MANILA (UPDATED) — Around 90 former government officials who served during the late former president Benigno Aquino III’s administration are backing Vice President Leni Robredo’s bid to be the country's next leader.
The group includes former interior secretary Mar Roxas, Robredo’s defeated running-mate in the 2016 elections, as well as other Aquino Cabinet members, senior government officials, former military chiefs of staff, retired ambassadors, and career civil servants.
The 95 Aquino admin officials said they “share our people’s aspirations for a government led by a President who is competent, experienced and committed to the principles of integrity, democracy, and genuine public service.”
“We believe that the best candidate who embodies these aspirations is a true leader who brings with her a solid track record of serving the public; one who possesses all the qualities of an ideal Chief Executive and Commander in Chief of our Armed Forces,” they said in a joint statement.
“We commit ourselves fully to Vice President Leni Robredo’s bid for the presidency to lead the Philippines on an upward path of recovery and greatness,” added the group.
They urged voters "to give our country the leader that we all deserve."
Robredo, in a tweet, thanked the former officials for their support.
"Grateful for the support of former AFP chiefs, Cabinet members, and career diplomats who served with former President Noynoy Aquino. I knew about the culture of competence and collaboration within these ranks from my husband," she wrote.
She also said most of these officials supported her and her daughters after the death of her husband.
"Nung nawala si Jesse, marami sa kanila naging karamay naming mag-iina sa gitna ng pagluluksa, going out of their way to help us through that difficult time," Robredo added.
Robredo's late husband Jesse served as interior secretary of the Aquino administration before his death in a 2012 plane crash.
The Vice President and Aquino, popularly known as "PNoy", belong to a political clique that helped topple the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos in a peaceful "people power" uprising in 1986.
Many members of this clique have retired from politics or shifted allegiances when President Rodrigo Duterte succeeded Aquino in 2016, Robredo said in January.
PNoy, only son of democracy icons Cory and Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr., succumbed to renal disease in June last year.
Marcos' son and namesake has emerged as the early frontrunner in May's presidential race. He and running-mate Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio have the backing of the political parties of former presidents Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Fidel Ramos, and Joseph Estrada.
But at least 23 Ramos administration officials last month expressed support for Robredo's presidential run.