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CEBU CITY, Philippines – Ikaw Muna Pilipinas (IM Pilipinas) Visayas’ chapter announced it is shifting support from Isko Moreno to the candidacy of Vice President Leni Robredo for president on Monday, April 4.
“We decided in the IM Pilipinas, a couple of days ago, that we will shift support to Leni,” Nick Malazarte, Visayas coordinator for IM Pilipinas said in a press conference.
IM Pilipinas was one of the leading groups who called on Manila Mayor Isko Moreno to run for president as early as July 2021.
As to why the group shifted support to the vice president, Malazarte listed two reasons: That Moreno is doing poorly in the surveys, and Robredo has the best chance of stopping Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the current pre-election survey frontrunner 2022 Philippine elections
“We still maintain that Isko is really good, iyang gibuhat sa Manila, tanan (and everything he’s done for Manila),” Malazarte said.
“But the thing is, the numbers are not working for him. So, even [on] Facebook, and other social media platforms, the conversation is between Leni and BBM (Marcos),” he added.
While Malazarte said that he believes the national leadership of IM Pilipinas would follow the Visayas’ lead in shifting its support to Robredo, Tim Orbos, lead convenor of IM Pilipinas, told Rappler that he did not authorize their Visayas chapter’s press conference although he was informed over the weekend of their plans.
Orbos said he still supports Moreno.
“I am still with Yorme,” he told Rappler in a phone call.
But he also said their group is pushing for the resumption of unity talks among top presidential bets to rally behind a single candidate with the greatest chance of beating Marcos Jr.
IM Pilipinas, he said, would support that candidate.
Malazarte explained that he made the announcement ahead of time because election day is drawing nearer and the threat of a Marcos win is “imminent.”
“IM Pilipinas, about 90% came from the ranks of activists, during the time of Marcos,” Malazarte explained in a mix of Cebuano and English.
“But, since we experienced what life was like under Marcos, we know all those things said about him (e.g. golden years of the Marcos presidency) on social media platforms are not really true,” Malazarte added.
Malazarte told Rappler in a separate interview that, so far, the only alignment IM Pilipinas Visayas has with Robredo’s platform is her pandemic response and her being anti-Marcos.
“Basically, Leni is good. But we still feel Yorme is better,” Malazarte said, explaining the alliance was for more pragmatic purposes.
“Pandemic response she was good, just like Isko. They were the only two nga naa diha (who were there), while the government neglected the people. And she’s anti-Marcos,” he added.
He said, however, he was open to meeting with Robredo’s supporters to explore where they align in terms of policies and platforms.
“You can see, everything is spontaneous,” Malazarte said about the Robredo campaign.
“You can see, you can see people walking to rallies from Manila. You can see on Facebook, YouTube, everything, you can see there is clamor for her to become the leader of this country. If you think that Isko is the best, and she is better, but the other choice is the worst on our part, because it will be BBM. Because the contest is now between BBM and Vice President Leni.” he added.
Robredo’s spokesperson Barry Gutierrez reacted to IM Pilipinas’ Visayas chapter throwing their support behind Robredo.
“We truly welcome their support. As VP Leni said last night, our strength comes from people coming together in hope. In the past six months, this is what has allowed us to contest the money and machinery of rival campaigns,” Gutierrez said.
“We trust that in the remaining 35 days, even more will join the people’s campaign, united by the promise, and the hope, of a better, kinder nation,” he added.
While the group is set on supporting Robredo, they are still deciding if they would support her running mate Kiko Pangilinan for vice president.
“There are ongoing talks,” Malazarte said. “But we haven’t decided on that. Our main concern is to stop the Marcos victory. That’s all. Everything else is negotiable,” he added.
Earlier in March, the group called for people to support Isko for president with Sara Duterte as their vice president.
IM’s Visayas leader said since the shift is a recent development, they do not yet have specific plans if they would consolidate their efforts with existing Robredo campaign groups or mount their own.
“Naa mi nastoryaan taga Manila. Visayas IM mao na nag una (I spoke to some people from Manila. Visayas IM we’re the ones who declared [support for Robredo] first),” Malazarte said.
“I’m the first to call a press conference and show our support for VP Leni. Pero mao na niduol ko sa mga tawo ni (But I approached the people of) VP Leni. I still don’t know how we will phase into the campaign,” he added.
Ikaw Muna (IM) Pilipinas, previously said it has chapters all over the country, although Malazarte could not give exact numbers. (READ: Isko Moreno volunteer network present in 53 provinces and counting – convenor) – with reports from Pia Ranada, Mara Cepeda/Rappler.com