2022 Philippine Elections

Hit only Marcos Sr. to win? We owe Filipinos nothing less than the truth, says Robredo

Mara Cepeda
Hit only Marcos Sr. to win? We owe Filipinos nothing less than the truth, says Robredo

Presidential candidate Vice President Leni Robredo met with members of the Robredo People's Council (RPC) and multi-sectoral groups during a Peopleu2019s rally at St. Scholasticau2019s Academy in Talisay City, Cebu on February 24, 2022. Jacqueline Hernandez/Rappler

'Kung ano man 'yung katotohanan, whether sa tatay 'yun o sa anak, kailangan may access 'yung taumbayan para 'yung decision-making nila naka base sa katotohanan,' says Vice President Leni Robredo

ILOIlO CITY, Philippines – Would Vice President Leni Robredo refrain from criticizing her bitter rival and survey frontrunner Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. just to win in the 2022 elections?

For the lone female presidential bet, the need to shed light on the lies and abuses of the Marcoses goes beyond a winning political strategy. 

This was how Robredo responded when asked about the suggestion of former senator Sergio Osmeña III that she should tweak her campaign by hitting the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos instead. 

Osmeña, a respected strategist in Philippine politics, is now endorsing Robredo for president after earlier supporting Manila Mayor Isko Moreno. 

“‘Yung truth talaga ‘yung dapat na basehan ng lahat eh… Para nga sa akin, hindi na siya political strategy. Pero we owe our kababayans nothing less than to give them access to the truth,” Robredo said in a media interview in Talisay City, Cebu, on Thursday, February 24.

(The truth is really the basis of everything…. For me, it’s no longer about political strategy. But we our countrymen nothing less than to give them access to the truth.)

“So kung ano man ‘yung katotohanan, whether sa tatay ‘yun o sa anak, kailangan may access ‘yung taumbayan para ‘yung decision-making nila naka base sa katotohanan,” she added. 

(So whatever is the truth, whether it’s about the father or the son, the people must have access so their decision-making would be based on the truth.)

In an ANC After The Fact interview on Monday, February 21, Osmeña cited findings in the focus group discussions he had conducted indicating Filipinos’ positive perception of Marcos Sr. even if his 21-year rule is marred by corruption, killings, torture, disappearances, and media oppression. 

“So you do not hit Bongbong, because when you hit Bongbong, you’re not hitting the father. You should hit the father, and when that comes out, Bongbong will naturally slide,” Osmeña said. 

This coincides with the analysis by Rappler reporter Ralf Rivas, who argued in his February 2022 piece that Filipinos actually want the dead dictator for president. Marcos Jr. is “but merely a vessel – worse, a bad carbon copy.”

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Robredo vs Marcos

When she was a college student, Robredo joined protests against the Marcos dictatorship, a political awakening for the younger Robredo. 

Fast forward to 2016, Robredo defeated the dictator’s son by a thin margin in the vice presidential contest, prompting the latter to file an electoral protest against her. 

The Supreme Court unanimously junked Marcos’ case five years later. But the damage has been done, as Marcos trolls and propagandists saturated social media platforms with attacks and lies against Robredo.

Initially a reluctant presidential aspirant, Robredo had said one of her motivations for running in 2022 was to stop a Marcos Jr. presidency. Robredo has repeatedly said this isn’t just about her rivalry with Marcos Jr., but to foil the return of the dirty politics represented by the Marcos clan. 

Robredo now vows to lead a clean, excellent, and consultative government that would involve even ordinary Filipinos in its decision-making process.  

It’s a homage to the tsinelas leadership or the accessible and people-centered brand of governance that Jesse Robredo espoused when he led Naga City. – 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.