Gutierrez: Robredo promised talking to other sectors and is doing just that
MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo’s decision to meet with politicians outside of the opposition should not have come as a surprise, for she has always promised to do this: build a broad coalition for the 2022 National Elections.
Robredo’s spokesperson Barry Gutierrez said on Thursday that the purpose of her recent meetings with Senators Panfilo Lacson and Richard Gordon — two personalities exploring possible presidential bids — has not changed, which is to speak with others outside their circles.
“The guiding principle has been the same guiding principle from the start that the Vice President has declared that if we want to win in 2022, we have to start talking to people outside our own echo chambers. That’s the basic idea,” Gutierrez said in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel’s Dateline.
“If we want a strong run in 2022, if we want to have a candidate that will actually win and provide a change of direction after the 2022 elections, then we have to create the broadest possible basis of unity that we can. And that’s what she’s doing. She’s talking to these people. She’s exploring whether it will be, in fact, possible to establish some kind of unity with them,” he added.
According to him, Robredo cannot dismiss other parties that want to run in 2022, just as she said before that the opposition doesn’t have a monopoly on good intentions.
Because of this, Robredo is willing to take a seat with other groups, even if it does not ultimately lead to a coalition or a partnership.
“If not, then, you know, we go our own separate ways. But if we do not make the effort at all, if we immediately—write them off immediately and not even initiate a simple conversation, then we will only be talking to the people who have been with us ever since,” Gutierrez said.
“And the problem with that is [clear], we won’t have the numbers, not just for the elections but if you want to govern, you’re not just going to be talking to people who agree with you. You will be talking to a greater swath of the entire [Filipino] public and I think that’s all the Vice President is doing here,” he added.
As early as June, Robredo had told her supporters not to think that only the opposition can make good decisions for the country, pushing for unity among their ranks. She also said several times that she is open to having a single opposition candidate to challenge any candidate that the administration chooses.
But Robredo’s meeting with the senators who are part of the majority in the Senate was frowned upon by some, including former senator Antonio Trillanes IV. In a statement on Wednesday, Trillanes warned that he and the Magdalo group would not support Robredo if she gave way to the senators she met with.
However, Gutierrez branded Trillanes’ claims “extremely premature,” saying Robredo was merely talking to politicians and had not yet made any decision. Earlier, Gutierrez said it was insulting that Trillanes reminded Robredo that Lacson in particular pushed for the detention of her ally, Senator Leila de Lima.
Furthermore, Gutierrez advised Trillanes to speak privately rather than take to social media.
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