MANILA (UPDATE) — Vice President Leni Robredo on Sunday admitted working for 18 hours or more a day as she led another campaign rally in Quezon City for her presidential bid this year that drew thousands of supporters.
"Marami tayo kailangang trabahuhin [sa kampanya]. Pero 'yong pinapakita niyong pagmamahal, 'yon ang nagpapakita sa amin ng lakas para araw-araw gigising [kami] nang maaga, more than 18 hours magtatrabaho," Robredo said as she enumerated the different events she has attended since the official campaign period started last Feb. 8.
(We have a lot to work on in this campaign but the love you've shown us, that is what gives us strength to wake up everyday, for us to work for more than 18 hours.)
"Alam ko na marami dito mas mahaba pang oras kaysa 18 hours ang tinatrabaho araw-araw. Pero ginagawa natin 'yan (pag-iikot) para mas maraming mga kababayan ang makausap natin," she told supporters numbering, according to her, more than 20,000 at the Quezon Memorial Circle.
(I know that many of you here work longer than 18 hours everyday. But I'm doing this campaign so I'll be able to talk to more people.)
Robredo she also worked 18 hours a day as vice president, despite little "power" given to her office.
A recent video featuring Sen. Imee Marcos, sister of Robredo's rival candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr., and titled "Pagod Len Len," cited a statement that "anyone who claims to work 18 hours a day is either lying or stupid."
The video has drawn criticism online, with social media posts filled with stories of employees such as healthcare workers who render additional hours of work either because of the nature of their job or just to make ends meet.
Labor leader Leody de Guzman, another presidential candidate, had blasted the video, saying it dismisses the realities that ordinary Filipino workers face.
Robredo's remark about spending more than 18 hours a day in relation to her campaign came with an admission that this year's election will be a hard one for her team.
But the more-than-18-hours-a-day spent as well by her office since she became Vice President had equipped her with "receipts" about their efficiency, she said, something that she is offering to voters.
"Ngayong 2022, napakahirap ulit nung laban. Pero, ngayon, dapat mas madali na sa atin dahil maramı na tayong resibong mapapakita. 'Pag nangako tayo sa isang bagay, hindi na lang ito pangako pero nagagawa na at patuoy pang gagawin," she said.
(This 2022, the elections will be hard again for us. But it should be easier thanks to the receipts we have. When we promise about something, it's no longer a promise actually because we are already doing it and will continue to implement that.)
One of the programs that Robredo mentioned in her speech is their proposed "unemployment insurance," under which an individual is paid 80 percent of their salary in their first 3 months that they are unemployed.
If the individual fails to find work after 3 months, the government will help them get a new one, she said.
Before the event, Robredo paid Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte, who is running for reelection, a courtesy call.
The Vice President said she considers Quezon City her second home away from the Bicol region since she has a home in Barangay Sacred Heart while the Office of the Vice President is based in Barangay Marianas.
Quezon City has 1.4 million registered voters, the highest number among all cities nationwide, according to the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group.
Sen. Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan, Robredo's runningmate, was also present at the event along with some members of the tandem's Senate slate.
To avoid the crowd from huddling, organizes put up wide screens around the Quezon Memorial Circle so they could watch Robredo, who delivered her speech from a covered court, and the other speakers.
Despite the measure, the Quezon City government said the event "resulted in a spillover crowd that violated several restrictions that were mutually agreed upon."
In a statement, the local government reminded organizers of campaign events on the importance of "attending our pre-event coordination meetings, and more importantly, about strictly adhering to the agreements outlined in the signed permits."
It added that the city government is ready to provide assistance to ensure that the events are safe and cause minimal inconvenience to the general public.
Candidates must first secure permission from a local government before holding campaign events in their locality.
Robredo's camp acknowledged the concerns of the city government and took full responsibility for what happened.
While the organizers ensured that access to the immediate vicinity of the program proper was limited, and that all attendees were advised to bring vaccination cards and observe health protocols, the sheer number of people that arrived was a challenge, for which we apologize," said Robredo's spokesperson Atty. Barry Gutierrez.
"Rest assured the campaign is taking steps to ensure stricter compliance with all applicable regulations moving forward," he added.
Meanwhile, the camp of Marcos Jr. said the former senator would hold a campaign rally in Quezon City on Monday, Feb. 14.
In a statement, spokesman Vic Rodriguez said Marcos would be joined by members of his Senate slate and Anakalusugan Party Rep. Mike Defensor, who is also running for Quezon City mayor.
The event will be held at the Amoranto Sports Complex, Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez reiterated that the tandem of Marcos and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio supported the mayoralty bid of Defensor and his running-mate, councilor Winston Castelo.
— With a report from Robert Mano and Jaehwa Bernardo, ABS-CBN News