MANILA (UPDATE) - The disqualification case of former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr was "never a consideration" for Vice President Leni Robredo as she intends to win the upcoming elections, her spokesperson said Friday.
The Commission on Elections First Division has voted to dismiss the 3 consolidated petitions against Marcos that stem from his tax case conviction in 1995.
"From the very beginning the disqualification case was never really a consideration for us. She was always focused on winning this election so no matter who is in the race the plan remains the same. The focus remains the same," Lawyer Barry Gutierrez told ANC's Headstart.
"And we’re hoping with the explosive strategy last Tuesday, she’s well on her way to actually winning this in elections in May."
Robredo's numbers in surveys are in an "upward trajectory," her spokesperson said.
"What's clear is this: Marcos is still ahead, he has a fairly large lead...the Vice President is going up and the trajectory and momentum are hers and there are 87 more days in the campaign. So long as the numbers keep going up, then we're on track to actually pulling this up on time," he said.
The minds of those who vote in surveys can still be changed, Gutierrez added.
"If it’s just the people who voted for him in 2016 that will vote for him again then I think that proves my point we will win this elections. A lot of the people who in the survey said they will vote for him right now are people who can still change their minds," he said.
"It’s an election. Definitely you will not get everybody to vote for you. Some people their minds cannot really be changed. In an election you don’t need everybody to vote for you, you just need enough people to vote for you."
When asked about Marcos' absence in debates and interviews, Gutierrez said, "We always felt from the start they would try to dodge the debates. Their strategy is keep Bongbong Marcos out of the limelight, don’t get him in a situation where his weakness will show and let's just do the curated stuff on social media."
"I think it’s completely disingenuous to try to portray this as a some kind of principled and political stand. A debate is not an argument. Hindi siya away (it's not a fight). It's a venue for candidate to articulate ano ang kanyang pinaglalaban... magkaroon ang taumbayan na makita na tabi-tabi sila sino ang aangat, may klarong vision sa ating bansa," he said.
(It's a venue for candidate to articulate what they're fighting for...so the public can have a chance to see all of them side by side and who will shine and who has a clear vision for our country.)
The debates also show how a candidate performs under pressure, Gutierrez added.
"It's not just about clarity of plans, it’s also being able to perform under pressure because the presidency is a pressure-packed job. Para sakin somebody who avoids pressure, conflict, challenge is someone na 'di mo maaasahang maging Pangulo. If you're president, you will have to face difficult situations," he said.
(For me somebody who avoids pressure, conflict, challenge is someone who you can't rely on to be President.)
"VP Leni for the last 6 years has been put through really a ringer in terms of the pressure she has been put under--bashers, trolls, hecklers. She has not stood down at any point. She has always faced any challenge...I hope more of our voters, fellow Filipinos realize that the debates, interviews, forums, are there para makilala natin ano ang totoong pagkatao ng ating mga kandidato."
(I hope more of our voters, fellow Filipinos realize that the debates, interviews, forums, are there so we can learn more about the true personality of candidates.)
The Vice President's campaign is so far "largely volunteer-driven," Gutierrez said.
"I have been in several national campaigns, this is the first time I'm seeing this level of volunteer support. People are self-organizing, self-financing, initiating their own activities in their own communities," he said.
"Everywhere from Ilocos Sur down to Davao in Mindanao. The intensity, the energy, you can feel it. I have no doubt that will change hearts, that will change minds."
There is "always room for improvement," Gutierrez added, noted there must be a "minimum alignment" among volunteer initiatives.
"This is a new thing for all of us. Oct. 7 was really the time we created an honest-to-goodness machinery. There will be missteps along the way. I'm confident these things are lessons learned and moving forward it will be clearer and better," he said.
"To come up with a really inspiring ad that will make a mark that will convert a ton of people to support her, that’s really something we’re determined to provide," he added.