MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo said she has “great faith” in the military, with whom she has had what she described as a “healthy” relationship over the last six years even if she had been at odds with their commander-in-chief.
Robredo said this in #WeDecide: First 100 Days, a presidential interview series by Rappler CEO and Nobel laureate Maria Ressa, aired on Wednesday night, April 20.
Ressa asked Robredo where the military stands and how she would command them in a hypothetical situation where supporters of a failed rival refuse to acknowledge her presidency and stage an ouster movement similar to the EDSA 3 uprising.
“I have great faith in them…. It’s not a very intimate relationship, but it’s based on respect. And I think that’s more important than personal relationships,” the presidential candidate said.
Robredo noted that the Armed Forces of the Philippines is a professional organization and that soldiers join the AFP “because of their great love for country.”
“Ang paniniwala ko talaga, na ‘pag binigyan mo sila ng choice between good and evil, parating pipiliin nila ‘yung kabutihan. Kailangan lang nila makita na sincere ako sa ginagawa ko, na seryoso ako sa trabaho,” she said.
(My belief is that if you give them a choice between good and evil, they will always choose good. They just have to see that I’m sincere in what I’m doing, and that I’m serious in my work.)
This belief is anchored on her experience as a vice president who has been marginalized by the commander-in-chief. Robredo got a Cabinet position early in the Duterte presidency but was forced to resign after just a few months as she was banned from attending Cabinet meetings. As the opposition leader, she was also at the receiving end of Duterte’s tirades.
“Over the six years, I’ve been through a lot. I have been at the receiving end of a lot of things. Pero ‘yung military, at least a great majority of them, very healthy ‘yung relationship namin (But the military, at least a great majority of them, we have a very healthy relationship),” she said.
During her vice presidency, Robredo received security briefings from the military even when she was continually being attacked by President Rodrigo Duterte and his allies.
While there have been attempts to portray Robredo as a potentially weak president, at least four former chiefs of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and a number of retired military generals and senior officers have endorsed her presidential bid.
Former defense officials, former Philippine National Police chiefs, and retired police generals and senior police officials have also come out to support Robredo’s presidental bid, saying they have full trust in her ability to lead and protect the nation.
Robredo’s platform for security, “Angat sa Seguridad,” which includes upholding the rights of the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea and responding to the “root cause” of the communist insurgency by responding to neglected communities.