1Sambayan, an opposition coalition led by former senior government officials, formally endorsed Vice President Leni Robredo for president for the coming 2022 national elections Thursday afternoon (September 30). Robredo received 1Sambayan’s endorsement despite the fact that she has not announced if she is indeed running for president.

After the announcement from 1Sambayan, Robredo released a statement thanking the group for their trust and support. She also reiterated that she needs a few more days to pray and discern before she decides on what is best for our country. The filing for candidacies will be from October 1 to 8, 2021.

According to the group’s website, 1Sambayan’s convenors conducted a series of online surveys in recent months to determine the preferred candidate of its members, while also taking into account the surveys conducted by reputable polling firms. They intend to endorse candidates for national positions based on four criteria:

1) Clean track record:​ The aspirant must be of good moral character and without any history of corruption or malfeasance.

2) Upright stand on key issues:​ The aspirant must be unequivocally opposed to extrajudicial killings, kowtowing to foreign powers, violation of the separation of powers and other principles enshrined in the 1987 Constitution.

3) Platforms:​ The aspirant must have solid, well-informed platforms for addressing the country’s problems, and a clear-cut plan on their implementation.

4) Winnability:​ The aspirant must be fully ready and willing to run for office. Moreover, the aspirant must have recall among the voting population, the aptitude to campaign and engage with them, and the verve to compete with other candidates for the people’s votes.

Leni Robredo 1Sambayan
Opposition coalition 1Sambayan has endorsed Vice President Leni Robredo as its presidential candidate for 2022. (Photo credits: Facebook page of Vice President Leni Robredo)

This situation is a good illustration of the saying “putting the cart before the horse.” Robredo seems genuinely conflicted about running for president, and there is a possibility that she will not do it. In fact, Senator Francis Pangilinan, one of Robredo’s closest allies, revealed just yesterday that she may actually just run for re-election as Vice President instead for the sake of unity.

According to retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, “unity talks with other presidential aspirants continue in the hopes that they withdraw in favor of Robredo.” Carpio added that in the case that Robredo declines their nomination, then 1Sambayan convenors will have to meet again – which is reminiscent of what happened last June when the group released the names of people they may support only to be declined.

To be honest, it’s not really surprising that 1Sambayan decided to endorse Robredo for president. After all, most of its leaders have ties to the administration of the late former President Benigno Aquino III. It would be hard for the group to claim that they are still open to “unity talks” since they already endorsed a presidential candidate. These negotiations should happen behind the scenes.

The recent presidential survey released by Pulse Asia continues to show what has been obvious for the past months – that the best chance for the opposition to win in 2022 is for Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso, Senator Grace Poe. and Robredo to join forces. Domagoso has consistently led Robredo in the surveys, and he is likely to gain further with Poe ruling out another presidential run (she also declined Domagoso’s offer for her to be his running-mate). It is hard for the opposition to win with both Robredo and Moreno running for president, but if they can run together under the same ticket either as Leni-Isko or Isko-Leni, then they have a fighting chance..

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