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Allies to Leni: Time to decide

/ 05:34 AM September 24, 2021

Vice President Leni Robredo—INQUIRER FILE PHOTO / NINO JESUS ORBETA

With only a week left before the official filing of certificates of candidacy for the 2022 elections, opposition group Magdalo urged Vice President Leni Robredo to finally declare whether she intended to seek the presidency.

Magdalo chair Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV said the “unity talks” espoused by Robredo among opposition groups had become moot with the recent declarations of Senators Panfilo Lacson and Manny Pacquiao and Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso of their presidential candidacies.

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“In the past few months, the whole opposition allowed Vice President Leni to go through her thorough decision-making process,” the former senator said in a statement. He said the opposition forces respected and understood her stance because the decision to run for president was not easy.

“But we believe that enough time has passed for her to decide on what is best for the country,” Trillanes said. “We, the opposition forces united behind VP (Vice President) Leni, are ready to push for her candidacy for president. We are convinced that she will win.”

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Trillanes also assailed Lacson, Pacquiao and Moreno, saying they were not genuine members of the opposition and had long decided to seek the presidency.

Robredo’s office had yet to respond to the Inquirer’s request for comment at press time.

On Wednesday, following Moreno’s official declaration of his presidential bid, Robredo’s spokesperson Barry Gutierrez told reporters to “chill” as she “will make her own announcement in due time.”

Ready to fill gap

It was not the first time for Trillanes and Magdalo, a political party composed of soldiers who staged the botched Oakwood mutiny in 2003, to urge Robredo to rise to the challenge of a presidential candidacy in 2022.

The Vice President’s reticence has also led the former senator, a vocal critic of the administration and a thorn in President Duterte’s side, to seek the support of the opposition coalition 1Sambayan for his own presidential run.

Trillanes said Magdalo was ready to “fill the gap in leadership” should Robredo choose not to run for president.

“We need to answer the fear of the majority—if Robredo would lead the genuine opposition through her presidential run, or if she would give way to others to continue the fight toward real change,” Trillanes said. “We are not rushing but we also should not be behind in the public conversation.”

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But Robredo remains mum on her political plans. Earlier, she expressed the need for a unified opposition that would have a fighting chance against administration candidates.

She met with Lacson, Pacquiao and Moreno on separate occasions before they each formally announced their intention to seek the presidency.

In July, Trillanes accused the Vice President of giving way to Lacson. Her camp denied it.

Going through process

Like Robredo, 1Sambayan, which shares her goal of a unified opposition, is also yet to decide on its official nominees.

“We are still going through our process,” 1Sambayan convener Howard Calleja said in an interview on Thursday. “At this point, we are still considering VP Leni, Mayor Isko, Sen. Sonny Trillanes, and, although they haven’t agreed to join, we are open to Senators Pacquiao and Lacson, in the spirit of unity for the country.”

The coalition launched an internal survey to finalize its slate. It began on Sept. 12 and is due to end on Sept. 25.

According to Calleja, 1Sambayan counts at least 3 million members, representing 123 organizations and coalitions, 47 chapters nationwide and 22 chapters abroad.

With the survey ending this weekend, it expects to come up with its final nominees before or in October, or until the period of substitution in November, he said.

But with its potential candidates declaring their own bids for the presidency, does 1Sambayan expect anyone to give way?

Calleja said communication lines with potential nominees remained open.

Official acceptance

“When we talk to all these individuals, it is evident that everybody’s ambition can be subservient or secondary to service to the country,” he said. “I hope and pray and look forward to the magnanimity of these candidates to unify at this end, that at the end of the day it will be for the greater good of the Filipino people.”

Meanwhile, the President on Wednesday signed his certificate of nomination as vice presidential candidate from a faction of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).

Duterte’s signing of the certificate in Davao City signifies his official acceptance of his nomination, PDP Laban secretary general Melvin Matibag said in a statement.

“We are happy that the President heeded the clamor of the grassroots—the real grassroots—of our party,” Matibag said.

As to whether Duterte’s vice presidential run is final, his spokesperson Harry Roque said the public should wait for the official filing of the certificates of candidacy and the deadline for the substitution of candidates.

“Let us see what will happen on Oct. 8 and Nov. 15, which, if I’m not mistaken, is the last day for substitution,” Roque said at a press briefing.

Questions about the finality of Duterte’s candidacy are being raised because his entry into the 2016 presidential race was a last minute move.

After declaring that he would not seek the presidency, Duterte substituted for Martin Diño, the PDP-Laban candidate. —With a report from Leila B. Salaverria

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TAGS: 1Sambayan, 2022 elections, Leni Robredo, opposition, President, Trillanes, VP
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