MANILA — Opposition leader Vice President Leni Robredo on Thursday announced her bid for the presidency in next year's elections, which she cast as a fight for the country's survival.
Robredo, earlier picked by coalition opposition 1Sambayan as its presidential bet, cited the crucial need for decent leadership amid the pandemic, when Filipinos have been struggling to get the help they need.
"Ina akong nakikita ang pagdurusa ng minamahal kong bansa. Naniniwala akong ang pag-ibig hindi lang nasusukat sa pagtitiis kundi sa kahandaang lumaban, kahit gaano kahirap, para matapos na ang pagtitiis. Ang nagmamahal, kinakailangan ipaglaban ang minamahal," a firm Robredo said in a speech at her Quezon City office.
(I am a mother who sees the suffering of the country I love. I believe that love is not measured by suffering, but rather, the readiness to fight, no matter how difficult, to end suffering. Someone who loves should be ready to fight for who they love.)
"Buong-buo ang loob ko ngayon. Kailangan nating palayain ang sarili mula sa kasalukuyang sitwasyon. Lalaban ako. Lalaban tayo. Inihahain ko ang aking sarili bilang kandito sa pagkapangulo sa halalan ng 2022," Robredo, wearing a blue blouse with a pink ribbon on her chest, told a cheering crowd.
(My will is strong. We need to free ourselves from the current situation. I will fight, we will fight. I offer myself as a candidate for president in the 2022 elections.)
Her announcement ended without revealing who her running mate would be.
Robredo and President Rodrigo Duterte have sparred over a number of issues since they assumed power in 2016, including the administration's war on drugs, West Philippine Sea policy, and management of the pandemic.
Most contenders in the 2022 presidential race have defended Duterte's anti-narcotics war.
"Kung makikipagkompromiso ka, kung hindi mo man lang kayang sabihin na mali ang mali, nakaninong panig ka ba talaga?" Robredo asked in her speech.
(If you compromise, if you cannot even say that what is wrong is wrong, whose side are you really on?)
"Malinaw kung nasaan ako. Nasa panig tayo ng mga sinasagad ang lahat para iraos ang sarili, ang pamilya, ang kapwa mula sa pandemyang ito," she said.
(It is clear where I am. We are on the side of those who are doing everything to get by for themselves, their families, their peers, during this pandemic.)
Robredo's announcement came days after her bid to form a 2022 alliance with Sen. Manny Pacquiao and Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso bogged down. Both men have separately announced they would vie for the presidency next year.
The Vice President earlier said Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who has also declared his presidential run, was "closed" to talks of an alliance.
On Wednesday, the son and namesake of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos filed his certificate of candidacy for president. Robredo hails from a decades-old clique that helped topple the Marcos regime in a 1986 "People Power" uprising.
Another potential contender for the top job is the President's daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio. She has filed her reelection bid, but her father's retirement from politics may pave the way for her presidential run.
"Hindi lang apelyido ng mga nasa puder ang dapat palitan," Robredo said. "'Yung korapsyon, 'yung incompetence, 'yung kawalan ng malasakit, kailangang palitan ng matino at mahusay na pamumuno."
(What should be changed are not just the family name of those in power. The corruption, incompetence, and lack of compassion should be replaced with intelligent and excellent leadership.)
"Handa dapat tayong iwaksi nang buong-buo ang mga agenda, ang mga interes, ang mismong mga tao at klase ng pulitika na sanhi na pinagdaraanan ng bansa natin ngayon," she added.
(We should be ready to fully reject the agenda, interests, the people themselves and the kind of politics which are the reasons for what the country is going through.)
Robredo earlier said she was ready to face any opponent in the 2022 race.
"We can't last another 6 years of this kind of governance," she said in July.
CALL ON SUPPORTERS
Duterte, 76, is banned by the constitution from seeking reelection. In early September, he formally accepted his nomination to run for vice president in 2022, a move that critics said was a ploy to keep power and dodge legal cases.
His longtime aide Sen. Christopher Go is running for vice president in his stead.
Duterte as early as November last year said he would be Robredo's "nightmare" should she aim for the country's top elective post.
Robredo, who in the 2016 race started at the bottom of election surveys, won the vice presidency with over 14 million votes.
She placed sixth in the latest Pulse Asia survey for the top job.
Robredo told her supporters, "Buong-buo rin ang tiwala ko sa inyo. Kaya tinatawag ko kayo: Gisingin ang natutulog pang lakas."
(My faith in you is whole. This is why I am calling on you: wake the sleeping strength.)
"Tumindig kayo; tinitiyak ko, mayroon ding titindig sa tabi ninyo. Kumausap ng labas sa nakasanayan; palawakin pa ang hanay. Ihayag ang katotohanan na sa kabila ng mga limitasyon, sa kabila ng panggigipit, sa maliit na tanggapan pa lang natin dito sa Office of the Vice President, napakarami na nating nagawa para makatulong," she said.
(Stand up and I assure you, somebody will stand beside you. Talk outside your circle, expand the ranks. Spread the truth that despite limitations, harassment, in our small Office of the Vice President, we have done so many things to help.)
Robredo's office has spearheaded livelihood projects, relief drives, COVID-19 vaccination efforts, online medical consultation, and services for health workers, among others.
Before her current post, Robredo, a lawyer, served as Camarines Sur representative, running in 2013 in heed of public clamor. Her political foray followed the tragic death of her husband, former interior secretary and long-time Naga City mayor Jesse Robredo, in a plane crash.
So far, more than 40 candidates have registered to run for president in the May election, but the field will narrow significantly in the coming months.
Election season kicked off this month, the candidates flocking to the offices of the elections commission to file their nominations.
The process launched a typically noisy and deadly seven months of campaigning for more than 18,000 positions, with the Covid-19 pandemic and the economic downturn caused by lockdowns expected to dampen the atmosphere.
– With a report from Agence France-Presse