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Leni Robredo: Working with Duterte would be difficult

CEBU CITY, Philippines (UPDATED) –  Vice presidential candidate and Camarines Sur 3rd district Representative Leni Robredo said that it would be difficult to work with presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte, the current survey front-runner for president, if he should win.

"What he said, it runs against commodification [of women] and all that we've been fighting for," she said during an April 27 press conference organized by Cebu Women for Leni here.

Robredo was referring to the controversial statement made by Duterte during a campaign rally in Quezon City, about the rape of an Australian missionary during a siege in a Davao prison back in 1989. (WATCH: VIRAL: Video of Duterte joking about raped Australian woman)

"It's scary. In fact, when the statements were given, I immediately sent out my statements in support of women. It might be harder to work. The VP should be the support of the president. If your beliefs on important issues are different, it will be very difficult," she added. (READ: Robredo, Escudero: Duterte's rape joke sends wrong signal to public)

Asked by Rappler if it would be difficult for her to work with Duterte, Robredo said: "Oo naman (Yes)."

On April 17, Robredo said that rape should never be the subject of jokes.  And as human rights lawyer, she has seen the violence and trauma inflicted on women.

"Hindi magandang halimbawa ang ipinapakita natin sa kabataan kapag ang isang napakabigat na krimen tulad ng panggagahasa ay ginagawang katawa-tawa," Robredo said. "Kaming mga lingkod bayan ay dapat maging huwaran ng taumbayan."

(It is not a good example to children if a crime like rape is turned into a laughing matter. As public servants, we should serve as role models of the public.)


According to the latest Pulse Asia Survey, released on April 29, Duterte maintained his lead with a voter preference rating of 33%, followed by Senator Grace Poe in second place with 22%. 

Robredo's running mate Liberal Party (LP) standard-bearer Manuel 'Mar' Roxas III, is statistically tied with Poe, at 20%, while United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) bet and vice president Jejomar Binay is third at 18%.

This presents a possibility of Robredo – who is steadily climbing in the surveys just behind front-runner Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr – winning as vice president under a president who is not her running mate. Is Robredo prepared to commit as someone else's VP?

SUPPORTERS. Supporters of vice presidential candidate Leni Robredo have a group photo taken with her in Cebu City, April 27, 2016.

Photo by Zia Esmalin/Rappler

"[Kung] anong level of commitment na kaya kong ibigay kay Secretary Mar, pini-pledge kong ibibigay sa kanya. Walang bawas din dapat ang level of commitment ang pini-pledge ko whoever will it be should I win as VP," Robredo replied. 

(Whatever level of commitment I could give to Secretary Mar, I pledge to give the same level of commitment to whoever it will be should I win as VP.) 

"I will still be working very hard," she added, but said she will still campaign hard for her running mate. 

"Kung Sec Mar ang mananalo, assured ako na ma-maximize ako (If Mar wins, it's assured that I'd be maximized)," Robredo said, echoing previous statements for voters to vote for Mar if they will vote for her.


"Cebu was one of those places na kahit dapang-dapa ako sa survey, marami nang tumaya dito sa akin," she said. (Cebu was one of those places where even when I was at the bottom of the surveys, many took a risk on me.)

Robredo thanked Cebuanos for helping her numbers rise. "I'm beginning to peak at the right time," she said. (READ: Robredo tops SWS survey, jumps 7 points)

She said: "Kung tinatanong ako ngayon kung saan ko ina-attribute ang pagtaas ko sa mga surveys, kasi it's steady, it's largely attributed to every one of you. Ang Cebu ang isa sa mga lugar na tumiwala agad kahit nung 1% pa lang ako." 

(If you ask me now where I attribute the rise in the surveys, because it's steady, it's largely attributed to every one of you. Cebu is one of the places that believed in me right away even when I was at 1%)


Robredo said she wanted Cebuanos to know that she and Roxas are best fit to continue the gains started by President Benigno Aquino III's administration. At the same time, she acknowledged that the growth achieved in the past 6 years has not been inclusive. 

"We are much better off now than we were 6 years ago," Robredo said. "Ang daming sinimulan ang pamahalaan na ito na anti-poverty programs, pero may disconnections ang proceso (There have been so many anti-poverty programs started by this government, but there are disconnections in the process)," she added. 

She cited examples that during Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), there were "charges of anamolies" in distributing funds. And during Typhoon Glenda in 2014, there was a crop insurance program in place for farmers hit by the typhoon, but the list of beneficiaries of the program was not updated. 

"Maganda ang [mga] programa, hindi maayos ang execution (The programs are good, but the execution is poor)," she said

Cebu, particularly the province's northern areas, was among the provinces hit by the 2013 super typhoon that devastated the Visayas. It is the most vote-rich province in the country with 2.7 million votes. 

A majority of the mayors of Cebu's 44 municipalities and 6 component cities are members of the LP. 

In 2010, Roxas won about 1 million votes in Cebu over Binay's 400,000. But it will be tougher for the tandem to pull that off again this year with the Bisaya-speaking mayor and front-runner's rising popularity in the province.

The latest surveys show Roxas' ratings falling in the Visayas, while Duterte's numbers have been rising. 

"Dalang-dala ko sa la mesa ay isang reformed agenda ay naglalayon na ibahin ang mukha ng governance (I bring to the table a reformed agenda that seeks to change the face of governance)," she said of why Cebuanos should vote for her.

"Yung paniniwala ko sa pamumuno ay non-traditional. Yung klase ng pamumuno na mas inclusive, mas participatory at nagbibigay ng mas maraming boses sa mga tao," Robredo concluded. 

The LP candidates were also in Cebu City with Aquino for a proclaimation rally with the candidates of Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK), the local LP alliance led by mayoral candidate Tomas Osmeña. – With Richale Cabauatan/

Ryan Macasero

Ryan covers Cebu and the Visayas for Rappler. He covers all news in the region, but is particularly interested in people stories, development issues and local policy making.