MANILA, Philippines – Presidential candidate and Vice President Leni Robredo gained the endorsement of at least 47 former government officials who had served under former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo – the tactician credited with cementing the alliance between dictator’s son Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Sara Duterte in the 2022 elections.
The former Cabinet secretaries and government officials released their statement on Wednesday, February 23, saying they believed that with Robredo, “we stay safe, restore our economy and social fabric, and keep our Republic whole and secure.”
“Many are beset by fear, anxiety, and lethargy. We need a strong woman in the house to rekindle our energy and resolve. Leni Robredo represents the tough love of our mothers. She has the tenacious will to persuade. She drives our communities along the path of resilience,” they said.
The group also highlighted Robredo’s fitness as commander-in-chief who can protect the Philippines against China’s incursions in the West Philippine Sea, which have continued despite the Duterte administration’s pivot to China.
“She is rock-steady for military might, human security, and peace talks. She guards our Exclusive Economic Zone with constant vigilance and honorable diplomacy. As President, Chief Diplomat, and Commander-in-Chief, Leni Robredo stands in front of our great battles, here and beyond our shores. Vote Leni Robredo. Let the Philippines lead,” they said.
Their endorsement is seen as a boost to Robredo’s uphill climb to Malacañang, in an elections where their former boss is backing the survey frontrunner, the late dictator’s son Marcos Jr.
They are the latest addition to the growing number of former government officials backing Robredo, including former career diplomats and military chiefs who served the administrations of Fidel Ramos, Arroyo, and the late Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.
Robredo is still in far second place to frontrunner Marcos Jr. in major pre-election polls, with her numbers even dipping by four points in the latest Pulse Asia Research, Incorporated survey.
Arroyo is president emeritus of Lakas-CMD, which announced on Tuesday, February 21, that the party was backing Marcos Jr. for president. Arroyo played a key role in sealing the alliance between Marcos Jr. and the Davao City mayor, who had agreed to slide down as the former’s running mate even if she was ahead of him in pre-election surveys on presidential bets.
‘Iron fist of the law gloved in science, faith, creativity’
Some of the signatories backing Robredo were also members of the “Hyatt 10,” a group of officials who had resigned from the Arroyo government on July 8, 2005, following charges of electoral fraud against her in the wake of the Hello, Garci scandal – Teresita Deles, Florencio Abad, and Imelda Nicolas. They later served the Aquino administration.
The other former Arroyo Cabinet officials backing Robredo are former Office of the President communications director Silvestre Afable Jr., former health secretary Manuel Dayrit, former press secretary Ignacio Bunye, former education secretaries Jesli Lapus and Edilberto de Jesus, and former defense chief Avelino Cruz.
In their statement, the former officials presented Robredo as a listening, calming, and strong leader who can help the country weather the challenges ahead.
“Climate change is here – floods, stronger typhoons, and deadly droughts. Domestic threats such as organized crime, phishing, drugs, and terror are unabated. We can only fight back with the iron fist of the law gloved in science, faith, and creativity. Leni Robredo is a bearer of balance, calm and hope,” they said.
Multisectoral groups and politicians have started coming out to voice support for Robredo, the opposition leader under Duterte who has been on the receiving end of the most vicious attacks and disinformation online.
Even officials who had served under sectors that are traditionally silent and apolitical – the military and the foreign service – have released statements supporting Robredo for president.
Just recently, former senators Sergio Osmeña III, Ramon Magsaysay Jr., Rodolfo Biazon, and Wigberto Tañada publicly endorsed Robredo.
Read the full copy of the former Arroyo officials’ endorsement of Robredo, as well as the full list of signatories,: