Robredo declares she will lead, unite opposition vs Duterte

Mara Cepeda
Robredo declares she will lead, unite opposition vs Duterte
(UPDATED) 'It is becoming apparent mas malakas 'yung loob ng ibang magboses 'pag merong sinasandalan na grupo na pareho 'yung paniniwala sa kanya. At 'yun 'yung role ko na pag-isahin 'yung boses na 'yun,' says Vice President Leni Robredo

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Vice President Leni Robredo said she has agreed to lead the opposition movement against President Rodrigo Duterte. 

Robredo said on Tuesday, July 10, she has accepted the call of several groups for her to spearhead efforts to unite and build a broad movement among the various groups opposed to the Duterte administration.

“Maraming mga grupo na pareho naman ‘yung mga issues na gustong salungatin. Pero dahil ‘di nag-usap-usap, hindi napag-iisa ‘yung boses. At ‘yun ‘yung role na gusto kong i-take: Siguraduhin na ‘yung mga boses… ay lalong mapagkaisa, para lalong pakinggan. Siguraduhin na ‘yung mensahe na gustong ipaabot mas maintindihan at hikayatin ‘yung pareho rin ang paniniwala na makiisa,” she said.

(There are a lot of groups opposing the same issues. But they don’t coordinate with each other and they are not united. And that’s the role I want to take: To ensure their voice will become one so they would be listened to more. I want to make sure the message they want to convey would be understood.)

The Vice President said she has long taken on the role of opposition leader, as she had been criticizing some of Duterte’s policies and decisions in the past two years, such as the drug war, charter change, and the hero’s burial for the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. (READ: Robredo asks Filipinos to unite vs killings, culture of violence

But it was only last week when Robredo personally met with representatives of several groups that staunchly oppose Duterte, like Tindig Pilipinas, Akbayan, Magdalo, and the once-ruling Liberal Party (LP), of which she is chairperson.

It was during this meeting that they asked her if she could be their opposition leader. She agreed. 

Why now? (READ: Why Leni Robredo can’t be full-on opposition)

Robredo said she is now convinced Filipinos would be more encouraged to oppose the government’s abusive policies if there is a prominent voice that will champion them.

“Maraming kababayan ang nagsasabi sa atin na kailangan ng leader at parati kong sinasabi ‘yung sa atin, obligasyon natin lahat, ‘di ba? Obligasyon nating lahat na ipaabot ‘yung saloobin natin. Obligasyon natin lahat na sumalungat kung kailangang sumalungat,” said Robredo.

(A lot of our countrymen are saying they need a leader, but I have also been saying it is all our obligation to express what we feel. It is all our obligation to oppose what needs to be opposed.)

“Pero it is becoming apparent mas malakas ‘yung loob ng ibang magboses ‘pag merong sinasandalan na grupo na pareho ‘yung paniniwala sa kanya. At ‘yun ‘yung role ko na pag-isahin ‘yung boses na ‘yun,” she said.

(But now, it is becoming apparent that the people will be more confident to speak up if there is another group that shares the same beliefs. And that’s the role I want to take, to unite those voices.)

In an editorial last June 12, Rappler took the “catatonic opposition” to task for its failure to get its act together. (READ: #AnimatED: Kris vs Mocha: Lessons for the catatonic opposition)

“A year before the midterm elections, who is the aggressive voice of the opposition?” Rappler wrote. “By all accounts, it should still be Robredo. It can’t be the anemic opposition senators and congressmen whose biggest battle is to stay in the supermajority. It can’t be the uncharismatic De Lima, who has been reduced to handwritten letters from jail. Neither is it Antonio Trillanes, whose performance ratings have sunk to all-time lows. It’s not yet Risa Hontiveros whose left-of-center politics had never caught the public’s fancy.”

The Philippines will have its midterm senatorial and local races in May 2019, based on the election calendar.

Opposition slate by September

The Vice President said talks are now ongoing as to what issues the still-nameless united opposition will fight for. 

“Actually maraming mga grupong nag-usap-usap. Hindi lang ito political parties, pero pati ‘yung mga movement na ginagawa na iba-iba ‘yung mga dahilan kung bakit sila na-form. Pero merong parang ‘yung similarities sa paniniwala na ayaw ng dictatorship, ayaw ng authoritarianism, merong differences siguro pagdating [sa paano lalabanan ‘yun],” said Robredo. 

(There are a lot of groups talking. This does not only involve political parties, but also other movements with different advocacies. They do have similarities when it comes to fighting dictatorship and authoritarianism, but there are still differences on how to oppose these.) 

She said they are also still discussing who will be part of the opposition’s senatorial slate for the 2019 elections, which Robredo estimates they’ll announce in September, a month before the filing of certificates of candidacy. 

Back in May, Senator Francis Pangilinan, president of the LP, had said the Senate minority will form a “resistance slate” for the 2019 polls.  

The initial names floated are reelectionist Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, human rights lawyer Jose Manuel Diokno, ex-representative and LP internal affairs vice president Lorenzo Tañada III, Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano, actress Agot Isidro, and ex-Akbayan representative Barry Gutierrez, who is now legal affairs adviser for Robredo. –

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at or tweet @maracepeda.