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VP offer: It ain’t over ’til Leni Robredo says it’s over

Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo and Liberal Party standard-bearer Mar Roxas. MARK ALVIC ESPLANA/INQUIRER SOUTHERN LUZON FILE PHOTO

Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo and Liberal Party standard-bearer Mar Roxas. MARK ALVIC ESPLANA/INQUIRER SOUTHERN LUZON FILE PHOTO

NAGA CITY, Philippines—Despite “confirmation” from different sources in the Liberal Party (LP) that she would be the ruling party’s vice presidential candidate in the 2016 elections, Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo said she had yet to decide on the offer of Mar Roxas to be his running mate.

Robredo, widow of former Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, said she still needed time to make that decision.

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“I have no decision yet. I asked for a few more days. I will be in Naga [Thursday],” she said, responding to the query about news coming out that she had already made the decision to be Roxas’ running mate.

Robredo said she would have a breakfast meeting with Most Rev. Rolando Tria Tirona, archbishop of the Archdiocese of Caceres.

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“I will be going around the whole day. I will be taking the bus tonight (Wednesday), so I’ll be there (Naga) early. But I will be going back to Manila by bus in the evening,” she said.

Robredo did not reveal her intention to have a breakfast meeting with Tirona, whom she and Roxas visited on Sept. 18 before the oath-taking ceremonies of the new members of the LP in Camarines Sur.

Asked if she would decide after her breakfast meeting with Tirona, she said: “Not yet. I still have to conduct a series of consultations with my supporters and I will have to talk again to my children.”

The administration coalition is expected to announce its complete lineup for the 2016 elections on Oct. 5.

While Roxas had been nominated by the LP to be its standard-bearer, it did not nominate a vice presidential candidate.

Party’s choice

President Aquino said the LP expected Robredo to make a decision “soon.”

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Former Food Security Secretary Francis Pangilinan said Robredo was the LP choice to be its vice presidential candidate.

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte said Roxas was given the authority to choose his running mate as well as those the LP would support in the senatorial race.

Belmonte claimed that Robredo had given her “informal consent” to be Roxas’ running mate but that she was still consulting and waiting for the final decision of her daughters.

Believing that Robredo had indeed agreed to run for Vice President, Belmonte said he liked the chances of the LP team for 2016.

“I’m all for it and it’s going to be the winning ticket. The elections are still far away. He (Roxas) has already fought in several elections. He’s not introducing himself the first time. Leni has worked as a congresswoman and she is a politician’s wife for many years at the local level. I would say they have a better than even chance,” he said.

Official LP standard-bearer

The LP on Wednesday officially endorsed the candidacy of Roxas as its standard-bearer.

At its national convention held at the LP headquarters in Cubao, Quezon City, the country’s biggest political party also gave its nod to the reelection bid of Senate President Franklin Drilon and Senators Ralph Recto and Teofisto Guingona III.

The LP likewise approved the inclusion of Pangilinan in its senatorial ticket.

Speaking with reporters after the gathering, Recto said the party authorized Roxas to pick his running mate and the eight remaining senatorial candidates.

Aquino’s pledge

“We formalized all the resolutions. Mar Roxas, of course, is our official candidate (as President),” Recto said, adding that the LP will hold another event on Oct. 5 to officially announce Roxas’ running mate and the complete senatorial slate.

Before his party mates at the LP headquarters, the President said he would go all out in campaigning for Roxas and the entire party’s slate in the 2016 election campaign.

The President also exhorted the party faithful to campaign for Roxas, whom he called “our leader,” first, before campaigning for themselves.

Campaign for Roxas first

 

“I’ve said this the past days, I think the upcoming campaign will be the most difficult campaign for me because I will give everything I could to this campaign,” Aquino said.

While everyone is giving his or her all in a campaign, the President has one “critical request” to his party mates:

“I am asking all of you that if we really believe in the straight path, let us campaign for our leader first before campaigning for ourselves.”

Aquino said he would do his best to reach out to each and every voter he could to campaign for Roxas.

As he went around the country, the President said he had heard of many testimonials of how people’s lives had changed. He also recalled it came to a point that there were some who suggested he might as well continue with the work, referring to talks before of him extending his term as President.

“But I said it would be taking the wrong direction if we will rely on only one person. We need to generate what we call young blood to have fresh ideas and for the strength, the energy, not to run out,” he said.

Unprecedented popularity

Pangilinan, who is eyeing a return to the Senate, said Aquino’s continued popularity was important to the LP campaign.

“The popularity of the President is unprecedented. At this point, the Presidents before him had 20 or 15 percent. Others had [negative ratings]. He has 64 percent and that is very high. How can you be a lame duck with 65 percent of the vote supporting you, believing you and trusting you? That is a big plus in our campaign,” said Pangilinan, a former senator.

He said it was “very important” to impart to the people that all the gains in the “first six years” could disappear “if there is no continuity.”

Other senatorial candidates

Guingona said the LP was still vetting several possible candidates, including members of other political parties, to complete the senatorial lineup.

“There are many possible senatorial candidates. We cannot accommodate all that’s why we have to weigh who should be included,” Guingona said.

Quezon City Rep. Kit Belmonte said among those being considered by the LP as its senatorial candidates were former Technical Education and Skills Development Authority head Joel Villanueva, Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla, ex-Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista and Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chair Francis Tolentino.

Belmonte said boxing icon and Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao, Las Piñas Rep. Mark Villar, former Pangasinan Rep. Rachel Arenas, ex-Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros and former Pampanga Gov. Mark Lapid may also be included in the slate.

Exciting VP fight

Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, LP provincial chair, said the vice presidential race would be just  as exciting as the fight for the presidency with Robredo in it.

“The presidential race usually gives flavor to the VP (vice presidential) race. But this (time) the VP race will have a flavor of its own so that makes the 2016 (elections) very exciting,” Salceda said.

‘Saint among brains’

Salceda said Robredo was the “saint among the brains” in the vice presidential race.

He noted that other vice presidential candidates like Senators Francis Escudero, Alan Peter Cayetano and even Antonio Trillanes IV would act as “strategists” for the presidential candidates they are supporting.

“But in our case, it’s the other way around. It is Roxas who is the brains and Robredo provides the moral moorings, so to speak,” Salceda said.

Jesse halo

The governor added that Robredo was wearing the “Jesse halo,” referring to her late husband.

Moreover, Salceda said Leni Robredo herself was “socially oriented,” including women and human rights issues.

“The VP race shows that the Vice President is no longer a spare tire. Before it was known as the supporting role and that the VP is the spare tire. Now the VP is the stepping-stone to the presidency. It is a conscious and deliberate target to be President. Except for Leni, all of them want to be President,” Salceda said.–With a report from Gil Cabacungan

 

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TAGS: decision to run, Elections, Elections 2016, Leni Robredo, Politics
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