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LP Official Says Mar Backing Leni, Not Isko

LP Official Says Mar Backing Leni, Not Isko

Former senator Mar Roxas is backing the presidential bid of Vice President Leni Robredo in the May 2022 elections, a Liberal Party (LP) official said on Wednesday night, Oct. 13.


LP vice president and senatorial candidate Teddy Baguilat revealed that Roxas supports Robredo amid reports that the party’s standard-bearer in the 2016 elections is instead supporting the presidential bid of Manila Mayor Isko Moreno of Aksyon Demoktatiko.


“Mar has retired from politics but he still supports Ma’am Leni. He still gives us guidance,” Baguilat told “The Chiefs” on One News.


The former Ifugao congressman also bared that Roxas has tapped some of his staff from his 2016 presidential campaign to help Robredo.


Asked about Baguilat’s statement, Roxas said in a text message: “Nice to be missed but am retired.”


Reports of Roxas supporting Moreno circulated after another LP stalwart, Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice, defected the party and transferred to Moreno’s Aksyon Demokratiko.


The campaign team of Moreno is also reportedly holding office at the Araneta Center in Cubao, Quezon City owned by the family of Roxas.


Roxas already denied the rumor and said there are no campaign headquarters of any presidential candidate in Araneta Center. He noted that “several appear to be referencing me or speculating on what I’m doing.”


“The LP which occupied space across Farmer’s Market moved out shortly after 2016. I am focusing on my family, have retired from politics, and my Araneta family were engaged only because they were supporting me,” he said in a statement last Monday, Oct. 11.


Meanwhile, Baguilat also clarified that the ticket of Robredo is “not a Liberal Party ticket” but rather the “Leni-Kiko” ticket, referring to Robredo’s runnin mate, LP president and Sen. Francis Pangilinan.


He explained that their lineup is not limited to the LP, but includes candidates from other opposition forces.


Baguilat stressed that of their five senatorial bets so far, only he and detained reelectionist Sen. Leila de Lima belong to the LP.


Reelectionist Sen. Risa Hontiveros, returning senator Antonio Trillanes IV and human rights lawyer Chel Diokno are running under their respective parties Akbayan, Magdalo and KNP, Baguilat said.


Robredo is reportedly also talking with Neri Colmenares of Bayan Muna, Sonny Matula of Nagkaisa and the Federation of Free Workers, and Alex Lacson of Kapatiran Party for their possible inclusion in the senatorial ticket.


“Our campaign will be non-traditional and citizens-led,” he stressed.


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Leni still open to united opposition talks


In the same interview, Baguilat said Robredo remains open to pursue talks with other presidential aspirants for unification of opposition forces despite earlier failed negotiations.


They include Manila Mayor Isko Moreno despite his recent tirades against the Vice President and also with Senators Panfilo “Ping” Lacson and Manny Pacquiao.


“VP Leni emphasized that lines are still open on talks with the camps of Isko, Manny and Ping… There (are) no negotiations ongoing at this point, but Mam Leni said we must keep the line open,” Baguilat told The Chiefs.


The former Ifugao congressman also believes that the tension between their camp and that of Moreno has already eased as they are “now civil with each other.”


Last week, Robredo said Moreno’s position on the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos was one factor that pushed her to run for president.


In response, Moreno accused Robredo of running for president for the sake of blocking the candidacy of former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. instead of focusing on solutions to the country’s problems.


Moreno also called Robredo a "fake leader” with a “fake color" after the Vice President decided to run as an independent candidate even if she is the current chairman of LP and use pink as her campaign color. LP is associated with the color yellow.


Baguilat has likewise dismissed calls from other camps for Robredo to slide down or give way to candidates with higher ranks in surveys.


“The problem with that is who says who is stronger bet at this time. Historically, whoever is frontrunner at this period does not win. On our part, we are confident with whoever will be tandem of Leni Robredo because she has a solid base,” he argued.


He said the real pulse of the people would be known by December at the earliest or during campaign period.


The former congressman said supporters of Robredo are solidly behind her because of her “consistent position on issues as a critical voice against this administration.”


“The other candidates appear to be not for the administration, but also not for the opposition - unlike Leni who has made her stand very clear,” he explained.


While their camp is still open to a possible unity among opposition forces, Baguilat said Robredo’s camp is now focusing on completing its senatorial lineup just like all other parties.


“Right now our focus is to negotiate with other sectors and political affiliations. We’re trying to unite what is considered as opposition to this administration, including 1Sambayan, Makabayan and other forces,” he bared.


Baguilat further revealed that many local officials have sent feelers of support to Robredo after seeing the groundswell of support following her filing of candidacy last week.


Baguilat likewise belied the claim of former LP stalwart Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice who defected their party and joined Moreno’s Aksyon Demokratiko due to alleged “lack of direction” from Robredo’s leadership.


He recalled that LP held a general assembly early this year where they passed a resolution giving Robredo the discretion to decide on the direction of the party.


“She said in later interviews that she’s open to running for president, but her priority was to first unite the opposition forces,” Baguilat said.


Baguilat also reminded Erice of their shared advocacies against policies of the Duterte administration.


“He even delivered a rare privilege speech against EJKs (extrajudicial killings) in Caloocan, especially on the case of Kian delos Santos. He made an impassioned speech condemning EJKs. And it was Leni who started criticisms on EJK. That’s why I was really hurt when he said Leni has no leadership because from the very start, in 2016, Leni said she will lead the opposition,” he pointed out.


Still, Baguilat said they have not burned bridges with Erice whom they value for his leadership and support in the past two decades.


“We don’t know what’s gonna happen next because there are cases of former members returning to their parties,” he added.