Opposition leader Leni Robredo runs for president

Xave Gregorio - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 3:37 p.m.) — Vice President Leni Robredo’s lengthy process of discernment is over and she has come to a decision: She is running for president in the 2022 elections, which she believes is crucial to ending President Rodrigo Duterte’s brand of leadership.

“Buong-buo ang loob ko ngayon: Kailangan nating palayain ang sarili mula sa kasalukuyang sitwasyon. Lalaban ako, lalaban tayo,” Robredo said in a speech on Thursday. “Inihahain ko ang aking sarili bilang kandidato sa pagkapangulo sa halalan ng 2022.”

(My resolve is strong: We need to free ourselves from the current situation. I will fight, we will fight. I am running as a candidate for president in the 2022 elections.)

Robredo, the de facto leader of the opposition, took aim at the “old” and “rotten” politics she said is prevailing, warning that no change can happen should the same people behind this kind of governance win in next year’s polls.

Uphill climb

The vice president, who previously said that her party, the Liberal Party, has been “decimated,” acknowledged that her presidential run will be an uphill climb as she does not have a strong political machinery unlike her opponents.

Still she is undeterred as she banked on her avid supporters whom she called on to go beyond their usual circles and expand their ranks.

“Hindi pa siya naga-announce ready na kami,” said Ian Singcua of the Solid Leni group. “Handa naman ang mga tao para sa kanya para suportahan siya, tulungan siya.”

(We were ready even before her announcement. The people are ready to support and help her.)

Robredo formalized her presidential run by filing her certificate of candidacy as an independent presidential candidate before the Commission on Elections past 3 p.m.

Marcos face-off

The announcement of her presidential bid comes just two days after her rival former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., son and namesake of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, said he is running for president in next year’s polls.

This would mark the third time that Robredo would face Marcos in a political contest.

The first time they faced off was during the 2016 vice presidential race, where Robredo emerged as the victor. Robredo won over Marcos again in the subsequent electoral protest lodged by the dictator’s son, which was unanimously junked by the Supreme Court.

The vice president has said that Marcos making a bid for Malacañang would be one of the reasons that would push her to run for president, along with being picked as the standard bearer of a united opposition.

Unity talks

Opposition coalition 1Sambayan has endorsed Robredo for president ahead of her announcement, confident that she would take on the challenge to join the race to Malacañang.

“It is a light of hope that comes at a time of great uncertainty: a country on its knees due to a failed pandemic response, a struggling economy, and a backdrop of the loss of lives and livelihood for the Filipino people,” the coalition said in a statement shortly after Robredo’s announcement.

1Sambayan and Robredo launched parallel negotiations with non-administration political players in the hopes of forging unity and building a single ticket that will go head-to-head with Duterte’s anointed candidates.

It is not clear what materialized from these talks, considering that some of the people they were in touch with, like Sens. Panfilo Lacson and Manny Pacquiao and Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso, have all announced their intention to run for president, narrowing the chances of unification.

In her speech, however, Robredo gave a snapshot of the unity talks, saying that she made it clear that she could give way, while some offered her to be their candidate and others offered her a position in their administration should they win.

“Ang tugon ko, hindi ito tungkol sa posisyon; hindi tayo nakikipag-usap para makipagtransaksyon. Ang pinakamahalaga, magkaisa kami—sa prinsipyo, sa pangarap para sa bansa, at sa landas na dapat tahakin tungo sa katuparan ng mga ito,” Robredo said.

(My response, this is not about position; we are not in talks for a transaction. The most important thing is for us to unite—in principles, in our dreams for the country, and the path that we need to take to fulfill these things.)



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