CEBU, Philippines – Liberal Party (LP) vice presidential candidate Leni Robredo isn’t exactly pulling out all the stops to prepare for the first and only vice presidential debate organized by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
She can only hope for a chance to “slow down” in the days preceding it.
“Wala pang preparations kasi busy pa sa kampanya, pero sana makapag-slow down ako kahit 1 or 2 days man lang,” Robredo said in a chance interview with reporters on Thursday, April 7, in Tondo, Manila.
(No specific preparations because we’re busy campaigning but I’m hoping to slow down at least 1 or 2 days before.)
On Sunday, April 10, all 6 vice presidential candidates are expected to face off at the University of Santo Tomas for the first and only Comelec-organized debate. CNN Philippines and Business Mirror are the partner media agencies for the Sunday debate.
The “slow down” concept is nothing new for Robredo. Prior to the Go Negosyo vice presidential forum in March, Robredo opted out of major rallies with her standard-bearer Manuel Roxas II, instead sending daughter Aika to stump on her behalf.
Robredo’s eldest daughter has taken over campaigning duties for the Camarines Sur representative as Roxas barnstormed Guimaras, Antique, and Aklan recently. She will also be campaigning in behalf of Robredo in Cebu on Friday, April 8.
But the LP’s vice presidential bet did campaign for a few hours on Thursday with residents of Tondo, Manila.
The debate comes at a crucial time for Robredo – her numbers are on the rise with a month to go before election day.
Still, her preference numbers have been less than stellar, particular in areas that have the most voters. Robredo and Roxas register low in the vote-rich National Capital Region and nearby provinces.
Metro Manila is home to over 6.25 million registered voters while nearby Calabarzon and Central Luzon regions are home to more than 13 million voters combined.
Robredo has made it a point to attend several vice presidential forums in the past. Only Robredo and independent vice presidential candidate Senator Francis Escudero attended a University of the Philippines Diliman forum in December 2015.
She also squared off with Escudero, Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr, and Senator Antonio Trillanes IV during a Go Negosyo debate in March.
One of the highlights of that debate was when Robredo called Marcos out for the senator’s explanation – and justification – of martial law. The namesake and only son of the late dictator, Marcos said insurgencies then made martial law necessary. (READ: Robredo, Marcos face off on martial law at VP forum)
Robredo countered by asking why extrajudicial killings and media shutdowns happened if insurgencies were the real motivation for martial law. The Camarines Sur representative also said her stance against martial law and its return is nothing “personal” but a matter of demanding justice for human rights abuse victims and ensuring the return of billions stolen from the country’s coffers.
Of all candidates for the vice presidency, it’s Robredo who has taken a firm and clear stance against the decades the country was placed under martial law.
Robredo is also the sole female candidate and the only one who has yet to hold a national post – all of her rivals are incumbent senators. – Rappler.com
Read about other vice presidential candidates’ debate preparations: