Robredo for president means a united opposition

Robredo for president means a united opposition "Only she can do it."



If the opposition is to be united, Vice-President Leni Robredo should run as its standard-bearer for the 2022 elections.

The launch of 1Sambayan’s selection process for opposition candidates last June 12 did not create the big bang that I was excitedly expecting and hoping for.  While possible administration or administration–allied wannabe candidates have been trying hard to be in the limelight, the opposition, represented by 1Sambayan has been relatively quiet. Quiet but not idle.

The coalition has conducted town hall meetings of the basic sectors as part of its consultation mechanisms toward the development of a unified platform of government. I participated in the meeting on women’s health as well as the town hall meeting on women’s issues. The consultative processes that 1Sambayan embarked on is commendable as it symbolizes it’s desire to listen to and push for the agenda of the marginalized sectors.  

When 1Sambayan started, it floated a list consisting of several names from which it said the candidates for president and vice-president will be chosen from. It included VP Robredo; Senators Grace Poe, Panfilo Lacson, and Nancy Binay; Representatives Vilma Santos-Recto and Eddie Villanueva; Manila Mayor Isko Moreno; former Senator Antonio Trillanes; and human rights lawyer Chel Diokno. Even before the June 12 event, Binay, Lacson, and Moreno already begged off from being in the list.

During the event, 1Sambayan was repeatedly asked if those who were still in the roster consented to their inclusion. These questions were answered by one of the convenors saying that they have talked with everyone and not only did they agree to being listed, but everyone committed to respecting the process. I thought that this was an important statement because at last, there will be an open process of selection that will be respected by the personalities involved.  

However, the event was still ongoing when Poe and Santos-Recto issued statements essentially saying “thank you, but no.” It is worth noting that the 1Sambayan event was “invaded” by supporters of Villanueva. The chat box was flooded by pro-Villanueva comments to the point that it needed to be disabled by the hosts. The Poe and Santos-Recto statements dampened the otherwise high spirits of many observers. A friend said that the statements “torpedoed the event.”

Essentially, 1Sambayan nomination was rejected by the big majority of those it wanted to include as options for candidates. It was not a good start for the opposition coalition. Something must have gone wrong and they should learn from this debacle. 1Sambayan should be able to bounce back in a big way.

Soon after June 12, Sen. Joel Villanueva, son of Rep. Villanueva said that he thought that his father would not run for president because of the tragedy that their family faced last year. If he is correct, then the only ones left are VP Robredo, Trillanes, and Diokno. I highly doubt if Diokno will run for president. Diokno has the makings of a good leader but surely, he knows that this is not his time. He first has to be known to the general population. I personally would like him to run for Vice-President.

I am familiar with most, if not all of the organizations in 1Sambayan. Even if Villanueva runs, it will be difficult for women’s groups to support him because of his anti-reproductive health, anti-divorce, and anti-adolescent access to contraception. His stance on women’s rights issues is problematic and women’s organizations are looking for pro-women’s rights candidates and many of the known feminist leaders are in the coalition.

So it’s a toss between Robredo and Trillanes. The VP said she has yet to decide. Trillanes on the other hand, has repeatedly expressed his desire to run for president (although adding that he will respect the decision if VP Robredo will run). However, at one point he intimated that Robredo will not run for president as she was preparing to be a gubernatorial bet for her province. Trillanes’ statement prompted the VP to fire back and say that the former senator should not speak for her.  

Trillanes’ claim to fame besides being a former senator is the fact that he has been at loggerheads with President Duterte. However, he is also known to have authoritarian tendencies. His rightist leanings do not sit well with human rights groups and there are many in 1Sambayan. Therefore, it will be very challenging for them to support him if he gets chosen to be the opposition’s presidential candidate.

Truth be said, only VP Leni Robredo can truly unite the opposition groups. All the organizations under 1Sambayan will support her. Other groups are just waiting for Leni to decide and those I have spoken with said that they will vigorously campaign for her. She just needs to say the word.

If the administration fields Duterte’s daughter, it will be a contest between two strong women. It will be an exciting fight especially since soon, Duterte will be a lameduck president. His words will not carry as much weight. Politicians will be “free” to express their views and support whoever they want. This will mean more, not less support for Robredo. With the recent development in the International Criminal Court (ICC), the older Duterte will probably be dragged into more controversies and the opposition can very well benefit from this.

The push for Robredo to run should be stronger. Only she can unite the opposition.

@bethangsioco on Twitter; Elizabeth Angsioco on Facebook

Topics: Leni Robredo , 2022 elections , 1Sambayan , Joel Villanueva
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