MANILA (UPDATE) —Sen. Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan filed Friday his certificate of candidacy for the vice-presidency after being tapped as the running-mate of Vice President Leni Robredo.
Pangilinan said he had no plans to run for vice president, and was preparing for a re-election bid when Robredo urged him to be her runningmate.
"Aaminin ko din, na isa ako sa napakarami nating mga kababayan na hiniling kay Ma’am Leni at ipinagdasal na tumakbo siya bilang Pangulo," he said in a press conference after filing his COC.
(I will admit that I was among the many Filipinos who urged Ma'am Leni and prayed that she would run for president.)
"Ako naman ngayon ang hiniling ni Ma’am Leni na sumabak din. Sa ganitong sitwasyon naisip ko na dahil isa ako sa mga nag-udyok sa kanya na tumakbo, at isantabi ang kanyang sariling kagustuhan, ngayon siya naman ang humihingi ng tulong, isantabi ko rin ang aking kagustuhan," he said.
(Now, Ma'am Leni is the one who is urging me to run. With this situation, where she is the one asking for help, I think I should also set aside my plans.)
"Pero sa totoo lang, tinawag tayo ng tungkulin. Call of duty — hindi lang kay Ma’am Leni, hindi lang sa Partido, koalisyon o sa hanay ng mga supporters, pero sagradong tungkulin sa buong bansa."
(But to be honest, we are being called to serve. Call of duty not just for Ma'am Leni, not just for the party, coalition or supporters, but for our sacred duty for the entire country.)
Robredo accompanied Pangilinan during the filing of his COC 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.
"Pinagpaguran ko 'yung Office of the Vice President. Wala akong pagdadalawang isip na kay Sen. Kiko ko ito iiwan," she said.
(I worked hard for the Office of the Vice President. I have no doubts in leaving this to Sen. Kiko.)
"Siya 'yung mangangalaga hindi lang ng legacy na iniwan ko pero dadalhin niya pa a notch higher kung nasaan yung Office of the Vice President ngayon," she said.
(He will not just care for the legacy I will leave behind, but he will take the Office of the Vice President a notch higher.)
Pangilinan, 58, is president of the once-ruling Liberal Party chaired by Robredo. The party's chairman emeritus Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III died of kidney failure last June.
The senator and Robredo have opposed several key policies of President Rodrigo Duterte's administration, including the war on drugs, stance on the West Philippine Sea, and push for death penalty.
Pangilinan also led the failed campaign bid of opposition slate Otso Diretso in the 2019 midterm elections.
Opposition coalition 1Sambayan, which nominated Robredo for the presidency, recommended a different running mate, its convenor and retired Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said.
"Her choice is not what we recommended. But under our process, she can nominate somebody else other than our choice," he told ANC.
Carpio said he understood Robredo’s choice "because you have to look at the, of course, the contribution of your vice president."
RUNNING VS WIFE'S RELATIVE
Among Pangilinan's expected rivals for the vice presidency is Senate President Vicente Sotto III, the uncle-in-law of his wife Sharon Cuneta.
"It was not easy. That (Running against Sotto) was the first thing we discussed," Pangilinan said.
"Ang sabi niya (Sharon) siyempre, kung nasaan ako, nandoon siya," he said.
(She said wherever I am, she will be there.)
Sharon Cuneta is the niece of actress Helen Gamboa, Sotto's wife.
Aside from running against a relative, the decision to run for higher office was a difficult one for their family, Pangilinan said.
"Hindi madaling baguhin ang mga plano nang last minute," he said.
(It is not easy to change your plans at the last minute.)
"Mabigat na desisyon ito para sa akin at sa aking pamilya. Mabigat na tungkulin. Mas malaking hamon sa kampanya," he said.
(This is a difficult decision for me and my family. The burden is heavy. The challenge of campaigning is bigger.)
But Pangilinan said he would take on the challenge of being an underdog in the vice presidential race, noting that surveys at this point are only snapshots of the entire picture.
"Tinanggap ko ang hamon na ito hindi dahil sa katiyakan ng ating pagkapanalo, kung hindi dahil sa katiyakan ng ating paninindigan at paniniwala," he said.
(I accepted this challenge not because of the certainty of winning, but because of the certainty of our convictions and beliefs.)