Philippines’s No. 2 Leni Robredo joins race to succeed Duterte

Philippine Vice President Leni Robredo has declared she’s going to run for president in May 2022, embarking on an uphill political battle in a crowded discipline to succeed populist incumbent President Rodrigo Duterte, as she hopes to duplicate her come-from-behind 2016 victory in an election reshaped by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’m officially offering myself as candidate for president in the 2022 elections. I will take on the fight. We will fight together,” Robredo mentioned on Thursday as she introduced her marketing campaign for the presidency in a speech delivered in Tagalog.

“The challenge we face is clear to everyone. We’ve seen the lies and the abuse. They have the money and the machinery.”

Robredo’s candidacy takes on a brand new urgency following the entry into the presidential race of Ferdinand Marcos Jr, son and namesake of the Philippine strongman, who was eliminated following a preferred revolt in 1986. In the 2016 vice presidential race, Robredo defeated Marcos by a razor-thin margin.

Robredo, 56, has been Duterte’s vp since they had been each sworn into workplace in 2016. But she has locked horns with Duterte on a number of points and has labelled his so-called lethal warfare on medicine a “failure”, angering him.

Presidents and vice presidents are elected individually within the Philippines, steadily leading to candidates from rival events, like Duterte and Robredo, working collectively in workplace however typically clashing sharply on insurance policies.

On Thursday, Rodbredo sought to make the distinction with Duterte much more stark, declaring, “we will defeat the old and rotten type of politics. We will hand back to ordinary Filipinos the power to make change.”

Last week, she was endorsed by a newly fashioned coalition of political and civic teams to tackle the ruling celebration equipment, which is starting to crack because of infighting between Duterte’s loyalists and people supporting the candidacy of Senator Manny Pacquiao, the boxing legend who can also be searching for the presidency.

In endorsing Robredo, the coalition mentioned that she has the “integrity, competence and track record” to steer the nation, which is going through a historic financial stoop because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed not less than 38,000 individuals within the Philippines.

When the endorsement was introduced final Thursday, the vp had pleaded to be given extra time to suppose by way of her resolution. In current months and weeks, she has been attempting to persuade divergent political teams and personalities to rally behind one opposition candidate. But she has been spurned by her would-be rivals.

Jason Gonzales, a former mayor and incumbent provincial legislator from the central Philippines is amongst these backing Robredo. He advised Al Jazeera that Robredo is the one candidate who has constantly held on to her rules, regardless of the political dominance of Duterte and his allies throughout the previous couple of years.

Gonzales provides that Robredo’s grasp of what a frontrunner ought to be “is both broad and deep”, having served as vp since 2016.

“If we are talking about the qualities needed in order to govern, I think she has it in spades,” Gonzales mentioned.

Crowded race

Aside from Robredo and Pacquiao, those that have declared their candidacy embrace former Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno and former police chief and incumbent Senator Panfilo Lacson.

Except for Robredo, all the opposite declared presidential candidates have previous affiliations with Duterte, leaving her because the nominal opposition candidate.

Her supporters have argued that she is the “real opposition” within the upcoming race. But in a rustic, the place politics is pushed extra by character and political connections and fewer about coverage and beliefs, staking a declare to symbolize the opposition may very well be tough.

Looming giant within the race is Duterte himself, who till final weekend was anticipated to run as vp. Instead, he has mentioned that he’s retiring from politics.

Robredo - DuterteRobredo has been serving as Duterte’s vp since they had been each sworn into workplace in 2016, however she is taken into account as an opposition determine and has steadily clashed with the president on a number of points together with the so-called lethal warfare on medicine [File: Bullit Marquez/AP]

That may pave the way in which for the late entry into the race of his daughter, Davao Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio. She has been main in surveys in a hypothetical presidential election, though her numbers have declined within the newest survey printed in September.

The deadline for the submitting of candidacy is on Friday, October 8.

But declared candidates can nonetheless withdraw, and be substituted by one other candidate till November 15.

Duterte-Carpio stays coy about whether or not she’s going to really run.

