MANILA, Philippines – The spokesperson of the Liberal Party (LP)-led coalition for the 2016 polls denied rumors that the ruling party is planning to drop Camarines Sur Representative Leni Robredo if she continues to lag behind her rivals in the vice presidential race.
On Friday, February 26, Daang Matuwid coalition spokesman Ibarra Gutierrez denied the statements made by political strategist Malou Tiquia, who said in a Facebook post that the LP was planning to drop Robredo because she would not be able to stop the rise of vice presidential rival Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. (READ: Marcos bailiwick ‘real challenge’ in campaign, Robredo admits)
Gutierrez said that the coalition is backing Robredo “110%.”
“Walang katotohanan ‘yan. 110% ang suporta, hindi lang ng koalisyon, pero lahat ng aming mga lider, lahat ng aming mga volunteer, lahat ng aming mga campaign workers para sa kandidatura ni Cong Leni,” Gutierrez said.
(That is not true. The coalition, all our leaders, volunteers, and campaign workers are behind Congresswoman Leni’s candidacy 110%.)
“Buong-buo ang aming loob na tuloy-tuloy na ang pagtaas ng kanyang numero at pagdating ng Mayo, siya ang mahahalal na bise presidente ng Pilipinas,” he added.
(We fully trust that her survey numbers will continue to rise and that come May, she will be elected the vice president of the Philippines.)
In her February 25 Facebook post, Tiquia cited two “different but credible” sources, who said the LP was planning to drop Robredo because of her poor survey standing.
Based on the most recent Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey, Robredo currently ranks 3rd at 19%, behind Marcos and Senator Francis Escudero who are tied at number 1 with 26%.
Robredo, however, has seen an improvement in her numbers. Back in June, only 1% of voters backed her bid.
Gutierrez pointed out that the coalition had been behind Robredo even when her survey numbers were only single-digit figures.
He added that her “tremendous gains” in recent surveys show that the legislator is gaining momentum.
“So kung nung 1% siya tinayaan na namin siya, ba’t kami bibitaw ngayong anlaki na nang tinaas ng kanyang result?” Gutierrez said.
(We backed her when her survey numbers were at 1%. So why would we let go of her now that her numbers have significantly improved?)
Trying to create rift?
Gutierrez also questioned Tiquia’s motives, saying the political strategist may have been trying to create a rift between Robredo and the LP standard-bearer, Manuel Roxas II.
Tiquia, founder and general manager of campaigns management firm Publicus Asia, is working as a volunteer for Robredo’s campaign, but is supporting and advising Vice President Jejomar Binay for his bid for the presidency.
“Baka meron siyang agenda dito na mag-create ng rift sa pagitan ni Sec Mar at Cong Leni. Pero hindi magiging epektibo ‘yan…. Buo ang suporta ni Sec Mar para sa kanya at ito ang katotohanan,” Gutierrez said.
(Perhaps she has an agenda to create a rift between [former interior secretary] Mar and Congresswoman Leni. But that won’t be effective…Mar is fully supporting Leni, and that is the truth.)
In a text message to Rappler, Tiquia said that her post had nothing to do with her support for Binay.
“I don’t deny I am advising him. Hindi ko ‘tinatago ‘yan (It’s not a secret). Both VP and Leni know about my involvement in their respective campaign…. I disclosed to both to avoid conflict of interest. Both have been very professional with the work I do for them,” Tiquia said.
“I am a volunteer to Leni and I spend my own money, raise funds for Samahang Tsinelas. We have our own activities, posters and stickers, apart from LP,” she added.
In her Facebook post, Tiquia said Robredo “remains loyal to a fault to LP” and added that it was “cruel” to think of dropping her less than 3 months before the elections.
“From 0 to 19% was not an easy climb. Yes, she is plateauing but that is because there is not enough support to get her message out via air,” Tiquia wrote.
According to her source, the LP was planning to drop Robredo because of doubts on her ability to beat Marcos.
“So I further asked, ‘If we get her to 25%, will you stop with your plan?’ The person was quiet,” Tiquia wrote.
“I ended the conversation with: ‘You don’t junk Leni, you give her the wherewithal to fight.’ The person said I should not get mad because this is just politics.”
For her part, Robredo said she does not believe that the LP will drop her, adding that her trust in the coalition remains whole.
“Noong sadsad pa ako sa survey, sinuportahan ako, 1% pa lang, ngayon pa kaya na tumaas ang rating ko. Hindi iyon mangyayari. Araw-araw kong kasama ang partido at kita ko ang suporta nilang bigay sa akin,” she said.
(When my survey rankings were very low, at 1%, they supported me. How much more now that my ratings have improved? That won’t happen. I am with the party every day and I see their support for me.)
Asked about the issue in Pagadian City, Roxas also denied the rumors.
“Wala kaming Plan B, wala kaming Plan C, D, or iba pang plano. Ang plano namin ay manalo dahil tinatayuan namin, tinutungtungan namin, matibay na pundasyon na malinis, maayos, at hindi nagnanakaw na pamamahala,” he said.
(We don’t have a Plan B, Plan C, D, or any other plan. Our plan is to win, because we are banking on a strong foundation of a corrupt-free form of governance.)
Robredo also expressed confidence that her campaign will translate into an improvement in her survey numbers. Based on the February SWS survey, Robredo’s numbers increased by 2 percentage points, from 17% in January to 19% in February.
The Camarines Sur representative also said that she has not read Tiquia’s post or spoke with her, but added that she would ask the political strategist about it.
“‘Pag nakausap ko siguro siya, ia-assure ko lang siya na buo naman ang tiwala ko sa partido,” she said. (When I talk to her, I’ll assure her that I trust the party wholeheartedly.) – Rappler.com