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Leni joins Palace fray

Robredo said she was willing to give way to a single candidate by a united opposition but that unification talks with the other candidates bogged down

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Vice President Leni Robredo troops to the Commission on Elections Thursday to file her Certificate of Candidacy for president. Her followers heaved a sigh of relief thinking she would run for governor of Camarines Sur. / PHOTOGRAPH BY YUMMIE DINGDING FOR THE DAILY TRIBUNE @tribunephl_yumi

Vice President Leni Robredo on Thursday officially declared her intent to run for president in next year’s elections, ending speculations she was easing into a gubernatorial run.

“My will is strong now. We need to free ourselves from our current situation. I will fight, we will fight. I am offering myself as a candidate for president in the 2022 elections,” Robredo said in a 15-minutes speech.

She announced her candidacy in her office at the Quezon City Reception House. Her decision came after her nemesis Ferdinand Marcos Jr., son and namesake of the country’s former dictator, said Tuesday he would run for the top job.

Wearing a blue blouse with a pink ribbon, the Vice President admitted to an initial reluctance to seek the highest post in the land after meeting with other candidates for the post.

“Our journey from where we are now has been long. I do not intend to run. I’d thought of going back to the province, where a lot of people are waiting for the change that I can make,” she said.

Robredo said she was willing to give way to a single candidate by a united opposition but that unification talks with the other candidates bogged down.

Later on Thursday, Robredo filed her Certificate of Candidacy (CoC) with her daughters, Tricia and Aika Robredo, and her election lawyer, Romulo Macalintal.

Robredo has been in perpetual conflict with President Rodrigo Duterte.

Among other things, Robredo opposed Duterte’s plan to bring back the death penalty and his decision to allow the embalmed body of Ferdinand Marcos to be buried at the national heroes’ cemetery.

“It is going to be an uphill climb but her running sends a strong statement in itself that there is a genuine opposition to Duterte and the return of another Marcos to the presidency,” said University of the Philippines professor Jean Franco.

Robredo quit Duterte’s Cabinet less than six months after he was sworn in, after a presidential aide told her she had been barred from its meetings.

Marcos Jr. was in second place behind Duterte’s daughter, Sara, in a recent Pulse Asia Research poll, though she has denied plans to run.

Robredo was a distant sixth, trailing boxing great Manny Pacquiao and celebrity Manila Mayor Francisco Domagoso, who have confirmed they will seek the presidency; and Senator Grace Poe, who has not.

Robredo, originally a lawyer for the disadvantaged, rose to fame as the wife of Jesse Robredo, a respected cabinet member in former president Benigno Aquino’s administration.

When her husband died in a plane crash in 2012, public clamor encouraged her to enter politics.

Robredo, who has three daughters, served a single term in the House of Representatives before her successful bid for the vice presidency.

Quickly professing full support for Robredo was the opposition coalition 1Sambayan.

“We, in 1Sambayan, stand firm behind Vice President Leni in her presidential bid in the 2022 national elections,” the coalition said, describing her as a “light of hope” at a time of great uncertainty.

“The fight to regain our country’s democracy and integrity in governance starts now, and it will be an uphill battle,” 1Sambayan said.

Robredo vowed to eradicate corruption, incompetence and lack of care for the people. She also reiterated the need for an earnest and great leader.

So far, more than 40 candidates have registered to run for president in the May election, but the field will narrow significantly in the coming months.

Election season kicked off this month, the candidates flocking to the offices of the elections commission to file their nominations.

The process launched a typically noisy and deadly seven months of campaigning for more than 18,000 positions, with the Covid-19 pandemic and the economic downturn caused by lockdowns expected to dampen the atmosphere.

“We will fight the old and rotten political system. We will give back to the ordinary people the power to make a change,” Robredo said.

She acknowledged her journey would not be easy as she is not well-funded unlike the other presidential candidates.

“They have the money, machinery, and an infrastructure which can spread whatever stories they want to spread,” she added.

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