2022 PH vice presidential race

Pangilinan stays unfazed: It’s the people who will decide in the end, not politicians

Mara Cepeda
Pangilinan stays unfazed: It’s the people who will decide in the end, not politicians

"LABAN." Vice presidential candidate Senator Kiko Pangilinan flashes the "Laban" sign as he sits beside presidential bet VP Leni Robredo during their mini rally in Maigo, Lanao del Norte on March 31, 2022.

Dante Diosina Jr./Team Kiko Pangilinan

The vice presidential candidate, who was not endorsed by some politicians backing Leni Robredo, says he would continue courting voters with his pro-agriculture and food security platform

MANILA, Philippines – Vice presidential candidate Senator Kiko Pangilinan is undeterred by some politicians’ refusal to endorse him, saying that it would be the voters who would ultimately decide the winners of the May elections. 

In a chance interview with reporters in Maigo, Lanao del Norte, the running mate of presidential candidate and Vice President Leni Robredo said regardless of political support – or the lack thereof – he would continue courting voters with his pro-agriculture and food security platform.

“So in the end, ang taumbayan ang magpapasya, hindi ng mga pulitiko…. Ang message natin, lalabanan natin ang gutom at tututukan ang problema ng kawalan lalo na sa mga probinsya at bibigyang diin ang agriculture at mga magsasaka at mangingsida,” said Pangilinan on Thursday, March 31. 

(So in the end, it’s the people who will decide in the end, not politicians…. Our message is we will fight hunger, and focus on the problems of unemployment in the provinces, and highlight agriculture and the farmers and fisherfolk.)

“So hayaan na natin ‘yung mga pulitiko gawin ang gusto nila, pero tayo nakatutok sa ating mga kababayan at sila naman talaga ang magpapasiya pagdating ng araw ng halalan,” he added.

(So let the politicians do what they want to do, but I will focus on our countrymen and they would be the ones to decide on election day.)

More and more politicians have been coming out to back Robredo for president in the past weeks, but not all of them are supporting Pangilinan.

In Borongan City, Eastern Samar, Pangilinan agreed not to show up at the grand rally organized for Robredo after finding out that the local officials were only willing to endorse her.

In doing so, the president of the once-ruling Liberal Party (LP), is making the ultimate sacrifice for his presidential bet, if only to ensure that local politicians would go all out in endorsing Robredo.

Some politicians have been pushing for different tandem combinations with Robredo instead, either with Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte or Senate President Vicente Sotto III. There are also groups pushing for an Isko Moreno-Duterte tandem.

A veteran lawmaker, Pangilinan understands these unavoidable scenarios in Philippine politics, where politicians tend to gravitate towards a candidate they believe is gaining momentum on the campaign trail. 

Pangilinan hopes he would be able to ride this “pink” wave too, enough to convince pro-Robredo politicians to extend the same support to him in the coming weeks.

“The people are coming out in tens of thousands. Nararamdaman ng pulitiko ‘yon kaya nga ine-endorse na si VP. Eh pagka mas lalo nila maramdaman, dadating din ang panahon, baka ako na rin ang i-endorse nila. So, tingnan natin. Marami pang mangyayari,” he said. 

(The people are coming out in the tens of thousands [in the rallies]. Politicians can feel that, that’s why they are endorsing VP. If they continue to feel the groundswell of support, then perhaps the day would come when they would endorse me too. So, let’s see. A lot can still can happen.)

Pangilinan was supposed to seek Senate reelection, in what would have been an easy fight for him, as he was well within the so-called “Magic 12” in pre-election surveys then. 

Knowing he had a responsibility to fulfill, Pangilinan agreed to be Robredo’s running mate after unity talks with other candidates fell through.

“This is a call of duty,” said an emotional Pangilinan in October 2021, as he explained why he stepped up not just for Robredo and the LP, but for the rest of the nation in 2022. – Rappler.com

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 mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.