“Buong-buo ang loob ko ngayon. Kailangan nating palayain ang sarili mula sa kasalukuyang sitwasyon. Lalaban ako, lalaban tayo!”
(Today, I have full conviction. We need to free ourselves from the current situation. I will fight, we will fight.)
Those were the fighting words of Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo when she announced on Thursday her candidacy for the country’s top government post in the 2022 national elections.
Later in the afternoon, Robredo filed her certificate of candidacy (COC) at the Commission on Elections. She has not officially named her vice presidential running mate, although various media organizations have reported that she has chosen Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan as her vice president.
In her 15-minute speech delivered in Filipino, Robredo, a member of the Liberal Party like Pangilinan, described how she tried to form a united opposition, meeting over the past weeks with “certain political personalities” she did not name as she initially had no plans to run for national office.
Robredo revealed that some groups asked that she join them as a candidate, while others offered her a position in their government if they won in the May polls. The vice president said that she made it clear that these talks were not about her securing a position since she was seriously considering going back to her province to help the people there.
“Sa prosesong ito, walang naging lugar ang ego o pansarili kong interes. Mabigat na responsibilidad ang pagka-Pangulo, at hindi ito pwedeng ibase sa ambisyon o sa pag-uudyok ng iba. Pagdating sa pamumuno, iisa lang dapat ang konsiderasyon: ano ba ang pinakamabuti para sa bansa natin?”, she explained. “Buhay at kinabukasan ng Pilipino ang pinag-uusapan natin ngayon.”
(In this process, there was no place for ego or personal interests. Being a president is a heavy responsibility and this must not be based on ambition or the will of others. When it comes to leadership, there should only be one consideration: what is best for our country?, she explained. We are now talking about the lives and future of Filipinos.)
The 56-year-old widow and mother of three daughters said it is the current state of the nation that convinced her to finally throw in her hat in the elections. She noted that Filipinos have been suffering from massive unemployment, hunger, death, and exhaustion, especially the health workers, amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
“Dito tayo pupusisyon… ‘Yung pagnanasang makaraos ng taumbayan, bibigyan natin ng bago at positibong anyo. Tatalunin natin ang luma at bulok na klase ng pulitika. Ibabalik natin sa kamay ng karaniwang Pilipino ang kakayahang magdala ng pagbabago, Robredo explained.
(This is where we will stand… our desire to uplift the Filipino people. We will give it a new and positive form. We will defeat the old and rotten brand of politics. We will return to the hands of ordinary Filipinos the power for change.)
And in an emotional appeal that was received by loud clapping, she said, “Ina akong nakikita ang pagdurusa ng minamahal kong bansa. Naniniwala ako: ang pag-ibig, nasusukat hindi lang sa pagtitiis, kundi sa kahandaang lumaban, kahit gaano kahirap, para matapos na ang pagtitiis. Ang nagmamahal, kailangan ipaglaban ang minamahal.”
(I am a mother who has seen the suffering of my beloved country. I believe that love is not measured in just endurance, but also in one’s readiness to fight, no matter how difficult, just to end the suffering. The one who loves needs to fight for their loved one.)
Robredo ended her speech with a pledge and statement of confidence of a victory, “Ipaglalaban ko kayo hanggang dulo. Itataya ko ang lahat..buong-buo ang tiwala ko: magtatagumpay tayo.”
(I will fight for you until the end. I will risk everything…I wholeheartedly trust that we will win.)
Shortly after her speech, 1SAMBAYAN, an opposition coalition, released a statement supporting Robredo’s presidential bid. The group, which had earlier endorsed Robredo, said, “Isa itong sinag ng pag-asa sa panahon ng kadiliman habang naghihirap ang ating bayan dahil sa bigong tugon sa pandemya, sa bagsak nating ekonomiya at sa pagkawala ng buhay at hanap-buhay para sa maraming mamamayang Pilipino.”
(This is a ray of hope in this era of darkness, where the nation is suffering because of the disappointing pandemic response, the downward state of the economy, and the loss of lives and livelihood of our fellow Filipinos.)
1SAMBAYAN previously said that it would give Robredo the opportunity to pick her vice presidential running mate and the composition of her senatorial ticket, in consultation with its 24 convenors. (See 1SAMBAYAN to VP Leni: Accept presidential nomination, lead Filipino people in this difficult time)
Other big-name presidential aspirants filed their COCs earlier this week, such as Manila Mayor Franciso Isko Moreno Domagoso and Sen. Manny Pacquiao, who were both earlier floated as possible presidential bets of 1SAMBAYAN. Robredo’s political rival in the 2016 vice presidential race Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. also filed his COC for the country’s top post this week.