Although he has yet to reveal who he will endorse in the 2022 Palace race, Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong on Monday, Dec. 6, praised presidential aspirant Vice President Leni Robredo for her “sincerity” and “humility” as a leader.
Magalong welcomed the Vice President to Baguio City on Monday, even inviting her to attend the city hall’s flag-raising ceremony and employees’ week. Robredo is in the country’s “summer capital” for a two-day visit.
In a media interview, Magalong said he and Robredo are “completely aligned” in their belief that good governance must go beyond traditional politics.
“Yeah we’re aligned, we’re aligned. We’re completely aligned sa aming pananaw (in our views) and you know, I admire her,” he added.
In response, the aspiring president agreed with Magalong, saying that political colors don’t matter to both of them.
“It’s true that very much aligned na tingin namin, that we think, it’s not important to us what party you came from. As long as we’re willing to work together, we’re for that,” she said in a mix of English and Filipino.
However, the Baguio City mayor, who is also the country’s contact tracing czar for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), refused to confirm if his glowing remarks were an official endorsement of Robredo for 2022.
“Sinabihan ko naman siya. Nag-usap naman kami. Hindi ko na babanggitin pero alam na ni Vice President kung sino ‘yung sinusuportahan ko (I already told her. We talked. I will not mention but Vice President knows who I will support),” he said, noting that he will declare his endorsement next year.
Magalong mentioned that he had worked with Robredo who was head of the advisory group in the Bicol Region when he was still with the Philippine National Police (PNP) as head of the transformation program. He also shared that he was close to Robredo’s husband, the late former Interior secretary Jesse Robredo.
“And talagang nakita ko ‘yung kanyang (And I really saw her) sincerity, kanyang (her) humility,” he said.
Asked if presidential aspirant Senator Panfilo Lacson is a factor in his decision considering he was also a former police officer, Magalong shared that the senator was in school with him as an upper class and was his former boss.
He said that many of the presidential candidates for 2022 believe in good governance, noting that “some pretend to be knowledgeable of good governance” while others “genuinely knows good governance, knows how to execute it”.
Earlier, during a speech at the Baguio City Hall, Robredo shared her sentiments about vote-buying.
She said that Baguio and her hometown of Naga City “share a lot of similarities” in terms of rejecting vote-buying and violence in politics.
“And I hope you will be able to maintain that in the years to come,” she added.
Robredo said that she and Magalong shared their “frustrations” in politics during a discussion, as well as the “many other things that become roadblocks in our quest for good governance”.
Baguio City is a known bailiwick of the Marcos family as it’s included in the “Solid North” that refers to the strong electoral support of northern Philippine provinces to political candidates of Ilocano descent.
In the 2016 vice presidential tiff, former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., son of former strongman President Ferdinand Marcos, received 75,275 votes from Baguio while Robredo only got 21,108 votes. But it was still Robredo who won the national race.
Robredo and Marcos are both vying for the presidency in the May 2022 polls.