MANILA, Philippines – With a little more than a month to go before 2016 poll bets make their bids official, supporters of Camarines Sur Representative Leni Robredo launched a “one million signatures” campaign in hopes of convincing the neophyte legislator to run for vice president.
Robredo, widow of former interior secretary Jesse Robredo, is among those being eyed as a possible running mate of Liberal Party (LP) presidential bet Manuel Roxas II.
Robredo has dismissed the idea, saying it was “too soon” for her to run for the second highest post of the land.
But this has not stopped a group of supporters from launching the “Leni Robredo for Vice President” movement to convince her to change her mind.
“We still feel that she has a lot to contribute as a vice presidential candidate and a partner of Secretary Mar. So we’re not yet packing our bags and leaving, we still believe that there’s an opportunity and a chance to convince her to run for Vice President,” former Quezon representative Erin Tañada said at the launch of the signature campaign on Tuesday, September 8.
Around 150 residents of Baseco Compound in Manila, some sporting “Roxas” wristbands, crowded around the Kabalikat office to sign their names.
Tañada said the signature campaign was meant to show Robredo that there was clamor for her to run, not only in Bicol, her home region, but in other parts of the country as well.
The former congressman said Robredo would be an ideal complement to Roxas and the administration’s tagline of “Daang Matuwid (straight path).”
The launch of the signature campaign came a day after Roxas said it was “possible” for Robredo to be his running mate. (READ: Who will be Mar Roxas’ VP? List: Poe, Robredo, Cayetano)
Robredo an ‘easy sell’
In previous interviews, Robredo has dismissed notions of a vice presidential run, saying she was hoping for the tandem of Roxas and Senator Grace Poe.
While Roxas has made offers for Poe to be his running mate, the senator is already being seen by some analysts as a presidential candidate. Poe has been visiting vote-rich provinces and talking about her possible platform if she decides to run for the top post.
Tañada believes Robredo would be an indispensable candidate for the LP and an ideal complement to Roxas, citing the rapport between the two.
“In Naga, during the death anniversary of Secretary Jesse, you would see that they’re very comfortable, it’s easy to bounce issues off each other, they already have rapport. That’s important for a team running for the highest position,” he said.
But he conceded that the public’s awareness of Robredo, and her exposure in the public limelight, could affect her prospects of getting elected – a concern earlier raised by Senator Sergio Osmeña III, who said there was a need for the Camarines Sur representative to be “exposed to the national audience.”
For Tañada, Robredo’s track record and perception of being credible and honest can boost her chances.
“In any elections, to be realistic you’ll look at numbers. You will look at possibilities. Of course we will admit, at this point Leni may not yet be that popular in terms of awareness, but it’s not hard to sell her,” Tañada said.
“She has no baggage. It’s very easy to campaign for her. The things that she fought for are the things Jesse fought for, [which] are the things also that [President Benigno Aquino III] fought for, so it’s easy. It’s a fit,” he added.
Tañada believes that once Robredo makes up her mind to run for vice president, her awareness among the public will also increase.
“Right now, we can’t deny the fact that most people know her only as the wife of Secretary Jesse, but people need to know what she has done as representative of Camarines Sur, and her various projects there,” he said.
While Robredo has not changed her tune on questions of a possible vice presidential run, her supporters said they will continue organizing events to raise awareness and promote her public image.
Tañada said the one million signatures campaign will also be held in other areas, such as Davao, La Union, Nueva Ecija, Quezon, Bicol, Bukidnon, Surigao, and Ifugao.
Tañada said he will also push for Robredo’s nomination when the LP’s National Executive Council convenes to discuss Roxas’ running mate.
Aside from Robredo, Batangas Governor Vilma Santos-Recto and Senators Antonio Trillanes IV and Alan Peter Cayetano of the Nacionalista Party are reportedly being considered as the administration’s vice presidential candidate. – with reports from Bea Cupin/Rappler.com