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‘Isko-Leni Unity An Ongoing Hope’; Both Camps Must Stop Mudslinging, Keep Eye On The Ball – Erice

‘Isko-Leni Unity An Ongoing Hope’; Both Camps Must Stop Mudslinging, Keep Eye On The Ball – Erice
Vice President Leni Robredo and Manila Mayor Isko Moreno lead the Vaccine Express or the inoculation against COVID-19 of tricycle and pedicab drivers, as well as delivery riders, from the city on June 22, 2021 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. The program was a partnership between the Office of the Vice President and the city government of Manila. Photo from Robredo’s Facebook page

A longtime Liberal Party (LP) insider who changed parties to support the presidential bid of Manila Mayor Isko Moreno remains hopeful that unity could still be worked out with Vice President Leni Robredo for a united opposition in May 2022.

“I believe it’s an ongoing hope for everyone,” Caloocan City 2nd District Rep. Edgar Erice told “The Chiefs” on Cignal TV’s One Newslast Tuesday, Oct. 12.

He said candidates could still unite for a stronger bid against the Duterte administration’s bets and the aspirations of former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. – son and namesake of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos – to bring his family back to the highest echelons of power.

Erice, now a sworn member of Moreno’s Aksyon Demokratiko party, said he is hopeful a unification with LP happens.

However, a sacrifice either by Robredo or Moreno would be necessary for them to join forces, he said.

“There are a lot of game-changers. By Nov. 15, (Davao City Mayor) Sara (Duterte-Carpio) would substitute (for a national post), or by the next survey Bongbong could get the upperhand – that’s a game-changer,” Erice said in Filipino, voicing out his own speculations.

Erice said that whether or not they claim to be part of the opposition, Robredo’s and Moreno’s camps must cease from mudslinging.

“This early, I hope they realize a truce between them; refrain from mudslinging. Neither of them benefit from it,” he told The Chiefs.

Erice blamed his former LP colleagues for taking a swipe at Moreno, whose earlier comments appeared to have criticized Robredo and suggested that her only motivation was to trump Marcos’ bid for the presidency.

Moreno is also being faulted by LP members for having mentioned “yellowtards” – an offensive reference to LP supporters – in his speech.

But Erice blamed his former party for calling Moreno “a secret candidate” of President Duterte shortly after Robredo declared she would seek the presidency and for painting an image of the mayor as “lenient” toward the Marcoses.

“I saw the ‘yellows’ beating down on Mayor Isko, which was not right,” Erice said. “The Liberal Party has really been demonized. Others see we are holier than thou, and that is if your thinking does not match ours, that’s wrong.”

Erice said the LP should realize that by “bringing down” Moreno, the supporters they shave off his bandwagon would not drift toward Robredo, but to Duterte’s candidate or even to Marcos.

‘Keep eye on the ball’

According to Erice, it should be the common goal of the LP and Aksyon Demokratiko to prevent Duterte’s candidate and Marcos from winning a place in Malacañang.

He clarified that Moreno’s stand is clearly critical of Duterte’s style of governance and the alleged anomalous transactions of his administration with Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp.

Erice said both Robredo and Moreno should “keep their eye on the ball.”

Sino ba ‘yung ball? (Bongbong Marcos) and (President) Duterte,” he noted. “Sinong tumatawa sa atin ngayonSino ang makikinabang dito?  (Who’s laughing at us now? Who will benefit from this?” 

Erice warned it would be harder for Robredo to win without Moreno as the votes for the Manila mayor would not likely go to her.

Erice admitted that he did not agree with Moreno throwing a jab at Robredo. “Ako sa tingin ko mali ‘yung pagkapikon ni Mayor Isko...‘yung political projection niya mali (For me, Mayor Isko’s tirade was wrong, his political projection was wrong),” he said.

It can be recalled that Moreno called Robredo a fake leader with a fake color after the Vice President announced on Oct. 7 that she was running for president using pink as one of her campaign symbols.

