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May 9 Philippine Election: Bongbong Marcos vs Leni Robredo


By: Bob Boyer


On a recent Sunday in March, my friend John, and I met coming out of Church. We hadn’t seen one another for more months than either of us could remember. Still I was confident that John would ask about the Philippines; I doubted if even the pandemic had erased that interest; it hadn’t. But I was surprised by his opening comment: “I guess not much different is happening in the Philippines with Duterte in power.” “Ah, I answered, “It’s election season, John.”

The official campaign season for the presidency began recently, on February 9, 2022. Elections are on May 9. By law campaigning is officially allowed for only three months. While the climax of the campaigns arrives in these three months, some candidates have, effectively, been campaigning for many months and planning even for years. Bongbong Marcos, son of the former President/Dictator Ferdinand Marcos has been unofficially campaigning for six years. Leni Robredo, who had defeated Bongbong Marcos for Vice President in a come-from-behind victory in 2016, had refused until the last minute to become a candidate for president.

Since I had been planning to write about Leni Robredo this April, even before she declared her candidacy, I decided to look in on her campaign a little over a month before the election. What better way to get to know more in detail about someone than when they are campaigning to be the next president of the country? I offer selected headlines to share some of the details that I have garnered about Robredo. In some cases I share specific details; in others I let the headline stand for itself.

“Robredo: I will run if the unity ticket chooses me,” The Manila Times, Sept. 18, 2021. Robredo reluctantly agreed to run in 2016 when her husband, who would have run, was killed in an airplane accident. She was little known, outside of human-rights advocacy groups, but she came from far behind to win by a razor-thin margin. Marcos appealed, claiming that he had won, but an official examination proved otherwise.

“Group rallies support for Robredo as she calls for a united opposition,” Zacarian Sarao, Inquirer. net, Sept. 26, 2021. “With barely a week before the start of filing of certificates of candidacy (COC), a group of trade union members, workers, and farmers has expressed support for Vice President Leni Robredo as she calls for a united opposition in the election next year.”

“Robredo bares Senate slate, turns foes into allies vs. Duterte,” Rappler, Oct. 15, 2021. Candidates for president seek to form alliances among the 20 senators, both during and after elections.

“Pinoys need compassionate leaders to address woes”—Robredo, The Philippine Star, Nov. 27, 2021.

“Leni Robredo: A movement is born,” Richard Heydarian, Philippine Inquirer, December 14, 2021. Robredo could be a long-term antidote to chronic corruption.

“180,000—strong teachers group backs Robredo-Pangilinan tandem,” Cecille Suerte Felipe, The Philippine Star, February 27, 2022. Teachers’ Group endorses Robredo’s candidacy.

“Fitch Solutions: Bongbong Marcdos win not guaranteed amid tax case, Leni Robredo momentum,” Miguel R. Camus,” Philippine Daily Inquirer, Mar. 25, 2022. The most recent survey shows Marcos with a giant lead over Robredo but with Robredo starting to gain traction, even in some of Duterte’s geographic areas of support in places like Samar and parts of Mindanao. (Bongbong Marcos had allied himself with Duterte; Duterte, however, has not endorsed any candidate thus far.)

“Gobyernong Tepit: A Look at Robredo’s platform and the people around her,” Philstar.com, Feb. 27, 2022, Xave Gregoria. Provides a “cheat sheet” about Robredo’s campaign platform and her focus as president if she were elected. This article is definitely the most useful way to get to know about Robredo’s values as a person and as a political leader. If elected Robredo would champion the following: “Ongoing Pandemic Response;” “Human Rights;” “Education and Youth;” “Job Creation and Retention.” The article outlines how Robredo would proceed in each of these areas. On a personal level, as an educator I find this platform outstanding. It is idealistic but also practical and achievable in some measure. Anyone voting in this election would do well to review this article.

My vote, if I could cast one, would go to Robredo. But Robredo will have to come up with an even bigger come-back victory this time than she did six years ago. I had told my friend John that Robredo should win the presidency easily; that was before I examined the above articles and discovered that in an important recent survey Bongbong Marcos had been chosen by 60 percent of those surveyed. Robredo was second with only 17 percent.

I should not have been surprised, considering that Duterte’s enormous support has come from social media. Robredo, on the other hand, seems to thrive by attracting large crowds in festive settings. She had recently drawn 90,000 to one event and 120,000 to a different event. And, as seen on Robredo’s Facebook Page, the crowds are enthusiastic, largely younger people who tend to become active campaigners. Nonetheless, though it might seem unlikely, I believe that the in-person galas can still better the cell-phone crowds. I’m standing by my prediction to my friend John.

Bob Boyer welcomes agreements and disagreements at Robert.boyer@snc.edu.

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