MANILA— Vice President Leni Robredo on Thursday afternoon made her bid for the presidency official just hours after announcing that she was joining the 2022 race.
Robredo, considered the leading opposition figure, filed her certificate of candidacy at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza in Pasay City, where the Commission on Elections, had set up a tent for COC filing due to threat of COVID-19.
Robredo, who chairs the once ruling Liberal Party, registered as an independent candidate, the Comelec said on Twitter.
Sources from Robredo's camp said the move was meant to show "inclusivity" with supporters from all fronts. But they said Robredo would not resign from her role in the Liberal Party.
Sources have said Sen. Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan, also an LP stalwart, will be her running mate.
Another LP loyalist, former senator Paolo Benigno "Bam" Aquino IV, said Robredo asked him to be her campaign manager. He said he was setting aside his aspirations for a Senate comeback to fulfill this role.
"Ibubuhos po natin ang ating buong lakas, bitbit ang suporta at pagmamahal ng ating mga kababayan, upang ipanalo si VP Leni bilang Pangulo ng ating minamahal na bansa," Aquino said in a statement.
(We will pour all our strength, carrying the support and love of our compatriots, so that VP Leni will win as President of our beloved country.)
LP allies Sen. Franklin Drilon, Sen. Risa Hontiveros, and rights lawyer Chel Diokno met with Robredo ahead of her COC filing, as seen in photos that Diokno shared on Twitter.
"Nabuhayan tayo ng pag-asa sa pag-declare ni VP Leni Robredo ng pagtakbo niya bilang pangulo," said Diokno, who is running for senator under the Katipunan ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino.
"Tama si VP: kailangan nating talunin 'yung luma at bulok na klase ng pulitika, at ipalit ang matino at mahusay na pamumuno. Kasama ako ni VP sa laban niya para sa mga Pilipino," he added.
(Our hope was revived with her declaration of her run as president. VP is right: we need to defeat the old and rotten kind of politics, and replace it with good and excellent leadership. I am one with VP in her fight for the Filipinos.)
Robredo was joined by daughters Tricia and Aika in registering her candidacy.
Earlier in the day, Robredo had announced her presidential bid, vowing the need to bring decent governance back and to properly address the crippling COVID-19 pandemic.
"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 kandidato 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.)
Robredo recently received the backing of 1Sambayan, a broad coalition of about 3 million members that represent different sectors nationwide and has touted itself as the opposition coalition.
1Sambayan said it believes Robredo would lead the Filipino people in "healing the nation, reviving the economy, eradicating graft and corruption, and restoring our pride and dignity as a people."
In 2016, she clinched the vice-presidency in a tight race with Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who had repeatedly challenged Robredo's victory.
In February 2021, the Supreme Court dismissed Marcos' election protest due to failure to allege specific acts showing electoral fraud.
Marcos lost to Robredo by more than 263,000 votes. In the recount of votes in 3 pilot provinces that Marcos had chosen, Robredo's lead grew by about 15,000.
A former human rights lawyer and widow of the late interior secretary Jesse Robredo, she served as housing secretary under Duterte but resigned after being excluded from Cabinet meetings.
In 2019, Duterte appointed Robredo as co-chair of an anti-drug body after criticizing the government's anti-narcotics campaign but fired her after 2 weeks.
Robredo has been at loggerheads with Duterte since they assumed power in 2016, including the administration's policy on the West Philippine Sea and response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the latest poll where she has not formally declared her bid for presidency, she has garnered the support of 8 percent of respondents. She is trailing among other preferred presidential candidates.
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," Vice President said earlier this September.
"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.)
Duterte's successor will inherit a nation with a battered economy due to the COVID-19 pandemic, worsening poverty and trillions of public debt.
Duterte can not run for president in May due to rules on term limits. He had said he would run for vice president but announced on Saturday he would retire from politics.
Should she win, Robredo, a mother of three, would be the third woman to lead the Philippines after democracy champion Corazon Aquino in 1986 and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2001.
— With report from Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News; Reuters