Moreno slammed Robredo for running as an independent and who tried to unite the opposition  when she could not even put her own party members together.

He also took offense when told that one of the reasons why Robredo decided not to support his bid for the presidency was his stance on the Marcoses, an issue for the Vice President that is “non-negotiable.”

“‘Yan lang ba ang dahilan kung bakit siya tatakboPaano naman kaming mga Pilipino, wala kaming trabahoMaraming Pilipino nagdidildil ng asinMaraming Pilipino hindi malaman ano ang naghihintay sa kaniya sa kinabukasan (Is that the only reason why she will run? What about us Filipinos, we don’t have a job? Many Filipinos are starving. Many Filipinos don’t know what’s waiting for them in the future),” Moreno said in a press conference on Oct. 8, shortly after Robredo made the brief comment.

Marcos na namanBakit kailangan uminog ang mundo namin ngayon sa away ng Marcos at Aquino? Sa away ng anak ni Marcos, at mga anak at kasama ng yellowtards? Ay pink na pala sorry (Marcos again? Why does our world have to evolve between the fight of the Marcoses and Aquinos? In the fight of Marcos’ son, and (Aquino) children, and with the yellowtards? It’s pink now, sorry),” he added.

Moreno said this as Robredo clarified that the fight in the 2022 elections had become bigger than stopping Marcos and his family from returning to power. Robredo had also sought to identify herself as someone open to other parties and groups by running as an independent with a different color and as an independent instead of standard-bearer of LP that she chairs. She said she was not abandoning LP as the party declared its full support for her.

The color yellow is identified with the Aquinos as the 1986 EDSA people power revolution that toppled the Marcos dictatorship was ignited when former senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. was assassinated in 1983. His wife, the late former president Corazon “Cory” Aquino continued his fight for democracy. Their only son, Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino Jr. also became president from 2010 to 2016. Noynoy passed away on June 24.

Moreno also asked why he was being asked by Robredo’s supporters to withdraw when he also got the right to run a position in 2022.

Erice noted it was “natural” for candidates to trade barbs during election season.

Doors are open

Robredo’s spokesman, lawyer Barry Gutierrez, said that while the Vice President’s doors remain open to unity talks, her focus is now on harnessing the “overwhelming support” she has been receiving for her presidential bid.

Gutierrez also admitted in various interviews that they were surprised by Moreno’s outbursts, but would not want to focus on them. Gutierrez likewise stressed that they would like to respect the confidentiality of the meetings that the Vice President had with Moreno and other presidential hopefuls Senators Panfilo Lacson and Manny Pacquiao.

“We are trying to harness the overwhelming support from volunteers and other supporters who came out since Thursday,” Gutierrez said in Filipino in an interview with “Sa Totoo Lang” on One PH last week.

Gutierrez recalled that it was Robredo who initiated efforts for a united front against the Duterte administration.

“It reached a point that she had to self-reflect. She had to think about, ‘if this is the situation, what is the best thing that I should do?’ And her decision is that she herself needed to run,” he added.

In Leni’s defense

On Wednesday, Oct. 13, former Negros Occidental governor Rafael Coscolluela came to the defense of Robredo, who has been criticized for being a “socialist” and “pro-land distribution” advocate.

Coscolluela, a convenor of the Negros for Leni Movement, said these were “old and misleading” allegations against the Vice President.

He said these stemmed from Robredo’s co-authorship of the bill that sought to create an Agrarian Reform Commission to investigate “circumvention and violations” of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law when she was still a congresswoman.

The issue cropped up just after the VICMICO Planters’ Association, VICMICO Planters’ Multi-Purpose Cooperative and the VMC Farmers Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Negros Occidental expressed support for Robredo’s candidacy.

“It’s because there’s no other issue to raise against Leni Robredo,” he said. – With Janvic Mateo, Gilbert Bayoran