2022 Philippine Elections

No substitutions for Leni-Kiko tandem, says Pangilinan

No substitutions for Leni-Kiko tandem, says Pangilinan

TROPA TANDEM. Vice President Leni Robredo and running mate Senator Kiko Pangilinan met the members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan ng Batangas at the Batangas Provincial Capitol in Batangas City, on November 10, 2021.

Photo by Jay Ganzon / OVP

'We owe it to our supporters really to do as best we can and fight until the very end,' says VP aspirant Senator Kiko Pangilinan

Vice presidential aspirant Senator Kiko Pangilinan said there will be no substitutions in his 2022 tandem with Vice President Leni Robredo.

Pangilinan said this at the Kapihan sa Manila Bay on Wednesday, November 10, where he was asked if he would be open to withdrawing his candidacy to make way for another running mate for Robredo. 

“In terms of itong mga substitution? Wala, wala na ‘yon. Inumpisahan na natin ‘to, and we can see the massive outpouring of support,” Pangilinan said.

(In terms of all these substitutions? No, that won’t happen.  We already started this, and we can see the massive outpouring of support.)

“We owe it to our supporters really to do as best we can and fight until the very end para maipanalo ang kandidatura ng Ka-TRoPa (to win the candidacy of Ka-TRoPa),” added Pangilinan, who was a reluctant vice presidential candidate.

“Ka-TRoPa” – taken from “tropa” or a group of friends – combines the first syllables of the names of Robredo and Pangilinan.

He was also asked about the withdrawal of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte from her city’s mayoral race, fueling speculations she would seek a national post.

Pangilinan said they had expected Sara Duterte’s move, noting it was the same political strategy employed by her father President Rodrigo Duterte in the 2016 polls. Then-mayor Rodrigo Duterte had filed his candidacy for reelection in October 2015 but withdrew it over a month later to substitute for standard-bearer of PDP Laban in 2016.

“Expected na ‘yan. Ginawa na nila ‘yan nung 2016 ‘yung sinasabing substitution. Inuulit lang nila ‘yung script, ika nga, so it’s no longer a surprise,” the senator said.

(We expected that. They already did that kind of substitution in 2016. They are just repeating the script, so it’s no longer a surprise.)

He reiterated this during a visit to Batangas with Robredo. “I expected this, and now that it’s happening. Basta kami tuloy-tuloy lang sa aming kampanya, sa pag-iikot. Sa pag-iikot, sa pagko-consolidate ng ating mga supporters.”

(In our case, we will just continue going around the country and consolidating our supporters.)

Electoral aspirants for next year’s elections have until November 15 to file for substitution.

Drawing the line
TROPA IN BATANGAS. Vice President Leni Robredo addresses a mutisectoral group of supporters at Sampaguita Farm on November 10, 2021. Photo by Jay Ganzon / OVP

In a separate press conference in Batangas on Wednesday, Robredo said the developments concerning Sara Duterte, who is widely speculated to run in tandem with presidential aspirant Bongbong Marcos, do not affect them. If anything, she said, it can work to their advantage.

Tingin ko, it can work to our advantage dahil mas klaro kung sino, ano iyong mga pinaglalaban, ano iyong mga paniniwala, [at] sino iyong magkakakampi,” Robredo said.

(I think it can work to our advantage because it is clearer who, what they are fighting for, what their beliefs are, and who their allies are.)

Robredo earlier hit the practice of substitutions during elections as a “mockery of election laws,” adding that the rules on it must be revisited.

At present, political parties can replace the original candidate they fielded, given that their first candidate dies, withdraws, or is disqualified by the Commission on Elections.

‘Unexpected’ welcome in Batangas

Members of various civil society organizations composed of transportation groups, professionals, health workers, youth groups and volunteer groups gathered in several locations in Batangas on Wednesday to welcome Robredo, Pangilinan, and some do their senatorial bets – Senator Risa Hontiveros, former senator Antonio Trillanes IV, former Ifugao congressman Teddy Baguilat Jr. and Sonny Matula.

Pink ribbons adorned the streets of Batangas City and supporters were clad in pink shirts, all differently designed as they were independently produced by each group. The tandem was accompanied by Batangas Vice Governor Mark Leviste II.

