Philippine Vice President Leni Robredo after filing her certificate of candidacy for next year’s presidential elections in Metropolitan Manila on Thursday. (AP)
Duterte critic Leni Robredo will contest vote as independent
MANILA: Philippines Vice President Leni Robredo on Thursday joined the race for the country’s presidency, vowing to defeat “old and rotten politics.”
The Philippines will hold presidential elections on May 9 next year. Presidential hopefuls must file their candidacy papers with the Commission on Elections by Friday.
Robredo, a human rights lawyer and mother of three who leads the opposition and has served as vice president since 2016, has been critical of incumbent President Rodrigo Duterte over many issues, especially his deadly war on drugs and handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Presidents and vice presidents are elected separately in the Philippines and, like Robredo and Duterte, can come from rival parties. In the 2022 election, Robredo will contest the country’s top office as an independent candidate.
“We must free ourselves from the current situation. I will fight. We will fight. I offer myself as a candidate for the presidency in the 2022 elections,” Robredo said in a speech in front of her office in Quezon City. “We will defeat the old and rotten brand of politics.”
Robredo said that she had not planned to run, but over past weeks had been working on unifying anti-Duterte forces for the 2022 election.
“We should change not just the surnames of those in power. The corruption, the incompetence and the lack of compassion must be replaced by competence and integrity in leadership,” she said in her Thursday address.
“There is much hunger, suffering and death because those in power have prioritized self-interest over the welfare of the Filipino.”
Robredo first ran for public office in 2013. She served one term as a member of the House of Representatives and was relatively unknown on the political scene before she joined the vice presidential race in 2016. Her party’s candidate for president lost to Duterte.
As Robredo filed her candidacy, 1Sambayan, the opposition coalition that first endorsed her presidential bid, said that her decision “began the fight to regain our country’s democracy and integrity in governance.”
The group said in a statement: “It is a light of hope that comes at a time of great uncertainty: A country on its knees due to a failed pandemic response, a struggling economy and a backdrop of the loss of lives and livelihood for the Filipino people.”
Aside from Robredo and boxing legend Manny Pacquiao, those who have filed their candidacy include Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the son and namesake of the Philippine dictator who ruled the country for over two decades until he was removed by a popular revolt in 1986.
When Marcos declared his candidacy for president earlier this week, he vowed to continue Duterte’s war on drugs and shield the campaign from an ongoing International Criminal Court investigation.
The Akbayan party, which also endorses Robredo, said in a statement to Arab News that her decision to contest the election offered a democratic alternative to the status quo.
“Next year’s election is now a battle between democracy’s best defender, and the offspring of past and present dictators,” the party said.
“We now have a real democratic alternative who can stop the continuation of tyranny, win the fight against the pandemic and economic recession, and lead us back safely to the path of democracy.”