In Duterte country, volunteer groups try to win some votes for Robredo | Inquirer News
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In Duterte country, volunteer groups try to win some votes for Robredo

/ 07:09 PM November 16, 2021
Robredo

Vice President and presidential aspirant Leni Robredo during a press conference on Monday, November 8, 2021. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO / GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE

MANILA, Philippines — Over a month since Vice President Leni Robredo announced her intention to run for president in the 2022 national elections, various grassroots organizations have already shown their support for her possible candidacy by launching their respective campaigns.

Robredo herself admitted that her campaign has been generated by the people, so much that their motif — the color pink — has been attributed to her supporters’ choices.

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In fact, the running joke has been that naming these groups have been easy as picking out a particular sector of society and then placing the words “for Leni” afterward: so you have the more serious Lawyers for Leni, Quezon for Leni, LGBTQIA+ for Leni, and the quirky ones too, just like Singles for Leni or Marupok (Fragile) for Robredo.

But it appears that the strangest of things is not yet over after another group launched their organization on Tuesday: the group, dubbed Davao for Leni, aims to bring people living in Davao City and nearby towns to vote for the Vice President.

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It may be a longshot, considering Robredo has criticized President Rodrigo Duterte, the longtime mayor of the city and because Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio is also running for vice president under a different ticket, but organizers think it is worth a try.

Ex-DDS

Lawyer Meong Cabarde, the coordinator of APILA at Ateneo de Davao University, speaks to the group in a Davao for Leni online forum about the reasons for setting up the group in an environment that could prove hostile.

Cabarde said during Tuesday’s program that it was a collective effort of people trying to effect change.

“I’m sure marami ang nagtaka no, how come we were able to organize this group, right at the very home turf of the current administration.  Many were appreciative, many were also reminding us of our safety and security, but driven primarily by our desire for change and hope, and for what is right and true, we came together as a movement and we’re constantly growing as each day progresses,” he said.

During the group’s presentation, it was revealed that the Davao for Leni was actually composed of two groups that came together to back Robredo’s presidential bid.  One of the groups was volunteers — including former so-called Diehard Duterte Supporters or DDS, who criticize the President.

“Kami ay hindi magkakakilala, at nagkita-kita lang sa online assembly ng mga volunteers.  Karamihan sa amin ay mga kabataan, nakakatuwang isipin na ang iba sa amin ay mga ex-DDS na naghahangad ng pagbabago sa kasalukuyang pamamahala,” the group said.

“Gumawa kami ng FB page para baguhin ang kwento at ipakilala si VP Leni sa Davao Region.  Ang unang mga naging post namin, ay kwento ng bawat isa kung bakit si Leni o kung ano ang turning point kung bakit naging si Leni, para sa mga ex-DDS,” it added.

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The second group was the Konsensya Davao, an organization of human rights workers, women rights advocates, and other civil society leaders in the city.

“Ang pangalawang grupo ay mga lider at kasapi ng Konsensya Davao, karamihan sa amin ay mga development workers, women’s rights activists, human rights activists, guro at health professionals,” the group noted.

According to the group, they are proof that not everyone in Davao supports the Duterte administration, as they have also deployed candidates that would challenge the family’s grip on the city.

“Kami rin ang nagplano at sumuporta sa paglulunsad ng alternatibong kandidato para sa lokal na eleksyon sa Davao sa 2022.  Mula sa maliit na grupong ito, kami ay nagpakilala, nakipag-usap sa mga kamag-anak, kaibigan, katrabaho, mga likers at followers sa FB page, at nag-organisa bilang Davao for Leni movement,” the group explained.

“Kami ang nagpapatunay na hindi lahat ng Davaoeño ay DDS — ang kasaysayan at saksi at magpapatunay na marami sa amin ay pumanig, at pumapanig sa tama, sa katotohanan, sa katarungan, lalong lalo na para sa mga mahihirap at naapi.  Ito ay dahil sinisikap naming isabuhay ang radikal na pagmamahal,” it added.

Why Davao

Robredo’s running mate in the 2022 elections, Senator Francis Pangilinan, explained that it is important to launch campaigns even in areas that are not necessarily expected to deliver so many votes for them.

Case in point, Pangilinan said, is Robredo’s move to campaign in Ilocos provinces back in the 2016 vice presidential race, when he was up against former senator Bongbong Marcos.

Ilocos Region is considered as a bailiwick of the Marcoses.  Pangilinan noted that Robredo got around 200,000 votes in the Ilocos Region, which may appear small but means a lot considering that Robredo edged Marcos by a slim margin of 260,000 votes.

“I remember Vice President Leni when she ran in 2016. [Interestingly] enough, people were telling her not to go to Ilocos, precisely because it’s a Marcos country, but she went anyway,” the senator told those present at the Davao for Leni forum.

“And interesting enough, she was able to get a little over 200,000 votes in Region I, in Ilocos Region, and lo and behold, she won by 260,000 votes.  So every vote counts, every effort will be precious, and we will look for those votes everywhere, even in Davao City.  Every vote counts,” Pangilinan added.

The group has over 19,000 likes on its Facebook page and has some notable community members supporting them — like Nuelle Duterte, the President’s own niece. She has been critical of his administration.

“Hello, ako si Nuelle Duterte mula sa Davao City.  Bakit si Leni?  Dahil marunong siya mag-prioritize at umaksyon agad pagdating sa emergencies,” she said.

Robredo and her campaign manager, former senator Bam Aquino, failed to join the meeting buy they provided messages of support and appreciation for working despite the odds stacked against them.

“We’d like to thank you po for all of your hard work, for all of your volunteerism, alam po namin na hindi po madali ang landas na tinatahak natin, but alam ko rin po na alam ninyo na ang bawat boto, napaka-halaga.  At sa susunod po na eleksyon, every vote will count, kaya ‘yong bawat po na kababayan po natin, makukumbinse po nating tumulong kay Vice President Robredo ay napaka-halaga po talaga,” Aquino said.

“Syempre lalo ring nakakataba ng puso seeing this level of support from Davaoeños such as yourselves.  Mahaba-haba pa ang labang ito, pero tuloy lang tayo.  Sabi ko nga, tumindig kayo dahil kasama niyo rin akong titindig, para sa tama, mabuti, at makatarungan.  Tiwala akong kayang-kaya nating marating ang Pilipinas na pangarap natin, lalo na at kasama ko kayo sa pagpanday sa kinabukasang ito,” Robredo added.

Robredo is running for president in what appears to be a tight race, with several big names vying for the seat.  Aside from her and Marcos, other presidential aspirants include Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, labor leader Leody de Guzman, Senators Panfilo Lacson, Manny Pacquiao, and Bong Go, and former military general Antonio Parlade.

Despite that, she remains optimistic about her chances. A recent survey showed that she is now the top two candidates behind Marcos — a pleasant surprise, especially since they are not expecting her numbers to improve until January and February 2022.

READ: Robredo surprised over warm public response to a presidential bid, unaffected by ‘frontrunner’

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TAGS: #2022candidates, 2022 presidential elections, Davao, Davao for Leni, Leni Robredo, Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, Office of the Vice President, OVP, Philippine news updates, President Rodrigo Duterte, Presidential Race
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