MANILA — Vice President Leni Robredo said on Friday she was ready to face former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. or any other opponent in the 2022 elections.
The only son and namesake of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who lost to Robredo in the 2016 vice presidential race, had said last week "I know I can win" if he faced off with Robredo again in 2022. He earlier said he would seek next year a national post which he did not specify.
"Kung ano iyong mapili ng unity ticket, tatakbo ako. Kung ako iyon. Kung one-on-one na Bongbong Marcos, lalaban ako kahit dehado," Robredo said.
(Whatever the unity ticket chooses, I will run. If that's me. If it's a one-on-one against Bongbong Marcos, I will fight.)
Robredo in the 2016 vice presidential race beat Marcos by some 263,000 votes, among the narrowest margins in a vice presidential contest in recent memory. Marcos protested his loss, but his plea was dismissed.
"Kung kahit sino ang kalaban, basta ako iyong pipiliin ng anti-admin forces, laban ako," Robredo said in a chance interview with reporters.
"Iyong pine-prevent ko lang naman na kami-kami maghihiwa-hiwalay. Iyon iyong pine-prevent ko kaya nag-e-exert ako ng effort na pag-isahin lahat," the opposition leader said.
(Whoever the opponent is, as long as anti-admin forces choose me, I will fight. I am only preventing our division. That's what I am preventing so I am exerting effort to unite everyone.)
Robredo confirmed a plan for her to meet with Sen. Manny Pacquiao and Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, both potential candidates for president next year.
The vice president declined to elaborate on this meeting, saying she did not want to preempt and possibly cancel the talks.
"Hanggang sa last day, hindi ako—hindi ko ipe-prevent iyong sarili ko mag-exert ng effort to seek out itong mga ibang puwedeng maging partners for 2022. May kasabihan nga, ‘di ba, habang may buhay, may pag-asa," she said.
(Until the last day, I will not prevent myself from exerting effort to seek out other potential partners for 2022. There is a saying that while there is life, there is hope, right?)
Robredo placed sixth among most preferred presidential candidates in a Pulse Asia survey released in July.
President Rodrigo Duterte's daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio topped that poll, followed by Moreno. Marcos, Sen. Grace Poe, and Pacquiao completed the top 5.
Robredo noted that in the 2016 race, she started at the bottom of election surveys.
"Sa akin, hindi lang naman sa survey iyong tinitingnan. Ang isang tinitingnan natin, makakabuo ba tayo ng as broad na coalition as possible," said the Vice President.
"Kasi kahit naman mababa sa surveys ngayon, alam natin historically na iyong nag-uumpisang malakas, hindi siya guarantee na siya pa rin hanggang dulo," she added.
(For me, surveys are not the only thing that should be looked at. We are looking at whether we can form as broad a coalition as possible. Because even if low in surveys now, we know that historically, those who start strong are not guaranteed to stay that way until the end.)
Survey topper Duterte-Carpio has said she would not vie for the presidency because of her father's vice presidential run, which is criticized by his critics as part of an alleged ploy to avoid legal cases for acts committed during his incumbency as president.
Robredo said she was giving herself until the third or fourth week of September to decide on her 2022 plans. Bets for president, vice president, and senator are required to file their certificates of candidacy from Oct. 1 to 8.
"Grabe iyong stakes sa 2022 elections, na hindi rin natin kailangang i-take lightly," Robredo said.
"Iyong parati lang na pagpapaalala, iyong pinaka-madali dito, iyong pagtakbo, eh. Pero iyong pagpanalo, ano iyong implication noon para sa bansa natin?"
(The stakes for the 2022 elections are so high that we should not take this lightly. The easiest part here is running. But in winning, what will be the implication of that on our country?)