By Raymund Antonio
The opposition candidates from the “Otso Diretso” slate, most of whom are unknown and first-time Senate hopefuls, are gaining public attention, thanks to President Rodrigo Duterte.
Vice President Leni Robredo acknowledged that the President was somehow instrumental in improving public awareness for the opposition senatorial bets.
In her Sunday radio show, Robredo was asked about the continued tirades of Duterte against the eight-member opposition ticket during campaign rallies for his political party.
The Vice President shrugged off Duterte’s remarks, saying he was even helping raise voters’ awareness on Otso Diretso.
“Itong pagbabanggit ni Pangulo sa kanila isa-isa, eh parang natutuwa nga kami, kasi kahit papaano napapakilala,” she said. (The President, by mentioning them one by one, boosts their popularity.)
“Nagkakampanya para sa Otso Diretso (He was campaigning for Otso Diretso),” Robredo added in jest.
Of the eight, only former Interior secretary Mar Roxas and re-electionist Senator Bam Aquino were among the opposition bets with statistical chances of winning in the May 13 polls based on pre-election surveys.
Duterte has been lashing at Otso Diretso, a line-up composed of candidates from Liberal Party and other parties critical of his administration, as the campaign season heats up.
But despite this, the Vice President does not encourage opposition senatorial bets to engage in mudslinging against political rivals. She wants them instead to continue discussing their platforms with the people and answering relevant issues.
Robredo, who campaigns hard for Otso Diretso during her provincial visits, again touted the candidates’ track records in their respective field.
“Itong mga accomplishments ng mga taong ito, madali namang i-research. Ito, kahit wala pang posisyon na pinanghawakan, sobrang dami nang ginagawa sa taumbayan,” she said. (The accomplishments of these candidates are easy to research. Even if they don’t yet hold government positions, they have done a lot for the people.)
The Vice President fondly spoke of Macalintal, whom she said, has long been pushing for his advocacy on senior citizens even before he decided to run for senator.
Robredo described former solicitor general Florin Hilbay as one of the lawyers who helped the Philippines win its case against China at The Hague.
Former Quezon congressman Erin Tañada passed many bills and fought for farmers while he was a member of the House of Representatives, she said.