With just two weeks left before the deadline for the filing of candidacies for the 2022 national and local elections, Vice President Leni Robredo remains undecided about running for president. Her indecisiveness is probably due to her consistently-low ratings in presidential surveys.

For instance, Robredo only received 6% in the July 2021 presidential survey released by polling firm Pulse Asia. Having a voter preference of 6% is terrible for a sitting Vice President less than seven months before the next presidential elections.

Joseph Estrada was ahead by a mile over his opponents throughout 1997, and was eventually elected via landslide. Noli de Castro was perceived as a frontrunner at this point 12 years ago – up until Corazon Aquino died. Jejomar Binay was the frontrunner until early 2016.

Robredo’s persistent unpopularity can be attributed to the ongoing malignment campaign against her that began back in 2016. She has been called as “fake VP” and “Leni lugaw,” even receiving snide comments on her private life including from President Rodrigo Duterte himself.

The years-long demolition job against Robredo can be traced back to the day after the 2016 elections – or even before she took office. It can be recalled that then-Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos led Robredo by as much as one million votes in the hours after the polls closed, only to see his lead shrink as the night went on. Starting the following morning, Robredo already maintained a small-but-persistent lead over Marcos.

leni robredo for president
Vice President Leni Robredo has not announced her plans for 2022 (Photo credits: Leni Robredo’s Facebook page)

Duterte and Marcos supporters alleged that the camp of Robredo cheated, even though they never cast doubts on the legitimacy on the results of the presidential race. Marcos tried to keep his supporters riled up by pursuing an electoral protest before the Supreme Court, only to get his claims junked unanimously just last February 2021.

It is clear that there was no cheating on behalf of Robredo that happened in 2016. What happened was that her bailiwicks were counted later compared to the areas where Marcos was ahead. It should also be recalled that then-Senator Alan Cayetano managed to siphon votes away from Marcos by emphasizing that he is Duterte’s legitimate running-mate. It is possible that many Marcos-leaning voters eventually switched votes to Cayetano in response to Duterte’s appeal.

It doesn’t help that Robredo’s initiatives during this COVID-19 pandemic is rarely mentioned in the press. It is only through social media that the public are updated consistently of her outstanding efforts like “Bayanihan E-Konsulta” and the mass vaccination efforts her office is conducting in partnership with local government units around the country. It is frustrating that do-nothing grandstanders like Sara Duterte and Bong Go get more coverage than her.

Since Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso already announced his presidential bid, the path for Robredo to win the presidency has significantly narrowed. While a Robredo-Moreno tandem would have been a dream-team for the opposition, it already looks impossible at this point, while a Moreno-Robredo team-up also looks unlikely now with the Manila Mayor’s announcement of medical doctor and social media personality Willie Ong as his running-mate. Lastly, if both Robredo and Moreno runs for President, it will be the best thing to happen for the Duterte coaliton.

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