CAMARINES SUR, Philippines – A government that listens, does not steal, and would be with you even in the darkest moments – this is the promise of Leni Robredo if she wins the presidency in the May elections.
It’s a homage to the tsinelas leadership or the accessible and people-centered brand of governance that her late husband Jesse Robredo was known for when he was Naga City mayor.
It is also the same kind of governance that Robredo herself had been championing since that fateful day in August 2012, when a plane crash took away Jesse’s life and thrusted her into the national political spotlight.
“Susuotan natin ng tsinelas ang gobyerno at patatawirin sa mga pilapil papunta sa iyo. Sa ating pamamahala, laylayan ang magiging bagong sentro,” she told her supporters in her home turf Naga City during her proclamation rally on Tuesday, February 8. Her campaign team estimated the crowd to be over 15,000.
(We are going to put slippers on the government and make it cross embankments to reach you. Under my leadership, the margins of society will be the new center.)
Robredo said she envisioned a proactive government that would ensure the welfare of small businesses, indigenous peoples, the urban poor, and farmers and fisherfolk.
“Isang pamahalaang magmamadaling sumaklolo ‘pag dumaing ka, makikipagpuyatan para mapaginhawa ka, lulusong sa baha para iahon ka (A government that would quickly come to the rescue if you have any grievance, that would stay up all night to improve your life, that would wade through floodwaters to save you),” she said.
Known for her clean track record that delivers results, Robredo has promised to rebuild trust in the government and to end selective justice through an anti-corruption program that would spare no one, even her own allies.
On Tuesday, she renewed her vow to get rid of the “old and rotten” politics that has plagued the country for generations. It is not easy to defeat, Robredo said, but she knows Nagaueños have seen for themselves what it would take to beat this monster – by electing leaders who are honest, decent, and excellent.
“Dito ko sa Naga nakilala si Jesse. Dito namin binuo ang aming pamilya. Pero higit sa lahat, dito ko sa Naga nakita na ang luma at bulok na klase ng politika, kayang talunin ng matino, mahusay, masipag, at makataong pamamahala,” said Robredo, the crowd cheering their lungs out.
(Here in Naga, I met Jesse. This is where we raised our family. But most of all, here in Naga, we have already seen that the old and rotten style of politics can be defeated by a decent, excellent, hardworking, and humane leadership.)
Robredo, a native of Naga, was once a low-key political wife to Jesse. She never aspired to run for public office, finding fulfillment in her work as a development worker and as an alternative lawyer who represented abused women and indigent Filipinos in court.
But everything changed when Jesse died. The people of Naga ached for Robredo to continue what Jesse started.
After much prodding, Robredo ran for Camarines Sur congresswoman in 2013, and slayed the well-entrenched Villafuerte clan in the province. In 2016, she bested five male – all incumbent – senators in the vice presidential race.
Now, Robredo was once again called to step up, this time for the highest post in the land. If she wins in 2022, she would be the third female president and the first Bicolano to sit in Malacañang.
Robredo out to win
But the road to the presidency is a tough one for Robredo.
Her critics, even some of her male opponents in the presidential race, have belittled her for being a woman, a foul narrative perpetuated by disinformation networks in her past five years as Vice President.
She is up against the vaunted money and machinery of her bitter rival Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., the dictator’s son whom Robredo defeated in the 2016 vice presidential race but who is now leading the presidential contest in 2022.
Is Robredo afraid? Of course not, she said.
“Pinanday na natin ang plano, matagal nang isinasabuhay ang prinsipyo, at matagal na ring napatunayan ang angat-buhay na dala nito. Handa tayong humarap kahit kanino,” she said at the proclamation rally.
(I’ve already hammered out the plan, I’ve lived by my principles, and I’ve long proven that this leads to uplifted lives. I am ready to face anyone.)
All the trials she has faced in her life – her husband’s death, raising her three daughters on her own, winning two succeeding elections despite being underestimated, and doing her work as vice president without administration support and amid a sustained online disinformation campaign against her – are proof of her readiness to take on even bigger challenges, say her supporters.
The presidentil aspirant reiterated that she draws strength from her supporters and volunteers – collectively known as “Kakampinks” – all over the country and abroad, who are ready back her in her new fight.
“Hindi ako natatakot. Hindi ako kinakabahan, dahil nang tinawag ko kayo na gisingin ang natutulog pang lakas, buong-buo ang naging tugon ‘nyo,” said Robredo, citing all the relief drives and initiatives that her supporters have been doing to boost her campaign these past months.
(I am not afraid. I am not nervous, because when I called on you to awaken your untapped strength, you responded wholeheartedly.)
The odds may be against Robredo once again, but she is undeterred. In the 2022 presidential race, Leni Robredo is out to win. She again urged all her supporters from all sectors and walks of life to come together and unite behind her.
“Pag-asa, pakikiisa, pagkakaisa. Dito tayo tumataya. Dito tayo tumitindig. Ihanda na ang mga bisig, dahil tinitiyak ko: Walang kayang tumumbas sa pinagbigkis nating lakas,” she said. (Hope, cooperation, unity. This is what we’re betting on. This is where we stand. Get ready to link arms, because I assure you: No one can match our united strength.)
“Kaya, tara na. Ipanalo na natin ito (So, let’s go. Let’s win this),” she added.
Check this page for other stories, videos, and developments related to the campaign kickoff of the Robredo-Pangilinan tandem: HIGHLIGHTS: Leni Robredo-Kiko Pangilinan proclamation rally