2022 Philippine Elections

‘Nothing personal’: Alvarez’s past attacks now water under the bridge for Robredo

Mara Cepeda

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‘Nothing personal’: Alvarez’s past attacks now water under the bridge for Robredo

ALLIANCE. Vice President Leni Robredo joins Davao del Norte 1st District Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez, Governor Edwin Jubahib, and other local officials in a press conference where they endorsed her presidential bid at the Davao del Norte Provincial Capitol in Tagum City on Thursday, March 24. (VP Leni Media Bureau)

VP Leni Media Bureau

The presidential candidate says she welcomed members of Partido Reporma with open arms precisely because she wants to be seen as a unifying figure in this elections

DAVAO DEL NORTE, Philippines – Davao del Norte 1st District Representative Pantaleon Alvarez once called her “shameless.” He even thought of impeaching her as Vice President once. 

But for presidential candidate Leni Robredo, that’s all water under the bridge. 

In accepting the endorsement of President Rodrigo Duterte’s erstwhile ally on Thursday, March 24, Robredo had somehow moved past the vicious statements Alvarez threw at her back when he was House speaker.  

What matters now, she said, is that they are both fighting for the return of good governance in the country. Confronted with their complicated political past, Alvarez turned to Robredo to apologize. But the lone female presidential candidate said he did not need to. 

‘Nothing personal’: Alvarez’s past attacks now water under the bridge for Robredo

“Unang-una, speaker, you do not need to apologize. Kasi over the course of our service naman to the country, merong mga bagay na ‘di talaga mapagkakasunduan. ‘Yung mga magkakampi, hindi naman expected na nagkakasundo sa lahat ng mga bagay,” Robredo said in her press conference with Alvarez and local leaders in Davao del Norte. 

(First of all, speaker, you do not need to apologize. Because over the course of our service to the country, there really are things we would disagree on. We don’t even expect allies to always agree with each other all the time.)

“Kami, wala naman kaming personal. Wala sa amin na personal na disagreement (So this isn’t personal to us. I don’t take disagreements personally),” she added. 

In a surprise move, Alvarez and the Partido Reporma – which he revived for the 2022 elections – dropped their standard-bearer Senator Panfilo Lacson and shifted their allegiance to Robredo. 

The dealbreaker for many Reporma members in this province was Lacson’s poor showing in the surveys. Robredo is still a far second placer to the current frontrunner, the late dictator’s son Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., but Alvarez and his allies believe she is gaining ground. 

They endorsed her following weeks of Robredo rallies being attended by tens of thousands of supporters. The biggest one yet was staged only four days ago in Pasig City, a show of force with over 130,000 “Kakampink” supporters in attendance. 

Robredo said she welcomed members of Partido Reporma with open arms precisely because she wanted to be seen as a unifying figure in this elections. She chairs the once-ruling Liberal Party but decided to run as an independent candidate to make it easier to coalesce with other sectors. 

Sinabi ko sa inyo ‘yun ‘yung aking mensahe, ang pinakamensahe nung pag-file ko as independent: Bukas ako sa lahat. Bukas ako sa lahat as long as nagkakaisa ang aming hangarin para ayusin ang ating bansa, said Robredo. 

(I have already told you that my main message in filing as an independent is this: I am open to all. I am open to all as long as we are one in our aspirations to fix our country.)

She conceded she and Alvarez may disagree on many things. Alvarez used to be a loyal defender of Duterte, slamming Robredo in the past for criticizing the President’s bloody war on drugs. 

So impassioned was Alvarez in defending Duterte that he once mulled filing an impeachment complaint against Robredo in 2017. 

But things changed when Alvarez was ousted as speaker in 2018, with Duterte’s own daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte among the key figures behind it. She is now running for vice president alongside Marcos. 

For Robredo and Alvarez, their common goal is to prevent the kind of politics being represented by the Marcos-Duterte tandem to return to Malacañang. 

‘Yung Reporma naman, pareho ang aming hangarin: to fix our country through good governance. And nagkakasundo kami na pareho po ‘yung aming pinaglalaban. Meron siguro kaming hindi pinagkasunduan in the past, and most probably hindi kami aligned sa lahat ng bagay. Pero ang parati ko diyan sinasabi, na ang pinakamahalaga ay ‘yung mga bagay na pinagkakasunduan ‘nyo, hindi ‘yung mga bagay na hindi ‘nyo pinagkakasunduan, said Robredo. 

(Partido Reporma and I share the same goals: to fix our country through good governance. And we are one in fighting for that. We did have disagreements in the past, and most probably we are not aligned in many things. But I’ve always said that what’s more important are the things we agree on, not the things we disagree on.)

In this case, pareho din kami ni speaker Alvarez na naniniwala na ‘yung bansa natin, ‘yung pinaka-interes natin sa eleksyon na ito, ano ‘yung pinakamakakabuti para sa bansa natin,” she added. 

(In this case, speaker Alvarez and I share in our beliefs, in our interests in this elections, in what we believe to be the best for the country.)

This is an unlikely but strategic alliance that is expected to boost Robredo’s numbers in the Davao Region. 

Robredo lost by a huge margin in Davao in the 2016 vice-presidential race as Davaoeños then favored Duterte’s running mate, Alan Peter Cayetano. Marcos was in second place and Robredo, a distant third. – Rappler.com

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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.