Presidential aspirant Vice President Leni Robredo believes that her relationship with local politicians in her home region of Bicol is one that is “personal” and “beyond politics.”
During her two-day visit to Bicol that saw her thank her supporters in Sorsogon, Masbate, and Catanduanes and oversee her Vaccine Express initiative, she lauded the local government units (LGUs) for the successful vaccination drive and the rehabilitation of Catanduanes from the onslaught of typhoons in November last year.
Robredo was mum when asked about the possibility of endorsements from the local officials in Bicol--the region where she was born and raised. Her husband, the late former Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, was also Naga City mayor for six terms.
“Sa akin naman, ang (For me, the) relationship naman sa mga lokal na politicians dito (with the local politicians here is), beyond politics. Kahit iba ‘yung partido (Even ifwe come from different parties), we work well together,” Robredo said.
“‘Yung karamihan naman sa mga local officials dito, kaibigan natin nang personal, na ‘yung ating relationship with them, hindi naman pang-eleksyon. May eleksyon o wala, maganda ‘yung relationship natin (Most of the local officials here are our personal friends, that our relationship with them is not for elections. Whether there are elections or not, we have a good relationship) with them,” she added.
The Vice President is hopeful that Bicol would once more rally behind her as it did in 2016 when she won against her rival, former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.
This time, the 2022 presidential aspirant is the lone candidate with Bicol roots. She also included in her lineup two more senatorial hopefuls who hail from Bicol—Sorsogon Gov. Chiz Escudero and former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, whose father is from Ligao, Albay.
In the 2016 vice presidential race, Robredo had to face Escudero and Trillanes, as well as Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano and former Senator Gringo Honasan, the latter two of which also have also links to the region.
Still, she won a commanding 1,499,923 votes in the region over Escudero’s 476,483, Marcos’ 187,235, Cayetano’s 80,885, Trillanes’ 46,617, and Honasan’s 34,275. However, it was Marcos who became the lady official's tightest opponent in the national tally.
Local officials in Bicol have warmly welcomed Robredo in her visits there since she announced her candidacy for president but so far, only Mayor Noel Rosal of Legazpi City, Albay, Mayor Joseph Ascutia of Labo town in Camarines Norte, and Mayor Krisel Lagman of Tabaco, Albay have publicly voiced out their support of her.
Robredo, however, is thankful that she was able to work with them for the past five-and-a-half years despite her being from the opposition.
“Pero never na ipinaramdam sa akin ng mga local officials dito na hindi ako welcome. So sa akin, ano ‘yun, isang malaking bagay for us na nakakatrabaho kami dito na bwelo (But the local officials never made me feel that I am not welcome. So, for me, that’s a big thing for us that we can work here without apprehension),” she said.