She is the incumbent vice president and regarded as the leader of the opposition. She graduated from the University of the Philippines with an economics degree and became a lawyer while being the wife of Naga mayor (later Interior Secretary) Jesse Robredo and raising her children.
She worked for the Public Attorney’s Office and later for an NGO (Saligan) offering free legal services to poor clients and organizations.
After the death of her husband, Robredo was prevailed upon by supporters to run for representative even without money. She defeated a wealthy and powerful politician who was the patriarch of the political dynasty that ruled Camarines province for decades.
She was elected vice president in 2016, defeating her four male rivals in spite of having two percent ratings at the start of the campaign.
In the eyes of many, she has shown integrity, compassion and servant-leadership especially during the pandemic. In spite being portrayed as elitist, she has proven her love for the poor. She has a clear strategic vision and concrete platform to address the crises the country is facing. She is inclusive and consultative.
She is backed by a movement that emerged spontaneously and made up of various opposition groups, classes and sectors, including the clergy, religious and laity. A bulk of her support comes from the middle-class, the youth, and urban poor organizations, peasants, labor, etc.
She also has the broad support of groups regarded as rightist (Magdalo), left of center (Akbayan), and the left (Makabayan bloc). She is endorsed by various universities, civic groups, and the business sector.
This so-called Pink Movement is capable of coordinated nationwide mobilization. They are conducting a highly-organized people’s campaign with energetic supporters/volunteers who are engaged in social media and ground campaign (barrio to barrio, house to house, face to face). They are self-financed, or through crowd-sourcing, making up for the lack of funds.
She represents the new style of politics different from the traditional patronage politics. There are massive attendance in rallies held all over the country even in areas considered as bailiwicks of Ferdinand Marcos Jr and Sara Duterte (Northern Luzon, Mindanao, NCR).
In these rallies there is a consistent message of good governance that can bring progress and hope for the future.
Besides being projected as the leader that can bring light amidst the darkness and inspire others to do the same, two other archetypal figures are emerging: the loving mother and the warrior woman – Urduja. To most, she is just simply Leni – approachable, full of charm and charisma, competent and indefatigable.
With the momentum of her campaign, a bandwagon effect has started. Politicians allied with President Rodrigo Duterte and his daughter Sara are supporting her – Escudero, Salceda, Andaya, Rufus Rodriguez, Evardone, et al – and are promoting a Robredo-Sara Tandem (RoSa, KaLeSa).
She also received the support of the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrat chairman Jose de Venecia and his son who is deputy majority leader in the House of Representative and allied with Duterte. Even Partido Reporma of Pantaleon Alvarez, former ally of Duterte who earlier backed Lacson, has declared support for Robredo.
The volunteer groups of Isko Moreno – Ikaw Muna Pilipinas – have also shifted their support to her. Many governors and mayors are supporting her – even those competing locally for the same position. These defections to her side continue especially since the start of the campaign for local elections.
In the surveys, Robredo has climbed to the second place overtaking Moreno, Pacquiao and Lacson.
There is a significant upward trajectory and surge in her numbers. This could be due to the massive crowds in the rallies and the house to house campaign of her army of volunteers. It looks like the spirit of people power has started to manifest in these campaign in spite the harassment and red-tagging.
Unlike the surveys, the social media analytics (Google Trends, Facebook Analytics, etc.), which analyze searches and social media engagements are showing that as of March, Robredo leads in most regions.
Still, there are many who doubt if she can overtake Marcos Jr whose lead in the surveys remain wide. Many think that it would take a miracle for her to win.
Father Amado Picardal is a Redemptorist priest and human rights and peace advocate. He was executive secretary of the CBCP Episcopal Committee on Basic Ecclesial Communities. He also served as co-executive secretary of the
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