WARM WELCOME. Clad in pink, Batangueños give Vice President Leni Robredo a warm welcome as she visited the province of Batangas on November 10, 2021.
Photo by Jay Ganzon/OVP

In a forum at the Sampaguita farm in Batangas City, Robredo said the kind of support they witnessed during their Batangas visit exceeded their expectations, noting that she and Pangilinan had decided on their respective bids at the last minute.

“Alam naman namin even before I decided na maraming mga kaibigan, maraming mga dating kakampi mayroon ng commitments. And naiintindihan naman natin iyon…. Akala namin dito sa Batangas hindi na namin makikita iyong dating suporta na nakuha namin dati. Pero ngayon nararamdaman namin, parang iyong pakiramdam nga namin parang mas desidido pa iyong mga tao ngayon,” she said.

(We knew even before I decided that many friends, former allies have already made commitments. And we understand that…. We thought that we would no longer see the kind of support we previously got in here in Batangas. But now, we can feel that people have become even more decided now.)

Among those who joined the press conference were student writers and representatives of youth groups whom Robredo asked for help.

“Siguro iyong pinakatulong sa amin ng kabataan, turuan iyong taong bayan kung papaano maging discerning. Kasi pa-minsan, nadadala tayo sa husay ng pananalita. Minsan, madadala tayo sa tamis ng mga sinasabi. Pero iyon nga, at the end of the day, paano ko papaniwalaan iyong sinasabi mo?…Pero iyong matutulong siguro ng mga kabataan na nag-iisip na katulad niyo, sabihin kung sino kami,” she urged them.

(The youth can help us by teaching fellow Filipinos to be more discerning. Because sometimes, we get swayed by sweet talk. But at the end of the day, should we believe what you say?… The youth can help us by telling others who we are.)

After the press conference, the tandem’s group proceeded to the provincial capitol for a People’s Council Meeting.  Despite the prominent display of pink ribbons at the capitol gates, Batangas Governor Hermilando Mandanas said this did not signify an endorsement for Robredo.

“The Vice President borrowed our provincial auditorium for consultation and she will visit the provinvial vaccination center in the DREAM Zone…. Incidentally I am still working from home. Not in the Capitolyo today,” Mandanas said, adding that he has not pledged support to any presidential and vice presidential aspirants.

In Batangas City, Robredo met with local officials, including Batangas 5th District Representative Marvey Marino, Batangas City Mayor Beverly Rose Dimacuha, and Vice Mayor Emilio Francisco Berberabe, Jr. 


Among those who showed support for Robredo was labor leader Ruel Gutierrez Punzalan, the national president of Philippine Metal Workers Alliance which has about 15,000 members nationwide. He announced that their council has decided to support Robredo’s presidential bid.

LABOR LEADER FOR LENI. Labor leader Ruel Gutierrez Punzalan is the national president of the Philippine Metal Workers Alliance.
Photo by Tina Ganzon Ozaeta/Rappler

“Nakita po natin sa kanya ang husay ng kanyang pamumuno at napatunayan niya bilang Bise Presidente, malinis, walang kurapsyon….hindi nagsisinungaling, lahat tama ang sinasabi niya. ‘Yan ang hinahanap nating mamamayang Pilipino,” Punzalan said.

(We have seen her competent leadership and she has proven, as Vice President, that she is clean, no taint of corruption…she doesn’t lie, and everything that she’s been saying is correct. She’s the one that Filipinos are looking for.)

He said they have encouraged their members to donate one day’s salary to help Robredo’s campaign.

“Ang atin ho, mula sa baba, volunteer, mga batayang sektor tulad namin sa labor, kami ang mag-iinitiate para suportahan siya para sa ikauunlad ng bansang Pilipinas,” Punzalan said.

(On our part, from the botto, volunteers, basic sectors like ours in labor, we will initiate support for her for Philippine progress.) – Tina Ganzon-Ozaeta and Jacq Martinez/Rappler.com

Jacq Martinez is a Rappler intern. This article was reviewed by a Rappler reporter and editor. Learn more about Rappler’s internship program here.