May 1, 2022 (10:23 PM)

8 min read


Art by Sean Anthony Penn Lacorte and Katelyn Mae Uyking

Ever since the news broke on October 7, 2021 that she would be running for president in the 2022 elections, Leni Robredo has received different kinds of reactions: loud and proud support and an uproar of laughter and mockery. 

Before she became vice president, Maria Leonor Gerona Robredo became popular when she stepped in to continue the legacy of her late husband, former Department of the Interior and Local Government secretary Jesse Robredo. In 2013, she started her political journey as the representative of Camarines Sur’s Third District. She was also formerly a researcher and an economist.

If elected president, Robredo aims to prioritize five things: restoring the people’s trust in the government, boosting the strength of Philippine industries, ending workplace discrimination, supporting small businesses, and supporting the unemployed and out-of-work.

Will Leni Robredo be able to give her promise of an honest and trustworthy government?

A woman in a race of men

Out of the ten presidentiables, Robredo is the only woman. 

During her announcement that she would be joining the presidential race, Robredo mentioned that she would be the Filipinos’ ‘mother figure’ if elected as president. She believes that as a mother who sees the suffering of her beloved, she could show her love through her willingness to fight for her beloved.

Being the only woman in the race, Robredo is also prone to misogynistic comments saying that a woman is not capable of leading.

In an interview with Sharon Cuneta, Robredo mentioned that there has always been a stigma on women being weak leaders. She was, however, proud to say that she had dared to do what no male official had, as stated in an article from Manila Bulletin.

“Not to defend myself, pero andami kong pinasok na hindi nga nag-dare yung ibang lalaki eh,” Robredo said.

One of her advocacies as vice-president was women empowerment. Now that she hopes to be president, Robredo continues to be an inspiration to women by proving that a woman can also stand out in a line-up of men. To quote her, “The best man for the job is a woman.”

Vice-presidency under the Duterte administration

Duterte and Robredo were two politicians from different sides of politics.

Rodrigo Duterte ran under PDP-Laban with Alan Peter Cayetano, while Leni Robredo was with Mar Roxas representing Liberal Party. The two came from opposing partylists, which have caused some conflicts between them.

Robredo was appointed as the Chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council by President Duterte in July 2016. However, in the same year, she resigned from the position after she had received a text message informing her that Duterte wants her to refrain from attending the Cabinet meetings.

In 2019, Duterte promised to appoint Robredo as the anti-drug czar. However, he retracted his decision because of his doubts on Robredo. He feared that Robredo might also leak the information to her party, especially that she is the leader of the opposition.

Besides the disagreements with the Cabinet positions, Robredo is also known to be critical of Duterte’s decisions and actions, like the burial of former president and dictator Ferdinand Marcos in the Libingan ng Mga Bayani and his war on drugs.

Despite her conflicts with the President, she still continues to do her job through different projects that she has implemented in the Office of the Vice President.

Her flagship project as vice president, Angat Buhay, has helped a lot of poor communities around the country. It is an anti-poverty program that is centered around six key advocacy areas: food security and nutrition, women empowerment, education, healthcare, rural development, and housing.

For three consecutive years, her office has earned the highest audit rating of “unqualified opinion” from the Commission on Audit. This rating is given to government offices that have fairly presented their financial statements in accordance with the set standards.

During the pandemic, she also led a comprehensive response to COVID-19. Through the OVP, she has implemented the Swab Cab initiative, which aims to increase accessibility of antigen kits to areas with high transmission rates, Vaccine Express, which strengthens the vaccine drives of LGUs, and Bayanihan E-Konsulta, which serves as a free telemedicine service to unclog hospitals.

From yellow to pink

Robredo was a Liberal Party (LP) candidate in 2016, but she surprised everyone when she announced that she would be running as an independent candidate in 2022.

Opposition coalition 1Sambayan even declared Robredo as their standard bearer, but later refused their endorsement as she prefers to run independently.

“Hindi naman ako nag-resign from the Liberal Party. Pero running [as an] independent is our symbolic way of showing na bukas kami sa pakikipag-alyansa sa maraming mga partido, ‘yung aming isinusulong na inclusivity,” Robredo mentioned during a press briefing.