On Saturday, she filed her papers to run for re-election as mayor of Davao, the Dutertes’ political stronghold. At the identical time, in current weeks, her supporters have been placing up outsized banners together with her picture everywhere in the nation regardless of election prohibitions.

Amid the suspense, Robredo has considerably stepped up her critique of the Duterte administration’s “lack of focus and leadership” in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, which is rising as a key challenge among the many nation’s greater than 64 million registered voters.

She additionally referred to as “unforgivable” the alleged misuse of hundreds of thousands of {dollars} price of public funds to purchase medical tools.

“How do these people even manage to sleep at night? There are so many Filipinos who are suffering. Yet all they can think about is extortion,” she requested in a radio interview, referring to the accused personalities, who’re linked to the president.

Long street forward

But Robredo’s path to the presidency may not be a straightforward one.

The newest survey performed by Pulse Asia polling, which confirmed Duterte-Carpio main, noticed Robredo trailing behind 5 potential presidential candidates. Compared with the July polling outcomes, nevertheless, she has doubled her assist in Metro Manila and the central Visayas area.

In 2016, when the still-unknown Robredo was picked because the vice-presidential running-mate of the earlier administration’s standard-bearer, she was additionally polling in single digits and was far behind a number of different contenders.

But Robredo ultimately defeated a preferred and well-financed senator, Marcos Jr.

“Leni was the new kid in the block. There was a lot of curiosity about her. People who met her for the first time wanted to vote for her. Of course, she also worked hard. To her credit, she hit the ground running,” Fe Zamora, a veteran journalist who covers politics and the navy, advised Al Jazeera.

The distinction this time is that she is working because the candidate of the opposition who was roundly thrashed within the 2019 mid-term elections That 12 months, all 12 opposition senatorial candidates had been defeated by allies of Duterte. She can also be the incumbent vp and has been within the public eye for over 5 years.

Her hostility to a lot of Duterte’s insurance policies made Robredo a goal of relentless political and private assaults on social media by allies of the president, which dented her recognition.

The legitimacy of her win was additionally questioned by Marcos, who misplaced by a slim margin of greater than 260,000 votes. The case went all the way in which to the Supreme Court, which dismissed Marcos’s grievance, however the drawn-out authorized struggle left Robredo politically bruised.

“Marcos and the [Duterte] camps have been demonising her since 2016 precisely to prevent an expanded Robredo political base,” Zamora mentioned.

But Anna Blanco, a licensed public accountant and a frontrunner of a gaggle of pros supporting Robredo, says that the vp’s observe file may assist her overcome her polling deficit as soon as the campaigning begins.

“From what we’ve seen, how she has comported herself, and what she has done for the last five years, she has the competence and character to be the rightful next president,” Blanco, who’s initially from Mindanao, advised Al Jazeera.

‘She has grown in office’

A comparatively novice politician, Lobredo first ran for public workplace after the 2012 dying of her husband, who had been the nation’s inside minister.

Robredo had solely served one time period as a member of the House of Representatives and was thought-about as an unknown earlier than she was tapped for the vice presidential race in 2016. Her celebration’s candidate for the highest job misplaced out to Duterte.

As vp, Robredo was briefly the top of the federal government’s housing and growth company, however she was compelled to resign after Duterte’s cupboard excluded her from conferences.

In 2019, she additionally served in a authorities anti-drugs council, after Duterte requested her to assist following her repeated criticisms of his bloody crackdown. After simply 18 days he fired her.

Duterte’s lethal warfare on medicine is now the topic of an investigation by the International Criminal Court.

Robredo had mentioned the drug warfare violated the human rights of many poor suspects whereas failing to go after the big-time suppliers.

Because of her criticisms, allies of Duterte in Congress decreased her workplace’s price range, leaving her with restricted monetary assets to function.

But that has not stopped her from elevating cash for her programmes, mentioned Jess Lorenzo, the convener of a motion backing Robredo’s candidacy.

Lorenzo says that final 12 months the vp’s workplace raised as a lot as $2m to assist households affected by the pandemic.

“This tells me that she is a leader that has the trust of the people. This is a leader that will channel this trust endowed to her towards the crisis at hand,” he advised Al Jazeera.

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