MANILA (UPDATED) — Vice President Leni Robredo on Monday received the endorsement of Governor Danilo Fernando of vote-rich Bulacan province in her bid for the presidency.
Fernando said the Philippines needs a president who is free of corruption allegations and someone who has a strong faith in God.
"Ikinagagalak ko pong ipahayag sa araw na ito… ang aking taos-pusong suporta sa kandidatura ng ating kasalukuyang Bise Presidente na sa mabiyayang patnubay ng makapangyarihang Diyos ay siyang susunod na magiging Presidente ng Republika ng Pilipinas," he said.
(I am happy to declare today my heartfelt support to the candidacy of our incumbent Vice President, who through the guidance of God, will be next President of the Republic of the Philippines.)
"Let a woman lead. Let Leni lead," the governor added in a press conference.
Bulacan is home to 2,007,523 voters, according to latest data from the Commission on Elections.
In the 2016 vice presidential race, Robredo got some 366,000 votes in the province north of Manila, compared to around 556,000 votes it yielded for her then closest rival, Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.
Marcos Jr. is among Robredo's rivals in May's presidential race.
The Vice President said Fernando's support for her is "very important."
"Parang siya iyong naggagarantiya sa kaniyang mga kababayan na pinag-aralan ko ‘to, pinagdasalan ko ‘to at after akong magdasal at nag-aral, palagay ko ito ‘yong kandidato na pinakamaabuti para sa akin. Ang laking impact noon para sa mga Bulakenyo at para sa kampaya namin," Robredo said.
(He is the guarantee to his province-mates that, 'I studied this, I prayed for this and I think that this is candidate is the best for me. That has a big impact for Bulakenyos and for our campaign.)
"Pero having said that, sa kampanya kasing ‘to hindi namin tinitingnan din kung malaki ka o maliit na lugar. Pantay-pantay ang tingin namin sa lahat. Kahit maliit iyong lugar mo, mahalaga ka; kahit kaunti lang kayo, mahalaga ka," she continued.
(But having said that, in this campaign we do not look at whether an area is big or small. We look at everyone equally. Even if your area is small, you are important; though you are few, you are important.)
Robredo acknowledged it may not have been easy for Fernando to endorse her, given that she has not yet led surveys for the presidency.
"Para sa akin kasi pagpapakita ito ng mga lingkod-bayan na hindi tinitingnan kung ano ba iyong makakabuti sa sarili niya, pero ang tinitingnan ano ba iyong makakabuti para sa mga nasasakupan niya, ano ba ang makakabuti para sa ating bayan,"
(For me, this exemplifies public servants who do not look at what will be good for them, but what will be good for their constituents, for our country.)
Fernando is running for reelection. His rivals include Vice Governor Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado.
Robredo said she hopes Fernando's endorsement would boost her fight against disinformation. She is the top target of false online information, a fact-checking group said in February.
Over the weekend, the Vice President denied alleged links to the communist movement and an online rumor that she supposedly married a rebel fighter in her teens.
"Marami pa akong inaasahan," Robredo said of online disinformation. "Siguro nakikita kasi sila, nararamdaman nila iyong shift on the ground."
(I expect more. Perhaps purveyors see, feel the shift on the ground.)
"Kailangan lang mag-push back na mag-push back," she urged supporters.
(We just need to keep pushing back.)
Meanwhile, Sy-Alvarado said he is confident that Marcos Jr. can replicate his 2016 win in Bulacan.
"Sa paglilibot ko po, lalo na sa malayong lugar, Bongbong Marcos po," he said in a press release from the Marcos camp.
(In my visit of far-flung areas, it's Bongbong Marcos.)
"Unang-una inaapi nila. Ayaw na ayaw po ng mga tao ang nang-aapi," added the vice governor.
(First, they're oppressing him. People do not like oppressors.)
Sy-Alvarado did not elaborate how Marcos Jr. is supposedly being oppressed.