At the end of his term, President Rodrigo Duterte continues to enjoy high satisfaction ratings. In the December 2021 Social Weather Stations survey, Duterte’s net satisfaction rating remained “very good” at +60, the first for an outgoing president. To illustrate, Noynoy Aquino had a satisfaction rating of +27 when he ended his period in 2016, and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ended up with a low -53 net rating in 2010.
Now that we are in the playoffs of the May 2022 election, the candidates are pulling everything for their campaigns. In this piece, I will address the supporters of the Duterte administration, who have not yet decided on their next president, and argue that even for hardline Duterte supporters, a Robredo presidency would be in their best interest.
Why should a Duterte supporter vote for Vice President Leni Robredo, the leader of the opposition whom many regard as the antithesis of Duterte and whom the administration has denounced over the past six years?
Duterte has not yet supported a presidential candidate, despite his own party’s support for Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. There are several contradictions and complications in our political landscape today, but one thing is certain: There is a very good reason why some Duterte supporters, politicians in line with the administration, and Duterte himself refuse to support Ferdinand Marcos Jr., even though Mayor Sara Duterte is running as his vice president. President Duterte has downplayed his vitriol against VP Leni recently and directed it at Marcos Jr., suggesting Marcos is a weak leader with no performance and dependent on his last name.
VP Leni has opposed many of the administration’s policies, including its human rights violations and weak response to the pandemic. In almost every way, she is the exact opposite of Duterte.
Despite this, VP Leni embodies true unity. Instead of focusing on differences, she focuses on points of convergence. During Duterte’s tenure, for example, he raised taxes on alcohol and tobacco products to fund universal health care and passed the Universal Health Act. VP Leni, a staunch health advocate, has expressed her support for sin taxes and universal health care, and she wants to protect the gains from these reforms.
Trolls have painted her as the figure of disagreement. But if you peel back the layers of misinformation, Deputy Director Leni has the unique ability to work with people of other political colors despite their attacks on her. When she was appointed chair of the ICAD (Inter-agency Committee on Illegal Drugs), she gladly took on the job. She did not allow attacks and lack of cooperation from some local government units (LGUs) to get in the way of her ability to earn effectively and innovate through her anti-poverty programs in the Office of the Vice President (OVP).
VP Leni can work with any Vice Presidential candidate. Of course, her ability to work with her deputy, Senator Kiko Pangilinan, is a given. Senator Kiko is VP Leni’s ideal running mate. But VP Leni has too expressed its openness to working with other Vice Presidential candidates.
When she ran for vice president, Robredo said she and Mayor Sara Duterte are friends: Magkaibigan we. They got to know each other from the time when Jesse Robredo was Secretary of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and Sara Duterte was Mayor of Davao. VP Leni also said: “I hope politics will not ruin our friendship.” (See Asks‘s “Leni and Sara Duterte: Friendship beyond politics,” December 23, 2015. Supporters of the Robredo-Sara tandem or RoSa say these two women are a combination of against and concern (courage and care).
Dr. Willie Ong, who also ran for vice president at these elections, also recently noted that he has more points in agreement on issues with VP Leni than his own candidate, Manila’s Mayor Isko Moreno. On April 4, over 12,000 physicians nationwide expressed their support for VP Leni and praised her COVID-19 initiatives. And in the case of Senate President Tito Sotto (also running for VP), he was one of the senators who supported an increase in the budget for the OVP’s Angat Buhay program.
When Deputy Director Leni talks about unity, it is not just a declaration of motherhood that is conveniently placed to avoid accountability. Dr. Jayeel Cornelio wrote in a Rappler article “Solidarity, not unity” (April 22, 2022), buzzword “unity” for another candidate is simply an excuse to avoid the critical issues. By pretending to “stay over the fight”, Marcos Jr. laughs. of allegations and criticisms and is shielded from responsibility for explaining issues of public interest, such as his non-participation in presidential debates and his 1997 tax evasion ruling.
“Let’s just keep quiet, let’s not fight anymoreunity and positivity na lang (Let’s just be quiet, let’s not react, just unity and positivity) “is the mindset that is likely to prevail in a” united “administration under Marcos Jr. But as actor John Arcilla said at the Leni-Kiko Grand Rally in Pasay on Saturday, “To criticize the government is not to rebel or not to complain. To criticize the government is love (To criticize the government is not to rebel or complain. To criticize the government is an act of love). VP Leni said in his proclamation speech on October 7, 2021: “Love is measured not only by perseverance, but by willingness to fight (Love is measured not only by perseverance, but by willingness to fight). VP Leni’s idea of unity is not one that silences people and forces them to accept the status quo. It challenges people to put their differences aside to fight for a fairer and more humane country.
VP Leni’s unity comes from a place of selflessness, a desire to serve the marginalized and an absence of self-importance. VP Leni does not bear the burden of an intrusive ego, a need to justify himself or a longing for personal honor. Her willingness to help create a unified opposition ticket instead of running for president in 2021 proves this.
There is nothing impressive or surprising about the people Marcos unites under his “Uniteam”. It’s the same old, same old – the power brokers like Estrada and Arroyo, two former presidents we rebelled against – that are converging for a transaction.
What is more impressive is VP Leni’s ability to consolidate the support of people from all walks of life and all backgrounds: most recently labor leaders, Muslims, Christians and Catholics. Last weekend, VP Leni garnered significant support from 1,000 Catholic bishops and clergy, Kilusang Mayo Uno, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and its United Bangsamoro Justice Party. The MILF has made a historic decision, because in the past, since its inception, it has never approved a presidential candidate.
It is in everyone’s best interest to vote for a candidate who stands for true unity, has zero accusations of corruption and wants to bring in foreign investment, build strong institutions, inspire and cooperate with a committed and energetic civil society and establish an honest, participatory and democratic government.
The Nomura Global Research think tank named Robredo the most “market-friendly” presidential candidate for her pandemic recovery program and platform for good governance. They warn that a Marcos presidency will lead to a drop in foreign investment due to his tax evasion cases and lack of credibility.
In the wake of the recession, should we elect a president who lacks credibility to manage our fiscal deficit? Should we, during the COVID-19 pandemic, elect a president who strongly opposed taxes earmarked for health?
In his proclamation speech in October 2021, the Vice-President confirmed that there is a way out of the current crisis we are facing and the way out is to rally towards a common goal. The way out is Leni Robredo, the symbol of true unity.
Pia Rodrigo is Strategic Communications Officer for Action for Economic Reforms