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CEBU, Philippines – Eastern Samar Governor Ben Evardone endorsed Vice President Leni Robredo for president early morning on Monday, March 14.
Evardone said in his statement that President Rodrigo Duterte “virtually endorsed” Robredo for president, referring to comments the latter made in an interview with SMNI, saying the next leader of the Philippines should be a “compassionate lawyer.”
“We welcome and support the high bar President Duterte has set for his successor. He knows whereof he speaks, and we understand it. It is the same standard with which he tries to measure himself in governing the nation,” Evardone said.
“For me and for millions of Filipinos, there is only one decisive and compassionate lawyer among those aspiring to be President and she is VP Leni,” Evardone added.
Evardone is an ally of President Rodrigo Duterte, but has been tagged in several photos of activities of the “kakampinks” – or what the supporters of Robredo call themselves.
“VP Leni has been very consistent on her pro-poor programs and advocacies. She has gone to far-flung barangays in the country to deliver services and listen to the cry of the marginalized sectors of our society,” the Eastern Samar governor said.
Asked why he focused on Duterte, Evardone replied, “It’s my reaction to his statement.”
Evardone, a former member of Congress, had allied himself with all the ruling administrations, including Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, and Duterte.
In February, eight Eastern Samar mayors – who govern in a region known as the bailiwick of the Marcoses – backed Robredo for president following an event where thousands of supporters in the province held a caravan supporting her presidential bid. (READ: 8 Eastern Samar mayors back Robredo as thousands join caravan)
Borongan Mayor Dayan Agda and local journalist Alren Beronio previously told Rappler the Robredo caravan was the first time they noted people pooling their own resources to campaign for a national candidate.
“This is the first time na may nag-aambagan (people pooling resources) for a politician dito sa Eastern Samar. As Mayor Dayan stated, that’s true talaga ngayon lang ito ganito (this has never happened before),” Beronio told Rappler in February.
The governor was a former journalist who covered the last few years of the regime of late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos who worked with Philippine journalism icon of resistance Jose Burgos, who founded We Forum and Ang Pahagayang Malaya.
Evardone was also student council president at the University of the East in 1983.
He did not say if he was supporting Robredo’s running mate Kiko Pangilinan for vice president. His party PDP-Laban is supporting Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte for vice president, but they do not have a standard-bearer.
PDP-Laban secretary-general and Cabinet Secretary Melvin Matibag said in a statement Monday afternoon, “We haven’t conferred personally with Evardone, I only heard of his purported endorsement of VP Leni in the news.”
Evardone is also the ruling party’s vice president for the Visayas.
“We respect Gov Evardone’s personal choice but, again, we reiterate: PDP-Laban will support the candidate who will embrace and continue the party’s 11-Point Agenda, which encapsulates the successful programs of the Duterte administration,” Matibag added.
Eastern Samar has over 330,000 registered voters. – Rappler.com