The movement to elect Vice President Leni Robredo as the new president is not just for the rich, her running mate Sen. Francis Pangilinan said Friday.
"Hindi siguro (Not really)," Pangilinan told ANC's Headstart.
"I guess some are concerned and we respect that but once local officials start supporting VP Leni, and there have been quite a number already, that's not just pang-elite. The local officials are the most sensitive to the public pulse."
Iloilo Mayor Jerry Trenas and Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar S. Moreno earlier backed Robredo's candidacy, saying the vice president is capable of unifying the people.
Robredo, 56, earlier said she is taking on the challenge of running for president, citing the crucial need for decent leadership amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
After her announcement, the hashtag #LabanLeni2022 (FightLeni2022) became the top trending Philippine item on Twitter, while supporters posted photos of themselves on social media wearing pink, the color associated with Robredo.
Robredo will face at least four other presidential candidates including Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. whom she beat by a slim margin in the 2016 vice presidential contest.
Marcos earlier placed 2nd in Pulse Asia's survey of most preferred presidential candidates, just behind Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio. Carpio, however, did not file her candidacy for president.
Robredo placed 6th in the survey.
In the interview, Pangilinan noted that frontrunners in pre-election surveys in the past 3 presidential elections ended up losing. He said Sen. Raul Roco, Sen. Manny Villar and Sen. Grace Poe were all frontrunners in 2004, 2010 and 2016 respectively.
"All the frontrunners ended up unable to sustain their leads in the polls. [Marcos] is ahead now but the poll that really matters is on May 9, 2022," he said.
He also said unity talks with other candidates are over. Robredo earlier held talks with presidential candidates Senators Panfilo Lacson and Manny Pacquiao, and Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso.
"Wala na 'yun...When the talks bogged down, and this is what the vice president also said, tapos na. Tapos na ang unity talks. We now focus on winning it in May," Pangilinan said.
(That's no more. When the talks bogged down, and this is what the the vice president also said, it's over. The unity talks are over. We now focus on winning it in May.)
NO MORE TURNING BACK
Encouraged by an "explosion" of support, Pangilinan said he is no longer inclined to give up his vice-presidential bid despite saying earlier that he is open to stepping down if it will help Robredo clinch the presidency.
"We discussed this with the Vice President and we did not expect yung bumabaha ang suporta. Talagang ang ating mga kababayan ay—sabi ko nga, kung nakakahawa ang takot, nakakahawa din ang tapang...Parang things fell into place, so wala na. Wala nang atrasan ito," he said.
(We discussed this with the Vice President, and we did not expect the support to come flooding in. Our countrymen, really—as I've said, if fear is infectious, so is bravery...Things kind of fell into place, so no more. There's no more turning back.)
Pangilinan acknowledged that trying for the vice-presidency was a risk instead of gunning for reelection as senator, but "we’re willing to take this risk because I think our children deserve a better future."
He disagreed with the perception that he may divide the vote with Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III and it may lead to a victory by administration bet Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go.
He said he and Sotto, who had topped the most recent preference survey for vice-president, have separate "constituencies."
"We will campaign as best we can, we will do our best, and the rest we leave to the God Almighty and our voters. I disagree that this might give the administration a greater chance. We will see. Let’s wait...It’s too early to conclude one way or the other," he said.