ALBAY, Philippines – As the election campaign draws near, administration vice presidential candidate and Camarines Sur Third District Representative Leni Robredo admitted that she does not have the financial means to fund her bid.
But she told fellow Liberal Party (LP) members in Sogod, Bacacay town, that she had overcome this problem when she ran for Congress in 2013, and hoped to do the same by working harder at making more Filipinos know her.
“I don’t have money for campaign sorties, much so for television and print advertisements. That’s why I need to work hard to increase awareness so the people will know about me,” she told 2,000 local LP leaders at the ancestral home of former Albay First District representative Edcel Lagman in Sogod.
The neophyte congresswoman, the running mate of former interior secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, said she will again rely on interpersonal and word-of-mouth campaigning through the help of local communities, which proved instrumental in her successful congressional bid in 2013.
The neophyte lawmaker recalled her campaign sorties in Camarines Sur in 2013, when she would walk to far-flung areas with only a rechargeable portable sound system in tow.
Winning even without money
“I was compelled to join politics without a plan,” said Robredo, who reluctantly entered politics in 2013, in response to a clamor for her to break the powerful Villafuerte dynasty in her district.
“There [were] times [when] only 20 persons attended [during] one of my sorties in the outskirts areas compared to the [Villafuertes’ sorties] with bigger crowd due to gift giving and extravagant way of campaigning. But, I won the political contest even without money,” she said.
The Lagmans have pledged their all-out support for Robredo, promising an entire LP slate win in their district. The former representative is eyeing a return to Congress next year after his son, incumbent Representative Grex Lagman, gave way to his father.
Robredo, the running mate of administration standard-bearer Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, was a low-key political wife until she was thrust into politics after the death of her husband, former interior secretary Jesse Robredo, in 2012.
In the latest Pulse Asia survey on preferences for vice president, Robredo ranked 10th with 3%. The poll is currently topped by Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero with 23%. Senator Alan Peter Cayetano was at 9% and Senator Antonio Trillanes IV had 4%.
‘Riding’ on the Bicol Express
Robredo also said that some candidates are riding on the revival of the Bicol Express train service of the state-run Philippine National Railways (PNR) as a campaign strategy to increase their votes, even when they do not have anything to show for it.
She was referring to Escudero and United Nationalist Alliance standard-bearer Vice President Jejomar Binay. Escudero and Binay both promised to revive the Bicol Express train service should they be elected into office.
“It’s easy for some politicians to claim that they’re doing anything for the PNR extension operation [here] in Bicol, but [you] can ask them who among them fought for the renewal and the extension of the Philippine National Railways when its charter expired,” she said.
Robredo said that in the House of Representatives, she is the main author of the bill seeking to extend the PNR charter, and providing for additional capitalization for the railway. She added that Senator Ralph Recto sponsored the Senate version of the bill.
“We want to modernize the PNR railroad and coaches for the next 5 years,” she said..
Robredo, a pro-bono lawyer, also said that should she be elected into office, she would want to focus on poverty alleviation programs. She said her personal experience in this regard sets her apart from other candidates.
“My personal experience working with the poor and civic organizations will greatly help to pursue my desire to help our kababayans (countrymen), which is different from other politicians,” she said. – Rappler.com
(Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story stated on the 4th paragraph that Robredo was a “neophyte senator,” instead of congresswoman. The paragraph has since been edited.)