Robredo’s unity talks change tack as she pursues presidential bid

Xave Gregorio - Philstar.com
Robredo�s unity talks change tack as she pursues presidential bid
Vice President Leni Robredo speaks with reporters at the Quezon City Reception House on October 10, 2021.
Philstar.com / Xave Gregorio

MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo said Friday that while her lines remain open to other political players, she is no longer interested in closing ranks with non-administration politicians as she pursues a different strategy for unity after announcing her presidential bid.

“The focus now is not to unite the principals, but the people,” Robredo said in Filipino at a press conference. “It is not needed for us politicians to unite, but what is the most important is to give an alternative to a majority of the people where they can dream and feel hope again.”

Robredo’s unity talks previously focused on forging unity among non-administration politicians in the hopes of building a single ticket that would go head-to-head with and defeat President Rodrigo Duterte’s anointed bets.

But these negotiations, the vice president said, revealed that she and the politicians she spoke with did not see eye-to-eye on key issues.

“Mahirap ipilit ‘yung unity kung sa mga basic na prinsipyo, hindi kayo nagkakaisa,” Robredo said.

(It’s difficult to push for unity if you don’t agree on basic principles.)

Among these basic principles is her beliefs about the Marcos regime, which violated the human rights of thousands and plundered billions from government coffers. 

She said this was one of the reasons talks broke down with Manila mayor and presidential aspirant Isko Moreno Domagoso, who said he admires the late dictator but abhors human rights violations during his two-decade rule.

Aside from Domagoso, Robredo was also in talks with Sens. Ping Lacson and Manny Pacquiao who both ended up running for president.

But even with a vast field of candidates who are not aligned with the administration, Robredo is confident that this will not split the opposition vote as she claims that she and her running mate, Sen. Kiko Pangilinan, is the true opposition.

“Kami talaga ang oposisyon. Wala namang lumalabas na kapareho namin in the sense na mula umpisa nakipaglaban talaga,” Robredo said.

(We are the opposition. No one else like us has emerged in the sense that they fought from the very start.)

Shedding yellow

Robredo, chair of the Liberal Party, opted to run as an independent presidential candidate and shunned the signature yellow color of the once-ruling party that has been demonized throughout Duterte’s term.

The vice president explained that she ran as an independent bet as a “symbolic way” of showing that she is still open to forging alliances with other parties.

Still, Pangilinan, president of the LP, said they have committed to support her presidential bid even if she ran as an independent.

Robredo also revealed her initial Senate slate, which so far consists of politicians who have been endorsed by the LP.

These include Sens. Leila de Lima and Risa Hontiveros, former Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, former Rep. Teddy Baguilat (Ifugao) and human rights lawyer Chel Diokno.

But Robredo said more will be added to this lineup which will consist of people outside of LP’s circle.

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