The heavy-hitters have spoken.
On October 7, with the nation waiting with bated breath, vice president Leni Robredo finally announced her bid for the presidency in the upcoming national polls. She has accepted opposition coalition 1Sambayan’s nomination as presidential aspirant.
“Naniniwala ako ang pagibig nasusukat hindi lang sa pagtitiis, kundi sa kahandaang lumaban, kahit gaano kahirap, para matapos na ang pagtitiis. Ang nagmamahal, kailangang ipaglaban ang minamahal,” she said.
“Malinaw sa lahat ang hamon na kinakaharap natin, nakita na nating lahat ang pagsisinungaling at panggigipit na kayang gawin ng iba para maabot ang mga layunin nila,” she went on. “Nasa kanila ang pera, makinarya, isang buong istrukturang kayang magpalaganap ng anumang kwentong gusto nilang palabasin.”
She added: “Kung parehong uri ng pamamahala at pareho ang pagkatao ng mga magwawagi sa araw ng halalan, wala tayong aasahang pagbabago.”
Shortly after her announcement came Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan’s, bearing news that he would run as VP alongside her.
This decision may throw a wrench in the plans of another contender, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. (known colloquially as ‘BBM’), son and namesake of former authoritarian president, Ferdinand Marcos. He had filed his certificate of candidacy on Wednesday, October 6.
This is his first shot at the presidency, having lost the VP race to Robredo in 2016. Currently, he has named no official running mate as his original candidate, incumbent President Rodrigo Duterte, had announced his retirement from politics. His replacement as VP bid is longtime aide, Sen. Bong Go, who may be BBM’s choice.
It is also suggested that he may run with Duterte’s daughter, Davao mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio who had filed for reelection as mayor in her hometown. However, many speculate that this may just be a diversionary tactic as she gears up to run with Marcos Jr.
Political analysts too believe that it is “now and never” for BBM given his mother Imelda’s advanced age (she is 93). She has held the family’s political power through different coalitions, which “can be maintained only as long as Imelda is alive and in charge,” according to Ramon Casiple, think tank Novo Trends founder and chief of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform.
To date, his bid has been opposed vehemently by over 30 youth groups from the University of the Philippines, while more schools are eyed to join.
His late father’s reign was marked with suspected torture and summary executions of dissenters, lasting from 1972 to 1981 through Martial Law.
Although finally ousted by People Power in 1986, the family had amassed some US$13 billion in ill-gotten wealth and plunged the country into debt figuring at some US$26 billion.
Senator Panfilo Lacson and Senate President Vicente Sotto III have also formalized their intention to run just two days before the final day of filing. They are running for president and vice president, respectively.
Lacson is running under Partido Reporma, while Sotto is part of the Nationalist People’s Coalition. Together, their banner is “Katapatan, Katapangan, Kakayanan.”
If elected to the two highest posts, they vowed to return to Filipinos their dignity and self-respect.
In the past, Lacson has hit out at President Duterte for his handling of the drug war and the rampant corruption he failed to eradicate, most recently in connection to the use of Covid19 response funds.
“I’ve never accepted any bribe in public service,” he declared in Tagalog. “A corruption-free brand of leadership is our strongest weapon against syndicates in and out of the government.”
Lacson was former chief of the Philippine National Police and presidential assistant for rehabilitation and recovery in the Aquino administration.