Tsinelas leadership: Why Leni Robredo joined VP race

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBNnews.com

MANILA (UPDATE) – Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo has formally accepted the Liberal Party's offer to become the running mate of the ruling party's standard bearer, former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas.

''Matapos ang malalim na pag-iisip, malawak na konsultasyon, at sobrang taimtim na pagdadalangin, buong puso, buong pananampalataya at buong tapat ko pong tinatanggap ang hamong tumakbo bilang pangalawang pangulo ni Secretary Mar Roxas,'' Robredo said before a jampacked crowd at Club Filipino.

''Ibinibigay ko po ang aking sarili ng buong-buo sa ating mga kababayan, lalung-lalo na sa inyong mga naka-tsinelas na nasa labas, nasa ibaba, at laylayan ng lipunan."

The initially reluctant Robredo finally decided to throw her hat in the ring after a series of negotiations with Roxas and members of the ruling party.

Among the things that made her think twice about running were her daughters' desire for her to stay out of the political limelight and her commitment to her constituents in the province.

(READ: Mar to persuade Robredo daughters to allow mom to run)

But Robredo assured that her constituents in the province will not be forgotten, and that the reforms she introduced after throwing out the ''political dynasty'' of the Villafuertes will be sustained.

''Sa aking pamilya sa ikatlong distrito ng Camarines Sur, hindi ko kayo tatalikuran at iiwan nasaan man po ako. Ang pagkalinga at pagsisilbi ko sa inyo ay patuloy pa rin. Sabay-sabay nating ipagpatuloy ang mga pagbabagong ating nasimulan. Huwag na sana nating hayaang manumbalik pa ang mga dating kabuktutan,'' she said.

Robredo became the sole option of the LP to become Roxas' running mate after their first choice, Senator Grace Poe, decided to run for president.

Talks with Senator Alan Peter Cayetano also broke down due to supposed differences in ideologies. Cayetano is now in talks for a possible tandem with Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who has yet to decide whether he will run for president.

(READ: Abad: Leni is 'sentimental choice' for Mar's VP)

NEWBIE IN POLITICS

Robredo had cited her junior political stature as one of the reasons for holding back. Robredo was thrown into the limelight following the death of her husband, the late Interior secretary Jesse Robredo, in 2012.

In 2013, Robredo ran for a seat in Congress, trouncing Nelly Villafuerte of the influential Villafuerte clan which had reigned over Camarines Sur for decades.

Before this, Leni was known politically as Jesse's wife and mother to three daughters.

In her speech, Robredo repeatedly mentioned how she wants to continue her late husband's ''tsinelas leadership.''

''Araw-araw, ramdam ko pa rin ang pagkawala ni Jesse, pero ramdam ko pa rin ang mga pangarap niya para sa ating bayan,'' she said.

She also said it was Jesse who inspired and gave her the strength to finally accept the challenge to run as Roxas' running mate.

"Ano ang gagawin ni Jesse kung siya ang nalalagay sa sitwasyon? Kahit gaano kahirap, 'di niya tatalikuran ang sinumang humihingi ng tulong. Hindi siya matutulog hangga't 'di niya nagagawa ang pwede pa niyang magawa sa bayan,'' she said.

''Gaya ng dati, nabubuhay kami sa alaala ng sinasabi ni Jesse sa amin: 'Tiwala lang'. May dahilan ang lahat ng nangyayari. Dahil sa kahuli-hulihan ng lahat, ang mabuti ang palaging mananaig at ang tama ang parating magtatagumpay."

Robredo also thanked her daughters for supporting her in her decision to run for vice-president.

"Ipinapangako ko po na hindi ko kakalimutan ang aking tungukulin bilang magulang. Hindi ko kakalimutan na asawa ako ni Jesse at nasa balikat ko ang obligasyon na buhayin ang kanyang halimbawa na maging isang tapat na lingkod-bayan,'' she said.

SURVEY STANDING

Robredo is entering the VP race with a poor standing in the major pre-elections surveys.

In the last Pulse Asia survey on possible candidates for vice president, Robredo scored a mere 3% nationally, 1% in NCR, 5% in Luzon 1% in Visayas, 0 in Mindanao, 2 in class ABC 3 in class D and 3 in class E.

She trails other possible candidates for vice president like topnotcher, fellow Bicolano Senator Francis Escudero; Ilocano Senator Bongbong Marcos who is reportedly going to be announced as Vice President Jejomar Binay's running mate; Senator Alan Peter Cayetano who is supposedly going to be the running mate of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte; and Senator Antonio Trillanes, who announced his vice presidential bid on Saturday. Trillanes is backing Poe for president as well.

This is also the situation in the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey, where only 3% of the respondents said they would vote for Robredo if the elections were held during the survey period.

MAR TO LENI: DAANG MATUWID NEEDS YOU

In her speech, Robredo also narrated her humble beginnings as a lawyer, having served those who could not afford legal services as part of the Public Attorney's Office and various non-government organizations.

''Mahabang panahon ang ginugol ko sa pakikisalamuha sa mga magsasaka, mangingisda, manggagawa, mga maralitang panglungsod, kababaihan, kabataan at katutubo, kahit alam ko na ang ganong klaseng pag-aabugado ay hindi magdudulot ng materyal na kaginhawahan sa aking pamilya,'' she said.

She said she still carries this same principle as she bids for the vice-presidency, stressing that the Daang Matuwid (straight path) governance started by President Benigno Aquino III must be continued.

''Ang Daang Matuwid ang magsisiguradong 'di makakalimutan ang mga taong madalas napagiiwanan,'' she said.

Although Robredo was not his primary choice for running mate, Roxas stressed that the widow is perfectly fit to be his partner in carrying the LP torch.

''Si Leni Robredo, tiyak natin suwak na suwak sa mga batayang prinsipyo at sagad to the bones ang paniniwala sa Daang Matuwid,'' he said.

Roxas also apologized to Robredo for putting her in a spot she never thought she would be in.

''Alam naming hindi mo inambisyon ito at lalong 'di mo inambisyon na maging bise president ng bansa, pero kailangan ka ng Daang Matuwid. Kailangan ka ng ating mga boss,'' he told Robredo.

''Kailangan ka naming lahat para pag-isahin ang pwersa ng reporma at para siguraduhin ang mga nasimulan natin ay magpapatuloy. Hindi magiging madali ang laban na ito, pero kaming lahat ay nasa likod mo. At higit sa lahat, nasa likod natin ang ating mga boss. Sa gabay ng maykapal, magtatagumpay tayo."

ECONOMICS, LAW DEGREES

Robredo has a degree in Economics from the University of the Philippines and a law degree from the University of Nueva Caceres in Naga City.

She is a passionate advocate of transparency through the Freedom of Information bill, which continues to languish in Congress.

Robredo is a member of 13 committees: Good Government And Public Accountability Vice Chairperson, Revision Of Laws Vice Chairperson, Appropriations Member for the Majority, Bicol Recovery And Economic Development Member for the Majority, Climate Change Member for the Majority, Human Rights Member for the Majority, Land Use Member for the Majority, Local Government Member for the Majority, People's Participation Member for the Majority, Rural Development Member for the Majority, Suffrage And Electoral Reforms Member for the Majority, Welfare Of Children Member for the Majority Women And Gender Equality.

She also authored 30 House measures and co-authored 119 other measures. – with a report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News