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Robredo still undecided, making supporters uneasy

Screengrab of Vice President Leni Robredo at the Office of the Vice President

Screengrab of Vice President Leni Robredo at the Office of the Vice President. File photo / OVP

MANILA, Philippines — Frustration and anxiety are apparently spreading among the ranks of Vice President Leni Robredo’s supporters as they wait for her to decide whether she would seek the presidency.

“You cannot fully mobilize since there is no explicit declaration that she will run for president,” one senior organizer within Team Leni Robredo (TLR) told the Inquirer on the eve of the Vice President’s inclusion in the opposition coalition 1Sambayan’s list of nominees for president and vice president in 2022. “Since early this year, there are a lot of supporters who were already getting restless and wanted to organize. There was even an attempt to start a Quezon province chapter of the Leni for President Movement. She heard about it and scolded those who tried,” said the TLR source, who requested anonymity.

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‘United for 2022’

A loose gathering of private individuals held an online concert on Saturday night to launch “United For 2022” and also to mark the country’s 123rd Independence Day.

A teacher, health worker, laborer, overseas Filipino worker, student, housewife, artists, actors and others personalities were among those who declared support for the TLR’S advocacies.

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In his message to the online gathering, actor Enchong Dee, said that every TLR member contributes to helping the country.

“Imagine if we all help each other, we can lift up this country,” he said.

The TLR members said they were inspired by the Vice President and lauded her response to COVID-19 and other calamities.

They urged more Filipinos to sign up and join them as volunteers.

Many of TLR’s members started as volunteers in Robredo’s “lugaw” (rice porridge) and other outreach projects. One of them, Tiffany Mason, said the “umbrella group” now has 10,000 members.

Messaging, ratings

The TLR organizer who spoke with the Inquirer said they would be in a dilemma if Robredo suddenly announced that she won’t seek the presidency. This is because her messaging still focuses on pandemic response and other OVP projects.

There is also the concern about Robredo’s poll ratings as a possible presidential candidate, which hovers between percent 7 to 8 percent. This contrasts with her performance rating which is “not bad at all,” he said.

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Pulse Asia’s October 2020 poll showed Robredo with a 57-percent approval rating and a 50-percent trust rating. President Duterte, Senate President Vicente Sotto III and then Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano received higher ratings.

Should Robredo decide to run, the challenge to her supporters would be how to “bump up her numbers” to keep up with her higher performance and trust ratings, he said.

“There are many who are still unaware of the good things that she is doing. And while there are others who are content with her performance, they don’t regard her as a presidential candidate. It’s high time and hopefully with intensive activities, TLR can propagate the information that she is our candidate in 2022,” he said.

“But she’s a reluctant candidate and if she thinks another person can unite the opposition and this person is truly with the opposition, she would gladly give way. But I don’t see anyone,” he said.

On Saturday, the opposition coalition 1Sambayan said Robredo was one of its six nominees as possible candidates for president and vice president in next year’s elections. (See related story on this page )

The others named by 1Sambayan convenor and former Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario were former Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, Sen. Grace Poe, Rep. Eddie Villanueva, human rights lawyer Chel Diokno and Batangas Rep. Vilma Santos-Recto.

“There is a clamor among democratic forces, and we are not limiting ourselves to the ‘dilawan,’ who are rooting for a common candidate,” the TLR organizer said. Robredo took a while to decide whether she would run for vice president. Then presidential candidate Mar Roxas of the Liberal Party announced Robredo as his running mate at the last minute during a party convention at Club Filipino.

Cavite board member Kerby Salazar said a newly formed group called Katipunan ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino that will support Robredo’s candidacy would be launched in September.

Salazar, the group’s president, said it is composed of 400 young elected officials “from Ilocos to Davao” who also include members of Hugpong ng Pagbabago, the National Unity Party and Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan.

“We have members with influential family names who are willing to set aside their personal ambitions to invest time and resources to make sure that Ma’am Leni runs and wins,” he said.

—WITH A REPORT FROM NIKKA G. VALENZUELA
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TAGS: 2022 presidential elections, Leni Robredo
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