Philippine VP Declares Run as Opposition’s Presidential Candidate

Basilio Sepe and Jojo Riñoza
Manila
2021-10-07
Share
Philippine VP Declares Run as Opposition’s Presidential Candidate Vice President Leni Robredo, leader of the Philippine political opposition, declares her candidacy for the May 2022 presidential polls, during a speech in Manila, Oct. 7, 2021.
Jason Gutierrez/BenarNews

Vice President Leni Robredo filed candidacy papers on Thursday and announced her run as an opposition candidate in next year’s Philippine presidential election, joining a crowded field.

Filipino voters elect their president and vice president on separate tickets. Holders of the two offices can come from rival parties or partisan factions, as is the case with the incumbents, President Rodrigo Duterte and his deputy, Robredo.

“I offer myself as a candidate for the presidency in the 2022 elections,” Robredo, an opposition powerhouse, said during a 20-minute speech in Manila as her family, friends, and supporters surrounded her.

The 56-year-old vice president, lawyer, and mother of three said she was reluctant at first to enter the presidential polls, but realized that “the lack of good governance” amid the COVID-19 pandemic had forced her to forego retirement from politics.

“We should change not just the surnames of those in power. But the corruption, the incompetence, [and] the lack of compassion, must be replaced by competence and integrity in leadership,” said Robredo, who was dressed in light blue with a pink ribbon pinned to her blouse.

She later filed paperwork for her candidacy at a Manila hotel where election officials are receiving nominations. Robredo is running under the Liberal Party, with its president, Sen. Francis Pangilinan, as her running mate.

The country of 110 million will hold a general election in May to choose a successor to Duterte and Robredo, as well as fill 12 Senate seats, all 316 House seats, and some 18,000 official positions ranging from governors to mayors and town councilors.

Robredo joins an already packed presidential race. So far, the field includes Ferdinand E. Marcos Jr., the son and namesake of the late former Philippine dictator; world boxing champ Manny Pacquiao, who is now serving as a senator; popular Manila mayor Francisco Domagoso; and Sen. Panfilo Lacson, a former national police chief.

Candidates have till Oct. 8 to file documents for being listed on the ballot, but those who have filed their candidacy papers have until Nov. 15 to withdraw or change their candidacies.

Duterte, who is limited by the constitution to a single term as president, had initially said he would run for vice president in the 2022 elections. But on Oct. 2, he announced that we would retire from politics next year, as he endorsed his long-time aide, Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go, for election to the vice presidency.

Duterte’s feisty daughter, Sara Duterte-Carpio, meanwhile has filed papers for re-election as mayor of Davao City. But she could still change her mind on the last day in the candidacy filing season.

supporter-Leni.jpg
A supporter of Vice President Leni Robredo stands by her poster as the politician gives a speech announcing her candidacy for the 2022 Philippine presidential election, in Manila, Oct. 7, 2021. [Jason Gutierrez/BenarNews]

Counterweight

In the Philippines, vice presidents have taken a different role, and often serve as a counterweight to the president. In Robredo’s case, the calm and soft-spoken Robredo has criticized and clashed with President Duterte, who is known for his brash style and for profane outbursts, over his administration’s bloody war on illegal drugs.

“You are not really qualified to run as president,” Duterte told Robredo in February when his deputy likened his demand for the United States to pay Manila, if Washington wanted to renew the bilateral Visiting Forces Agreement, to extortion.

“If, by an unfortunate chance, you become the president, please study more. I think that you need a refresher course in law,” Duterte said at the time.

Robredo first ran for public office in 2012, after the death of her husband, an interior secretary. Last week, a newly formed opposition coalition, made up of political parties and civic groups opposed to Duterte, nominated Robredo as its presidential pick.

On Thursday, she said she had consulted with many allies during a lengthy “discernment process” and “had not planned to run.” But then she came to understand that they needed to unite in a common front.

“There was no room for ego or self-interest in this process… a decision whether to run for president, or not, cannot be based on ambition or outside prodding,” she said, vowing to tackle allegations of corruption and incompetence that have hounded the Duterte administration.

“The lack of good governance lies at the root of our many problems. This needs to end,” Robredo said.

The challenge would not be easy because, she said, her political foes “have the money, machinery, an entire infrastructure that can spread whichever story they choose to spread.”

“But no amount of noise can ever drown out the truth … I will fight for you all until the very end. I will put everything on the line. I will give everything I have to give,” Robredo said.

If she wins, Robredo would become the third woman to lead the Philippines, after Corazon Aquino in 1986 and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2001.

Add comment

Add your comment by filling out the form below in plain text. Comments are approved by a moderator and can be edited in accordance with RFAs Terms of Use. Comments will not appear in real time. RFA is not responsible for the content of the postings. Please, be respectful of others' point of view and stick to the facts.

View Full Site