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CAMARINES SUR, Philippines – They talked about cleaning homes, an upcoming visit to the dentist, renewing IDs, and for former senator Leila De Lima to meet the Robredo sisters possibly this Christmas. All but politics on the table in Bicol.
“Tingin ko she deserves na bigyan muna ng panahon na ‘yung personal affairs niya ayusin niya bago pa man isipin ‘yung next steps for the opposition, next steps for the party. Mahabang panahon ang ika-catch up niya sa sarili niya,” said former vice president Leni Robredo after her lunch meeting with De Lima in Naga City in Camarines Sur on Thursday, November 16.
(I think she deserves to have time for now to get her personal affairs in order before she can even think about the next steps for the opposition, and the next steps for the party. She has a very long time to make up for.)
The two Bicolanas, and two of the most prominent figures of the opposition, met in their home province of Camarines Sur Thursday, coinciding with De Lima’s homecoming after being granted bail Monday and ending almost seven years of detention.
Robredo said she was on the bus to Naga on Monday when she was watching De Lima’s first press conference out of jail. She was supposed to head back to Manila Thursday but decided to wait for De Lima, who arrived in Iriga City Wednesday late afternoon.
“We really avoided talking about it at this point. Because this is a happy reunion, happy get-together. We are not at all focusing on it, I did not even ask her what her plans are, she also did not ask me what mine was in that regard. It’s not the proper time,” said De Lima.
Former president Rodrigo Duterte gutted the opposition during his time, and although Robredo was able to put up a decent fight for the presidency in 2022, she and the opposition still suffered a big loss in the last elections. De Lima also lost a Senate reelection bid.
At this time, only Senator Risa Hontiveros is the opposition’s sole representative in the upper house.
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“You did it Leila, konting konti na lang. Napakalaking vindication nito sa buong oposisyon, itong vindication sa iyo. Kasi sa lahat sa atin, ikaw talaga ang sumalubong sa pinakamatinding dagok mula sa dating presidente,” said Hontiveros Monday night when De Lima got out of the Camp Crame detention facility.
(You’re almost there. This is a big vindication for the whole opposition, your vindication. Because out of all of us, you met the biggest attacks from the former president.)
Robredo stepped down as chairperson of the opposition Liberal Party when she finished her term as vice president. Former senator Francis Pangilinan, who lost his vice presidential bid in 2022, is the new chairperson while Albay 1st District Representative Edcel Lagman is the new president.
“Saka na lang kami mag-uusap kung ano ‘yung halaga nito para sa mga kasamahan (We’ll save it for another time to talk about what this means for our partymates),” said Robredo.