Opposition hopes to repeat Robredo’s 2016 victory for Senate bets

Mara Cepeda
Opposition hopes to repeat Robredo’s 2016 victory for Senate bets


'Hindi ba meron tayong isang kandidato na from 1% to Vice President? Nasubukan na po natin noon. Uulitin natin para sa 8,' Team Pilipinas convenor Maria Cecila Reyes tells volunteers for the opposition's 2019 campaign

MANILA, Philippines – The Oposisyon Koalisyon and its volunteers are hoping to turn their senatorial candidates’ mostly dismal pre-election survey numbers into victory come the May 2019 polls, inspired by the feat of Vice President Leni Robredo in the last national elections,

Team Pilipinas, the official name of some 2,500 volunteers for the opposition campaign, launched their group in a mini-concert held at a Quezon City food park on Thursday night, November 29.

Former Alicia, Isabela mayor Maria Cecilia Reyes, Team Pilipinas convenor, acknowledged it will be difficult to campaign for all 8 bets. Only former interior secretary Mar Roxas has so far made it into the so-called winner’s circle in the latest pre-election survey. (READ: Opposition’s Senate bets unfazed by poor survey numbers)

But Reyes remains hopeful, recalling that when Robredo ran for vice president in 2016, she started with poor survey numbers, too. (READ: From 1% to Vice President: Robredo inagurated as VP)

“Alam ko po na it’s an uphill battle. Siguro it’s an uphill battle, pero nasubukan naman po natin. ‘Di ba meron tayong isang kandidato na from 1% to Vice President? Nasubukan na po natin noon. Uulitin natin para sa 8,” said Reyes, earning her cheers from the crowd. 

(I know it’s an uphill battle. But even then, we had done this before. Don’t we have a candidate that from 1% became Vice President? We did this before. We can do this again for the 8.) 

Reyes was referring to Robredo’s initial voters’ preference rating in her vice presidential bid, which began at 1% in earlier pre-election surveys, but slowly climbed as more voters got to know her and her platform.

TEAM PILIPINAS CONVENOR. Former Alicia, Isabela mayor Jeng Reyes rallies Team Pilipinas to campaign for the opposition in 2019.

Who are the Senate bets of the Oposisyon Koalisyon? The opposition is fielding a total of 8:

  • Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano
  • Senator Bam Aquino
  • Human rights lawyer Chel Diokno
  • Marawi civic leader Samira Gutoc
  • Former solicitor general Florin Hilbay
  • Veteran election lawyer Romulo Macalintal
  • Former Quezon representative Erin Tañada
  • Former interior secretary Mar Roxas 

During the Team Pilipinas launch, however, only Alejano, Gutoc, Hilbay, and Macalintal were present. The rest had previous commitments and could not make it to the event.

Also present during the Team Pilipinas launch were opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros and Liberal Party (LP)stalwarts Quezon City 3rd District Representative Jorge Banal and Caloocan City 2nd District Representative Edgar Erice.

What message should Team Pilipinas convey about the aspirants? Senator Francis Pangilinan, LP president, told the volunteers that they should focus on how each senatorial hopeful will be able to help address the issues of high prices of goods, jobs, wages, and poverty. 

The Oposisyon Koalisyon campaign manager also told Team Pilipinas members that they should campaign not just for individuals in the slate, but all 8 senatorial bets as well. (READ: Oposisyon Koalisyon’s goal in 2019: Gov’t with ‘heart for the people’)

CAMPAIGN MANAGER. Senator Kiko Pangilinan tells Team Pilipinas how to campaign for the opposition's senatorial lineup.

“[Ang mga isyu na ito ang] pinakamahalaga na usapin ng ating mga kababayan at may kinalaman sa paghihirap dahil sa pagtaas ng presyo ng mga bilihin, dahil sa paghahanap-buhay at trabaho. At ‘yan ba ang natutugunan ng gobyernong ito?” said Pangilinan. 

(These are the issues that our countrymen feel most strongly about, things that involve their plight due to high prices of goods, livelihood,  jobs. Is the government addressing this?)

“At kapag ito ang ating maipapaliwanag sa mga kababayan natin, na tayo bilang 8, ‘yan ang ipaglalaban natin, ang kanilang kapakanan, palagay ko mas marami tayong makukumbinsi at mas marami tayong makukuhang boto sa mga kababayan natin,” he added. 

(And if we are able to explain to our countrymen that our 8 senatorial aspirants will work on these issues, will fight for their welfare, I think we will be able to convince more people and get more votes.) – Rappler.com

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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 mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.