“Whatever the outcome of the elections is, I think we won – we won in uniting a lot of people who share the same belief in the things that are happening in our midst,” Vice President Leni Robredo said in an interview after casting her vote in her hometown Naga City yesterday morning.
Opposition claims victory in uniting Filipinos
Helen Flores, Cecille Suerte Felipe (The Philippine Star) - May 14, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Regardless of the outcome of yesterday’s senatorial elections, leaders of the opposition said they felt triumphant for being able to “unite the people” on crucial issues in the country.

“Whatever the outcome of the elections is, I think we won – we won in uniting a lot of people who share the same belief in the things that are happening in our midst,” Vice President Leni Robredo said in an interview after casting her vote in her hometown Naga City yesterday morning.

The Vice President said she finds hope in volunteers and supporters who united to push for deserving candidates to the Senate.

“It was an uphill battle. But in the past several weeks we saw the passion of the volunteers,” said Robredo, who was among those who vigorously campaigned for the Otso Diretso senatorial slate.

The Vice President, however, said the “fight” continues even after the midterm polls.

“Of course it would be easier if many of our candidates will enter the Senate because we think that’s the most important battleground, but whatever the outcome… the fight continues,” she said.

On the eve of the elections, Robredo, who chairs the Liberal Party (LP), reminded the electorate of the importance of this year’s elections, especially of electing an “independent” Senate.

In an interview in Naga City, Robredo said she remained optimistic of the opposition bets’ victory.

She cited her own experience in the 2013 congressional elections and in the 2016 vice presidential race, when she said the “results exceeded their expectations.”

Robredo, who was a survey tailender then, ended up winning the vice presidency in 2016.

“In my heart, I’m hoping that the same miracle will happen (to Otso Diretso). I’m not losing hope,” she said.

LP president Sen. Francis Pangilinan, campaign manager for Otso Diretso, shared Robredo’s sentiment.

“Today is election day and regardless of the outcome, we have already won,” Pangilinan said in a statement.

“Eight candidates with sterling track records have offered themselves as our gladiators in this election battle; Catholic bishops and lay leaders have openly supported us; and tens of thousands, including young people and artists, have wholeheartedly volunteered their time, talent and money, going house to house, designing and printing their own campaign materials, writing and singing their own campaign jingles, shooting and uploading their own videos,” he said.

“We have flexed our democratic muscles and we know our strength. And all these are what we will take in the next battles, because there will be more. But then, there will be more amongst our ranks as well,” he said.

“This, our people’s fight, is just one of many since 2016,” said Pangilinan. He said it’s the opposition’s continuing struggle to right the wrongs committed by the administration, like the killings of suspected drug users and small-time pushers, the burial of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos in the heroes’ cemetery, threats to the Vice President, steady rise in the prices of fuel and food, the arrest and detention of Sen. Leila de Lima and the unnecessary debts from China, among others.

“There is victory, half victory and even losses. But it’s the people’s fight – there is participation of the people. All are attacks on our democracy and freedoms, on the poorest and the most powerless, and those who defend them,” he added.

In high spirits

Early yesterday, Otso Diretso candidates were in high spirits as they cast their votes in their respective polling places.

Former interior secretary Mar Roxas arrived past 6 a.m. at the Don Conrado Barrios Elementary School in Baybay, Roxas City.

Roxas, who marked his 62nd birthday yesterday, said his wish “is for our county to have peaceful and honest elections.”

“There’s a belief that you can’t tell how the ‘Arc of History’ will take its journey. But it will always take the path towards progress and a bright future. Of course, for my personal wish, to be successful in this election,” Roxas said.

When asked if he is confident of getting into the so-called magic 12, Roxas said his victory would be up to the voters.

“It’s not for me to tell. It’s best that the people themselves would speak. If this is a beauty contest, today is judgment day. We will soon find out after we’re through with the election,” he said.

Another Otso Diretso candidate, election lawyer Romulo Macalintal, attended a mass at the Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Philamlife Village in Las Piñas City yesterday morning before casting his vote.

Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano also arrived early at the voting precinct in his hometown Sipalay City in Negros Occidental.

Human rights lawyer Chel Diokno showed up with his family at the San Juan National High School in San Juan City.

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