The Philippine vice president, a staunch critic of President Rodrigo Duterte’s murderous war on drugs, has been nominated by an opposition coalition as the May 2022 presidential candidate.
Leni Robredo has been Duterte’s vice-president since taking the oath in 2016, but she is seen as an opposition figure and has called Duterte’s war on drugs – a bloody crackdown that has left thousands dead – of “failure”.
Presidents and vice-presidents are elected separately in the Philippines, frequently resulting in candidates from rival parties like Duterte and Robredo working together in power and often at odds over policies.
In an announcement Thursday, members of the coalition known as 1Sambayan said they had determined that Robredo is the best qualified candidate to lead the country, based on several leadership criteria as well as their internal poll. .
Robredo “will guide us in healing our nation, reviving our economy, creating jobs, ending hunger, ending indiscriminate killings of fellow Filipinos,” said former Supreme Court justice Antonio Carpio, one of the presidents of the coalition.
1Sambayan coalition members include highly respected experts in law and foreign policy, human and civil rights advocates, as well as opposition politicians, farm groups, students and retired military personnel. who united to fight Duterte’s policies.
âWe believe the nation cannot survive another six years of gross mismanagement of government and economy,â Carpio said in his announcement broadcast live on various social media platforms.
In a statement posted on social media, Robredo said she was “honored” by the nomination.
âIn the coming days, please join me in prayer that our decision will be the best for the country,â she said in Tagalog and English.
The coalition had also considered Manila mayor Isko Moreno as a candidate, but ultimately chose Robredo, citing his background as vice president.
Moreno, a former ally of Duterte, said last week he was running for president.
The filing of nomination papers will begin on Friday and will last until October 8.
Besides Moreno, those who have officially declared their candidacy for the presidency include international boxing champion Senator Manny Pacquiao and former police chief and incumbent Senator Panfilo Lacson.
But due to the previous identification of the candidates declared as allies of Duterte, none of them are considered the “real opposition”, leaving Robredo as the nominal opposition candidate.
Duterte’s daughter, Davao mayor Sara Duterte, is also widely expected to run for president, but whose numbers declined in the latest poll released on Wednesday.
Robredo has yet to officially declare her candidacy, but she is expected to run.
In recent weeks, she has sharpened her criticism of the Duterte administration’s “failed response” to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as allegations of corruption in the purchase of millions of dollars in medical equipment for them. health workers.
The latest poll conducted by polling firm Pulse Asia in early September, however, showed that Robredo was trailing five possible candidates. But she has doubled her support in metro Manila and the Visayas since the last poll in June.
In 2016, when Robredo ran for vice-president, she was also behind several other candidates, but ultimately managed to defeat a popular and well-funded senator, Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
Due to his opposition to many of Duterte’s policies throughout his vice-presidency, Robredo has become the target of relentless political and personal attacks on social media by allies of the president, increasing his popularity.
A relatively novice politician, Robredo had served only one term as a member of the House of Representatives before successfully becoming vice-president. A human rights lawyer, she ran for public office after the death in 2012 of her husband, who was the country’s interior minister.
As vice president, Robredo briefly served as head of the government agency for housing and development. She was forced to step down after being excluded from Duterte’s cabinet meetings.
In 2019, she also served on a government drug board, after Duterte asked her for help following her repeated criticism of her bloody crackdown.
She only lasted 18 days at work before being fired by Duterte.
Duterte’s murderous war on drugs is now under investigation by the International Criminal Court.
Robredo had said that the war on drugs violated the human rights of many suspects and focused on “petty sellers and users”, without addressing the supply of the illegal drug trade and without attacking the illicit drug trade. large suppliers.