MANILA, Philippines – Presidential candidate and Vice President Leni Robredo removed reelectionist senator Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri from her Senate slate after he openly endorsed her rival, the late dictator’s son Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.
Robredo’s spokesperson Barry Gutierrez said on Wednesday, April 27, that Zubiri was dropped from the ticket of Robredo and her running mate Senator Kiko Pangilinan after the Senate Majority Leader publicly supported Marcos in late March.
“Senator Migz Zubiri has been officially dropped from the Leni-Kiko Senate slate. His open endorsement of another presidential candidate, in contravention of the agreement with all guest candidates, led to this decision,” Gutierrez said in a statement.
Zubiri’s removal also comes just about a week after the veteran senator said Bongbong, who is leading major pre-election surveys so far, would not be a dictator like his father Ferdinand Marcos. The 21-year rule of the elder Marcos was marred by rampant corruption, killings, torture, disappearances, and media oppression.
He was deposed in the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution, but the Marcoses have since successfully returned to Philippine politics and have spent the past years changing Filipinos’ memories about Martial Law atrocities through their well-oiled disinformation networks.
Five candidates like Zubiri were included in Robredo’s ticket following an agreement with her camp that they would not be categorically endorsing any presidential candidate during the campaign.
The other four guest candidates in Robredo’s ticket include former vice president Jejomar Binay, reelectionist senators Richard “Dick” Gordon and Joel Villanueva, and Sorsogon Governor Francis “Chiz” Escudero.
Of the five, only Gordon regularly joins Robredo’s rallies. Gordon does not categorically endorse Robredo in his speeches, but he has been inserting lines praising Robredo’s leadership skills, and her Angat Buhay anti-poverty and pandemic relief programs.
The candidates forming the core group of the Robredo-Pangilinan ticket are reelectionist senators Leila de Lima and Risa Hontiveros, former senator Antonio Trillanes IV, former Ifugao representative Teddy Baguilat Jr., human rights lawyer Chel Diokno, book author and lawyer Alex Lacson, and labor leader Sonny Matula.
Robredo’s Senate slate for the 2022 elections was a powerhouse but controversial list, as several people in her ticket make for strange bedfellows given their previous conflicts years prior.
These include Binay and Trillanes, a staunch critic of the longtime Makati mayor hounded by corruption cases, as well as De Lima and Gordon, who has been criticized for enabling the Duterte machinery’s vicious attacks against the most prominent political detainee of this administration.
De Lima has been jailed for the past five years over what she has described as trumped-up drug charges against her.
Sticking to 11
Robredo is not keen to fill out the slot that Zubiri will be leaving behind, however, dashing the hopes of some supporters that she would eventually endorse former Bayan Muna representative Neri Colmenares for senator.
Gutierrez said the lone female presidential candidate will be sticking to an 11-candidate slate now that the May 9 elections is just less than two weeks away.
“With 12 days remaining before elections, we are moving forward with our 11-candidate Senate slate,” said Gutierrez.
Colmenares, the progressive Makabayan coalition’s candidate, has been allowed to deliver his speeches during the mammoth rallies that Robredo’s “Kakampink” supporters have been staging in the past weeks. But his participation is limited to the pre-program usually held in the early afternoon, as the main program slots in the evening are reserved for the official senatorial slate members.
Still, Colmenares spends most of his minutes onstage campaigning for Robredo and Pangilinan. He also hypes up the crowd by hitting Marcos and the atrocities committed by his family during the 21-year rule of the patriarch Ferdinand Marcos. Colmenares was a Martial Law survivor.
Colmenares’ Makabayan is part of the 1Sambayan coalition that endorsed Robredo for president in October 2021. But the progressive group refused to endorse Robredo at the time, causing intense friction between members of the two factions of the opposition movement.
Makabayan would later endorse Robredo and Pangilinan sometime January 28, just before the official campaign period started. 1Sambayan also added Colmenares in its own Senate ticket, where candidates are included on the premise that they publicly support the Robredo-Pangilinan tandem in 2022. – Rappler.com