According to an article by Rappler, Robredo seems to be distancing herself from the “dilawan” label caused by her alliance with the Liberal Party, a party that President Duterte dislikes.

Duterte and his allies have always been critical of the “dilawans.” Recently, he claimed that the “dilawans” are teaming up with communist rebels, plotting something to disrupt the elections.

In 2020, President Duterte also made a statement telling the public not to listen to the opposition, or the “dilawans”, after the so-called “yellows” threw criticism at his administration’s COVID-19 response.

“Huwag po sana kayong maniwala dyan sa mga dilawan, opposition na hampas dito, hampas doon, kung ano pinagsasabi,” Duterte said.

In another article by Rappler entitled “The fall of the ‘dilawang’ Liberal Party”, DLSU political science professor Julio Tehankee revealed that their constant criticism against political opponents make them appear elitist.

“His anti-corruption campaign was targeted against political opponents and critics. Worse, when they were supposed to be for reforms and the ordinary Filipino, they all appeared elitist,” Tehankee said, referring to Roxas’s 2016 campaign.

Despite her deviance from the said party, Robredo remains to be its chairperson. Her allegiance to the LP seems to be intact, with her vice-presidential candidate and some candidates on her senatorial slate coming from LP.

Leni vs BBM

Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., son of the late dictator, is one of Robredo’s opponents in the 2022 presidential race.

The two candidates began their rivalry when Marcos lost the vice-presidential elections to Robredo in which he demanded a recount. 

Although it has been almost seven years since Marcos lost, Marcos spent years refusing to believe that Robredo won the election. However, in 2021, the Supreme Court finally junked Marcos’s protest against Robredo.

According to the latest Pulse Asia surveys, Marcos is the top choice of Filipinos in the upcoming elections. The March 2022 survey shows that 56 percent of voters prefer Marcos, while Robredo comes second with 24 percent of likely voters choosing her. In another survey conducted by OCTA Research, 57 percent of the respondents prefer Marcos while 22 percent prefer Robredo.

During the PiliPinas Debates, Robredo has cited studies that have shown that she is the top victim of disinformation spreading during the elections, while Marcos appears to benefit from most of it. This is in contrast to Marcos’s statement during  the Kandidatalks interview wherein he claims to be a victim of fake news and fact-checkers with political agenda.

“Meron naman tayong tinatawag na mga fact-checker, pero ang mga fact-checker naman paminsan ay may sariling agenda. Finafact-check lang nila [ay] one side of the story. ‘Yung kabila, di nila ginagawa,” Marcos said during the interview.

CNN Philippines reported that according to UP Journalism professor Yvonne Chua, Robredo is the top victim of disinformation, while Marcos greatly benefits on false or misleading claims that promote him.

Robredo also mentioned during the one-on-one interview with Boy Abunda the reasons why she thinks Marcos should not be elected. 

“Number one, sinungaling. Pangalawa, in the difficult moments, hindi siya nagpapakita.”

Marcos, on the other hand, chose not to answer the question during the same interview, as he believes that he should not indulge in negative campaigning.

Universities’ top choice

Robredo is the top preferred candidate of Ateneans, according to the recently presented Ateneo de Davao University (AdDU) Blue Vote In-Campus Survey results. The majority of those who preferred Robredo as president came from ages 18-24 years old. 

This situation is not just in AdDU. A lot of university surveys show that their students and staff mostly prefer Robredo as president, such as the University of the Philippines System, Xavier University, Mindanao State University – Iligan Institute of Technology, and Bulacan State University.

Despite being AdDU’s top preferred presidential candidate, the signature of AdDU president Fr. Joel Tabora was not seen among the Jesuit priests who have shown support for the Leni-Kiko tandem.

The statement showed more than 100 Jesuit priests endorsing Robredo and Pangilinan’s candidacy. Among all the Ateneo universities’ presidents, only Tabora was not a signatory, which gained both suspicion and praise from the people.

The article was previously published in the Election Issue 2022 of Atenews. Read it here:

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