised funds for Robredo in the United States. Among those that made donations were U.S.-registered corporations. Lewis herself is an American citizen who availed of the dual-citizenship law to regain her status as a Filipino. But at best, Lewis is half-American, half-Filipino. It must also be pointed out that her income comes from the profits of American businesses founded by her deceased husband.

The financial contributions made by Lewis was acknowledged by Robredo in her counter-affidavit. She insisted that it did not violate the law, however. Lewis was a holder of a Filipino passport. It is not known how she responded to the charge that American corporations also contributed money to her campaign. Apparently, Lewis is so influential that she could get her rich friends in America to help Robredo win with tons and tons of money.

The only bone of contention is whether those contributions fall under the definition of foreign funding. The case appears to have been put to sleep in the Comelec during the incumbency of its disgraced chairman, Andy Bautista. Villafuerte tried to bring it up against during the 2016 national and local elections. But her protestations was simply ignored; the yellows were still in power. Bautista was the skipper of the ship at the Comelec.

Fast forward to the present.

The case is hibernating in the Comelec. All that is needed is for the Villafuertes to seek for the resolution of the case. Alternatively, anybody can file a disqualification case against Robredo, using the evidence that the Villafuertes have submitted to substantiate the complaint.

To get a clue on how the Comelec views foreign funding for candidates, we can turn to the statement of Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon just a few days ago that a similar fund raising scheme started by Robredo’s camp was illegal. It’s simple logic: if it is illegal now, it should have been held illegal in 2013. Here’s the link to the ABS-CBN story on Guanzon’s statement (click here).

It looks to me I have opened the Pandora’s Box. There are so many skeletons of Robredo’s closet. And the ghost of Jesse Robredo will haunt her.

About Manuel "Boy" Mejorada
Manuel "Boy" Mejorada is a journalist and social media activist. A former Iloilo provincial administrator, he is now waging a crusade against corruption and narco-politics.

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