NAGA CITY, Camarines Sur — Vice President Leni Robredo is banking on her being the only Bicolana from this year’s presidential candidates to catapult her to the country’s highest seat.
Robredo said on Monday, Feb. 7, that she expects nothing less than a “solid Bicol” vote this coming presidential elections in May.
The Bicol Region, her hometown, reportedly has more than 3.6 million registered voters, which comprised 5.9 percent of the country’s voting population. It edges Ilocos Region, from where her rival, former Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., is from, by less than 300,000.
“Oo naman (Of course),” Robredo said when asked about having the region solidly backing her candidacy.
If she wins, the Vice President is the first Bicolano president and the third female president, following Corazon Aquino and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Unlike in 2016, when five out of six vice presidential candidates claimed to be from the region, Robredo said that she’s the only Bicolana running now and even opposing political parties in the province are backing her.
She added it will be a “huge opportunity” for Bicol if she wins the presidency because their needs were not met “for many, many years” despite capable local executives from there.
During the vice presidential race in 2016, Robredo faces former senator and now Sorsogon Gov.Francis ‘Chiz’ Escudero, former Senators Gregorio ‘Gringo’ Honasan and Antonio Trillanes IV, as well as Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano.
Despite having five Bicolano candidates, Robredo topped the polls with 1,499,923 votes followed by Escudero with 476,483, Marcos’ 187,235, Cayetano’s 80,885, Trillanes’ 46,617, and Honasan’s 34,275.
“So inaasahan natin mas maganda yung makukuha nating boto ngayon. Yung pinapakita rin na vigor ng mga kababayan natin, ibang klase (we are expecting a better turnout of votes now. The kind of vigor we’re seeing from our fellowmen is something else),” she said.
But it’s not just the number of votes that she’s banking on, but the trust given to her by the region because of how she remained consistent from before she joined politics until now that she’s the second-highest official in the country.
Robredo was thrust to public office after her husband, the late former Interior secretary and Naga City Mayor Jesse Robredo died in a plane crash in 2012. The death of Naga’s beloved and most popular son sparked a clamor from the people to see his widow in public office.
The aspiring president said she goes home “very regularly” to their hometown and that she hoped she had shown them the kind of politics that they should vote for.
“Hindi pera o kapangyarihan yung pinagmumulan pero isang klase ng pamamahala saka pulitika na ang kapangyarihan ibinabahagi sa ordinaryong mamamayan (It’s not from money or power, but a kind of governance and politics that the power is shared with ordinary people),” she added.
Her husband, Jesse, was instrumental in creating the Naga City People’s Council, from which she patterned her Robredo People’s Council (RPC) that will help guide her in crafting policies if she becomes president.
Right now, the RPC manages volunteer organizations and their activities.
This year’s campaign will be non-conventional not only because it is fueled by volunteer groups but also because of the COVID-19 protocols they have to comply with.
Robredo, however, said she doesn’t mind going around and not having big rallies where everyone gathers.
She wants to reach as many people as possible, and she enjoys “opportunities of interaction.”
The Vice President is here with her team to prepare for the kick-off of her campaign on Tuesday, Feb. 8., in her hometown.
On Monday morning, she did last-minute meetings with the media at Summit Hotel and the formal turnover of the Metro Naga Sports Complex of the Mercado family to the local government unit (LGU) of Naga City.