Robredo doubts own poll ‘viability’
MANILA, Philippines — While she has yet to declare her bid for the presidency, Vice President Leni Robredo is acutely aware of how low her survey ratings are and says it is one of the things holding her back from making a decision on whether she should go up against President Rodrigo Duterte’s anointed successor in next year’s elections.
She also cited another factor for her hesitancy: the state of her political party, which would make it hard for her to launch a “decent presidential run.”
In a televised interview aired on Tuesday night, Robredo admitted that her low rating in a recent Pulse Asia survey about Filipinos’ preferred presidential candidates “[was] a big deal.”
The survey, conducted from June 7 to June 16, showed that out of the 2,400 respondents, only 6 percent of them would vote for her if the elections were held on the same day they were being polled.
The top pick was Davao City mayor and the President’s daughter, Sara Duterte, with 28 percent saying she was their choice.
Earlier, Robredo’s spokesperson, Barry Gutierrez, said that the 6 percent was “respectable,” considering that she had yet to announce her political plans for 2022, because she was focused on COVID-19 response initiatives.
“We remain confident [that] when, and if, she decides to run for president, the numbers will be there. The fight hasn’t started yet,” Gutierrez added.
But Robredo admitted that these numbers were an important metric of “viability,” or whether she would be able to effectively stage a decent run.
“If you look at [my] 6 percent, can I say I could run? If I do run, how will this affect the result of the election?” she said, adding that “we’d be having a different discussion if I was a sure win.”
“And you know, with the state of our party now, I don’t have the resources to launch a decent presidential run. So for me, before I make that decision, I want to be fully prepared. Not just for the work it entails—I think I’ve been ready for some time and I’ve long been preparing—but for the campaign itself. It will be difficult given the current political landscape.”
In previous interviews, Robredo acknowledged that from being the dominant political party during the term of former President Benigno Aquino III, the Liberal Party (LP) had since lost many of its members who, she jokingly said, could now fit into a Volkswagen.
In Tuesday’s TV interview, Robredo said that next year’s election was “very important.”
“I have been observing what has been happening, the surveys, the movements. It’s not a matter of whether I want to be president but what is in the best interest of the country,” she stressed.
This is not the first time she has fared poorly in a popularity survey. In 2016, when she was running for vice president under the LP, her awareness ratings were at 1 to 2 percent at the start of the campaign period. But she went on to defeat former Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
“My ratings were down so there was a lot of elbow room for me to improve my numbers,” Robredo recalled. “But even then it was a different situation, because I was an administration candidate. The infrastructure was there and [the] party was there.”
Now, Mr. Duterte’s supermajority in Congress and his violent crackdown on political dissenters have all but decimated not just the LP but the opposition in general—a reality that Robredo, as the party head, acknowledges.
With Sara Duterte poised to succeed her father, who says he would run as vice president in a bid to remain immune from suit, the stakes have never been higher.
And this was why “we can’t make rash decisions,” Robredo said. “I can’t just say, ‘Oh, I’m running for president,’ and have the [opposition] fall to pieces. We can’t last another six years [under] this kind of governance.”
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.