Robredo: Otso Diretso to rely on ‘unmatched dedication’ of Cebu volunteers

Mara Cepeda
Robredo: Otso Diretso to rely on ‘unmatched dedication’ of Cebu volunteers
'Basta tayo ang gagalaw, walang imposible,' tells members of the Ahon Laylayan Coalition in Cebu City, where she campaigned for opposition senatorial candidates

CEBU CITY, Philippines – Opposition senatorial bets are banking heavily on their campaign volunteers and sectoral representatives to help them woo the coveted Cebuano vote.

Vice President Leni Robredo on Thursday, February 21, rallied support for the Otso Diretso senatorial candidates before members of the Ahon Laylayan Coalition in this vote-rich province of more than 3 million voters.

“Ipapakita po natin na talo ng ordinaryong mamamayan ‘yung sinasabing malalakas. Basta tayo ang gagalaw, walang imposible (We will show that the ordinary citizen can beat those who are said to be strong [candidates]. As long as we are the ones mobilizing, nothing is impossible),” said Robredo.

Her conviction drew loud applause from the crowd composed mostly of representatives of different sectors: women, transportation groups, laborer, farmers, fisherfolk, Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program beneficiaries, solo parents, persons with disabilities, cooperatives, formal and informal sectors, youth, senior citizens, and the urban poor.

In an interview with reporters after her speech, the Vice President said the dedication of the sectoral groups to campaign for Otso Diretso will be crucial for the senatorial ticket.

“In fact, nakita na namin ‘yun several times dito lang sa Cebu. Kaya nakakataba ng puso kasi kahapon pa, nandito na ko at ang dami ko nang nakakausap na talagang sila ‘yung naglalakad,” said Robredo 

(In fact, we’ve seen this several times here in Cebu. It warms my heart because I’ve been here yesterday and I’ve spoken to a lot of people who are campaigning on their own.) 

The Vice President shared she is friends with a group of Cebuano lawyers who have been spending their after-office hours and their weekends campaigning for Otso Diretso. 

“‘Yung sa akin, hindi mababayaran eh, hindi mababayaran, hindi masusuklian ‘yong ganoong klaseng dedication (For me, you cannot match that kind of dedication),” said Robredo.

Because they are the opposition coalition’s candidates, Otso Diretso only has a few political allies in Cebu.

Among their remaining allies here is Cebu Governor Hilario Davide III, a Liberal Party member.  But he was not able to join the slate during their rounds in Cebu City on Thursday due to a previous commitment.

‘Tried and tested’

Asked if it would be sustainable to rely primarily on volunteers in the most vote-rich province in the country, Robredo recalled her own campaign for Camarines Sur congresswoman in 2013, her vice presidential bid in 2016, as well as the past campaigns of her late husband, longtime Naga City mayor turned interior chief Jesse Robredo. 

“Ako kasi, nasubukan ko na ‘to ilang eleksyon, mula pa noong elekyson ng asawa ko, eleksyon ko noong 2013 sa Kongreso, ‘yong eleksyon ko sa 2016. Wala talagang masyadong resources kumpara sa iba. Pero malaking bahagi ng kampanya ‘yung mga volunteers kasi lumalabas, mas desidido magtrabaho,” said the Vice President.

(I have tried and tested this in the past elections, from the elections of my husband, my election in 2013 to Congress, and my election in 2016. We didn’t have a lot of resources compared to others. But a big part of the campaign was volunteers because they are dedicated to the job.) 

She reiterated the slate is “realistic” in its approach, acknowledging how difficult it is to campaign without enough funds and manpower as compared to the candidates of the administration who can afford to stage grand rallies and pay for multiple television ads. 

“Pero tingin ko, kahit mahirap ‘yon, nako-compensate siya ng passion ng mga volunteers na hindi umiinda ng oras saka ng pagod (But I think, even if this is hard, this [lack of resources] is compensated by the passion of the volunteers who endure long hours and fatigue),” Robredo said. –


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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 or tweet @maracepeda.