Some 1Sambayan members concerned over ‘premature’ endorsement

Xave Gregorio - Philstar.com
Some 1Sambayan members concerned over �premature� endorsement
Convenors of opposition coalition 1Sambayan pose for a photo with Vice President Leni Robredo in one of their meetings to unify the opposition against President Rodrigo Duterte's anointed bets.
1Sambayan / Release

MANILA, Philippines — Eight groups allied with 1Sambayan expressed concern on Friday that any endorsement by the opposition coalition of a presidential candidate is still "premature" and may hinder it from unifying non-administration bets for the 2022 elections.

1Sambayan has endorsed Vice President Leni Robredo, the de facto face of the opposition and of the minority Liberal Party, to run for president. She has yet to accept the nomination but has asked her supporters to pray with her over the decision.

"We are concerned that 1Sambayan’s role in contributing to unification will be hampered by the perception that it has sealed support for a particular candidate. In a situation that remains very fluid, all efforts at forging a single united slate should be exhausted and all options should remain open," the groups said.

Kilusang Mayo Uno, Tanggol Magsasaka, National Union of Students of the Philippines, Youth Act Now Against Tyranny, Alliance of Concerned Teachers, Promotion of Church People’s Response, Health Alliance for Democracy and Katribu issued this statement a day after 1Sambayan announced the endorsement.

The groups said that it would have been better if 1Sambayan endorsed a presidential candidate after the filing of candidacies before the Commission on Elections, when it would be clearer who the players in the 2022 elections are.

"This would also allow all unification efforts, including [Vice President Leni] Robredo’s to proceed unhampered,” they added.

The groups are part of the national democratic movement, which endorsed Sen. Grace Poe in the 2016 elections but also engaged with President Rodrigo Duterte in the early years of his administration. Disagreements on policy, including on peace talks with communist rebels and on the "war on drugs",  led to a deterioration of relations.

Robredo transferred her voter registration to Magarao town in Camarines Sur, which paves the way for a possible gubernatorial run in the province, but her spokesperson was quick to say that she still has not decided on her plans for next year’s polls.

No backing down

Still, former Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, one of the lead convenors of 1Sambayan, was confident that there is only a "remote possibility" of Robredo rejecting their nomination.

1Sambayan was formed last year in the hopes of forging unity among the broad forces that compose the opposition to find consensus candidates from the presidency down to the Senate who would go head-to-head with President Rodrigo Duterte’s anointed bets.

The coalition has been engaged in unity talks with various political personalities, including Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso, who has declared that he will run for president, and Sen. Manny Pacquiao, who has filed his candidacy for president.

Carpio said these discussions would continue even after they have endorsed Robredo, but with the goal of them withdrawing in favor of the vice president.

Whether this would happen remains to be seen as both Domagoso and Pacquiao have said that while they are open to continue unity negotiations, they would no longer be backing down from the presidential derby.

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