MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) - Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo, the widow of the late Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, is throwing her hat in the political ring by running for congresswoman of Camarines Sur's 3rd District.
She will be facing Nelly Villafuerte, wife of incumbent Camarines Sur 3rd District Rep. Luis Villafuerte Sr. The Villafuertes and Robredos are known rivals in Camarines Sur.
ABS-CBN Legazpi correspondent Eric Baldo said Mrs. Robredo was accompanied by her youngest daughter, Jillian, in filing her certificate of candidacy.
In a press briefing, Robredo said she only had 2 hours to make a decision on running for the congressional post after their chosen candidate, Naga Vice Mayor Gabby Bordado, decided to give way to her this morning.
She said her decision was based on "gut feel and prayers" after supporters said her candidacy was the only way to unify the party.
"Hindi ko masasabing handang-handa ako dahil iba ang pinaghandaan ko. Until this morning, hindi ko alam ikakampanya ko sarili ko. Napakahirap para sa aming mag-anak. Hindi maintindihan ng mga anak ko bakit kailangang kumandidato ako pero sabi ko sa kanila pag umuwi sila at makita nila yung mga taong umaasa sa amin, in time, maiintindihan nila," she said.
"Ito ay ginagawa ko in honor sa asawa ko. Alam kong importante sa kanyang alagaan ko yung grupong itinaguyod niya. Hindi ako magbibingi-bingihan sa sinasabi nila," she added.
The widow of the late DILG chief earlier said she was not interested in seeking any elective position in the May 2013 elections after the death of her husband. DILG chief Robredo died in a plane crash off Masbate last Aug. 18.
Daughters begged her not to run
In the press briefing, Robredo said her decision was done so quickly that supporters had even prepared her certificate of candidacy and that she only had to sign it.
She said that on Friday morning, she was still set on supporting Bordado who was chosen through the normal selection process.
She said she was surprised when in the morning "there were so many people crying outside her house after Bordado announced that he was withdrawing his candidacy."
Mrs. Robredo admitted that her daughters begged her not to run so soon after the death of their father.
"Sabi ko sa kanila nasasabi nila yan dahil hindi nila nakikita na dugo ang pawis ang ibinigay ng asawa ko para itaguyod yung grupo. For 19 years, ito yung mga taong sumusuporta sa kanya. Ito yung inaasahan niya tuwing election," she said, referring to Robredo's supporters in Naga City.
"It was too small a price to pay yung isasakripisyo yung sarili," she added.
She also said she is still convinced that her joining politics was not the only way for her to preserve her husband's legacy.
LP president Jun Abaya, meanwhile, said the party is honored to nominate Robredo as a congressional candidate for Carmarines Sur's 3rd District.
"It was a very difficult decision on her part. We can only be appreciative of her desire to continue what Secretary Jesse has done for the province of Camarines Sur. She could have easily opted for the easy path of keeping a quiet life and taking care of her daughters but just like Secretary Jesse, she has responded to a higher calling," he said in a statement.
"The LP assures her of the party's full support to the call of the people of CamSur for Atty. Leni to run and be elected as representative of CamSur 3rd District."
Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda acknowledged Mrs. Robredo's decision was a difficult one to make "but now that she has decided we wish her all the best."
"We are confident that if elected she will capably bear the torch of good governance in the name of her late husband Jesse Robredo," he said.
LP chairman Sen. Franklin Drilon, meanwhile, said there was a genuine clamor for Mrs. Robredo to run for congresswoman of Camarines Sur's 3rd District.
Mrs. Robredo was earlier shortlisted by the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) for vacant positions in Ligao, Albay RTC Branch 13; Pili, Camarines Sur RTC Branch 32; Calabanga, Camarines Sur RTC Branch 63; and Daet, Camarines Sur RTC Branch 40.
However, she wrote the JBC and asked that she be considered for any vacant post in the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC).