The Philippines continues to mourn the loss of Ako Bicol partylist representative Rodel Batocabe, who was murdered just 3 days before Christmas. While hundreds of supporters have come to say their final goodbyes to the solon, one notable missing name in the guest book is that of alleged vice president and fellow Bicolano Leni Robredo. According to a source close to the Batocabe clan, Robredo has yet to make an appearance at the wake.
It would be difficult for her to do that now anyway, since she left on Christmas for a family vacation in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Robredo, who also hails from Bicol, was quick to jump in and condemn the killing with a statement released the same day as the incident. Besides sharing a home province, Robredo and Batocabe attended the University of the Philippines Diliman and served in the 16th Congress together.
However, it seems that her sympathies extend only so far as an official statement to the press and not down South Road. Focusing on lip service versus actually attending the service for Batocabe, Robredo appears to have called it a day and a job well done after a few mentions of the need for a swift delivery of justice. Satisfied with her performance and contributions to the investigation despite giving nothing concrete to , Robredo returned to packing for her vacation.
It’s also not as if Robredo doesn’t know how to go to Bicol. While there are definitely more convenient commuting options, it’s a well known fact that she at least knows how to take a bus, of which there are many making daily trips to and from the Metro. There’s also an airport, in case traffic was a concern. It may not have direct flights to Hanoi, but it definitely has flights to and from Manila.
This is not to say that Robredo, the second highest official in the country, should not take time to celebrate the holidays. But between the murder and her departure from NAIA on Christmas morning, Robredo had a full two days to travel home and visit the wake of her “friend”. Despite the yuletide season and what was for sure terrible traffic, everyone else seems to have found a way to attend the wake. Even President Duterte, who lost big in Bicol, paid his respects on December 26. The President was accompanied by former Special Assistant to the President Christopher “Bong” Go. While there, Duterte raised from P30 M to P50 M the offered reward for information leading to the capture of the mastermind behind the killing.
This seems to be forming a sad new holiday tradition for the Robredo clan. Or insight into a strange phenomenon where tragedy in Bicol compels their passports into action.
The family Robredo were also out of the country for a vacation in the United States when Typhoon Nina ravaged several parts of the country, including Robredo’s hometown Naga, on Christmas Day 2016. Robredo said they tried to cut their trip short to return to the Philippines, but tickets home were difficult to book thanks to the December peak season. The family returned on a New Year’s Eve flight.
Maybe next year just plan for a staycation.