Philippine Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Gerona Robredo announced on Thursday, October 7, that she is running for president in the 2022 national elections.
“Buong-buo ang loob ko ngayon. Kailangan nating palayain ang ating sarili mula sa kasalukuyang sitwasyon,” she said during a media briefing in her office in Quezon City.
“Lalaban ako, lalaban tayo, inihahain ko ang aking sarili bilang kandidato sa pagka-pangulo sa halalan ng 2022,” said Robredo.
“Malinaw sa lahat ang hamon na kinakaharap natin, nakita na nating lahat ang pagsisinungaling at panggigipit na kayang gawin ng iba para maabot ang mga layunin nila,” she said.
“Nasa kanila ang pera, makinarya, isang buong istrukturang kayang magpalaganap ng anumang kwentong gusto nilang palabasin,” added the vice president.
“Pero hindi kayang tabunan ng kahit anumang ingay ang katotohanan,” she said.
“Kung parehong uri ng pamamahala at pareho ang pagkatao ng mga magwawagi sa araw ng halalan, wala tayong aasahang pagbabago. Dito tayo po-posisyon,” said Robredo, who is known to be a staunch critic of President Rodrigo Duterte’s deadly “war on drugs” that killed thousands of people.
Robredo has been under pressure from supporters and opposition groups to join the 2022 presidential race, but she has been well behind the front runners in opinion polls.
Analysts say the even-tempered former congresswoman could struggle.
The president and vice president are elected separately in the Philippines.
Robredo quit Duterte’s Cabinet less than six months after he was sworn in after a presidential aide told her she had been barred from its meetings.
Her decision to run for president came after Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr, son and namesake of the country’s former dictator, said on Tuesday that he would run for the top job.
Robredo narrowly defeated Marcos Jr. for the nation’s second-highest office in 2016, dealing a blow to the political aspirations of the powerful clan as they sought to rehabilitate their image.
In a statement, party-list Akbayan said next year’s election is “a battle between democracy’s best defender, and the offspring of past and present dictators.”
The group expressed its “full support” for Robredo “and commit to mobilize all our democratic socialist and progressive members, partner mass movements and communities to make her our country’s next president.”
The party-list said the vice president’s announcement is a “game-changer.”
“The Filipino voters will no longer be forced to settle for less,” said Akbayan.
“We now have a real democratic alternative who can stop the continuation of tyranny, win the fight against the pandemic and economic recession, and lead us back safely to the path of democracy.”
Marcos Jr — an ally of Duterte and a defender of the narcotics crackdown — fought a nearly five-year legal battle challenging the vote, but lost in February when the Supreme Court rejected the protest.
Marcos Jr. was in second place behind Duterte’s daughter, Sara, in a recent Pulse Asia Research poll, though she has denied plans to run.
Robredo was a distant sixth, trailing boxing great Manny Pacquiao and celebrity mayor Francisco Domagoso, who have confirmed they will seek the presidency; and Senator Grace Poe, who has not.
Most of the top candidates have supported the drug war, which is being investigated by the International Criminal Court as a possible crime against humanity.
Duterte has repeatedly attacked Robredo since taking power in 2016 on a promise to rid the country of drugs.
Among other things, she opposed Duterte’s plan to bring back the death penalty and his decision to allow the embalmed body of Ferdinand Marcos to be buried at the national heroes’ cemetery.
So far, more than 40 candidates have registered to run for president in the May election, but the field will narrow significantly in the coming months.
Election season kicked off this month, the candidates flocking to the offices of the elections commission to file their nominations.
The process launched a typically noisy and deadly seven months of campaigning for more than 18,000 positions, with the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic downturn caused by lockdowns expected to dampen the atmosphere. – with a report from Agence France Presse