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No Betrayal As Unity Talks Collapsed; Leni Not Giving Up On Unifying People

No Betrayal As Unity Talks Collapsed; Leni Not Giving Up On Unifying People
Vice President Leni Robredo and former senator Antonio Trillanes IV. Photo from Trillanes’ Facebook page

Former senator Antonio Trillanes IV clarified on Thursday, Oct. 14, there was no betrayal when Vice President Leni Robredo decided to run for the country’s highest post as unity talks already failed when she made the decision.

Trillanes, who is seeking to return to the Senate under the slate of Robredo, said he himself was getting frustrated when the Vice President couldn’t decide yet on whether to run for president as she was trying to unify the various opposition forces.

The camp of Manila Mayor Isko Moreno admitted that the local chief executive felt a sense of betrayal as Robredo was supposedly working for him to gun for the presidency with Sen. Manny Pacquiao as vice president, only to see the Vice President declaring her presidential bid as well.

Moreno’s campaign manager Lito Banayo said in an interview with “Wag Po!” on One PH Tuesday, Oct. 12, that the mayor thought Robredo really wanted to broker a unified opposition slate.

For his part, Sen. Panfilo Lacson told Pandesal Forum on Thursday that he felt that the unification talks were for Robredo, who is Liberal Party (LP) chairperson running as an independent. He said he was insulted when during their recent meeting, LP stalwart and Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon made a hand gesture suggesting that Senate President Vicente Sotto III become Robredo’s running mate instead of his.

Trillanes told “The Big Story” on One News  no one among them knew if Robredo would run  and “that's the truth.”

Trillanes said the Vice President was honest and was willing to give way to any of them to unify the opposition so the revelations of Moreno and Lacson were not consistent with what Robredo really intended to do.

Nabuo lang ‘yung kanyang desisyon after nag-fail ‘yung mga talks so I don't see any betrayal there,” Trillanes stressed.

Trillanes said it was clear that the presidential candidates – Robredo, Pacquiao, Moreno and Lacson – got irreconcilable differences and that the Vice President declared that once she has filed her certificate of candidacy, there is no turning back.

People can be united

For her part, Robredo told a forum hosted by the Rotary Club of Manila on Thursday that she never really intended to run because “I did not have enough resources” and the “last five and a half years have been very difficult for me” as LP was decimated.

“We have not had the opportunity to really deal with many different areas which can strengthen my political reach,” she said, reiterating that she was being practical and wanted to go back to her province to run for a local post.

“If you look at my numbers, they are not very encouraging, and we expected that. I have been at the receiving end of a lot of disinformation, a lot of fake news. Sabi ko nga, if I will describe the five and a half years that passed, sabi ko para akong na-hazing,” Robredo said.

She cited the election protest filed against her by defeated vice presidential bet and former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.  and getting booted out of two government positions.

Robredo said the best solution to beat the administration candidates in 2022 was for the opposition forces to come together.

Pero, I’ve been to a lot of unification talks. I had non-negotiables…there were just a few things that I wanted to know before I decide on supporting a particular candidate. And when the unification talks collapsed, in fact, I was even on the verge of just weighing which of those contenders would…make the most sense for me to support. But then, because my non-negotiables were still there, at the last minute, I decided to run,” Robredo noted.

“And running and having a difficult fight is something that’s not new to me,” she said, citing her experiences when she ran as Camarines Sur representative in 2013 and as vice president in 2016. “What I was able to prove is that resources will help you, but it’s not the end all, be all of everything. If you do an honest-to-goodness campaign where you allow people to get to know you, hindi imposibleng Manalo (it’s not impossible to win).”

The Vice President said she spoke with the other presidential contenders from August to September and “that is all I ever did.”

“Of course, I cannot revel the details of all the discussions…but while unification was a very important objective…there was a limit. There was a limit to what we can unify behind. When I decided to run for the presidency, it was my signal to move on already from all attempts to unify the personalities and the parties,” she pointed out.

She said she remains honorary chairperson of LP but running as an independent was her symbolic way of showing her openness to those who believe in her cause.

“We have seen where hateful and divisive politics can lead our countries, especially during the pandemic, and my personal take on this is that now more than ever, we really need to put our people’s welfare first before politics,” she said.

“We have been pushing for inclusivity and we have already started doing this after I filed by reaching out and talking to those who are not members of the party. From the start…our goal has always been to forge the broadest unity possible. But the 2022 elections is not just about me or our party or between the personalities, it’s really the collective power of the people. So, we have already finalized our slate,” Robredo added.

After announcing their senatorial slate, Robredo said people you will see that it is composed of representatives from many different parties.

“So, if unity was not possible among the presidential contenders, I have not given up on unifying our people. And we have seen from the response after the announcement and after the filing that we have been getting support from people who belong to different parties or people who were apolitical at first, now volunteering to help join our cause,” Robredo stated. “So we are very hopeful that unity is still possible. Maybe not among the presidential contenders but definitely, among many different kinds of people from many different political affiliations.”

On Wednesday, Oct. 13, LP vice president and senatorial candidate Teddy Baguilat said Robredo is open to negotiate with even if their camps recently traded barbs; or even with Lacson and Pacquiao.

But Baguilat told “The Chiefs” on One News that there are no ongoing negotiations.

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

Last week, their camps locked horns as Moreno took offense at Robredo’s remarks that they failed to come together politically because of his stance on the Marcoses, which to her was “non-negotiable.”

Moreno then questioned Robredo’s motivation in running for president if it was all for the sake of blocking former Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s bid instead of the desire to solve the country’s problems.

The Manila mayor also called Robredo a “fake leader” with a “fake color,” criticizing her having opted to file her certificate of candidacy (COC) as an independent and not as a Liberal despite being the party’s chairperson; and choosing pink as her campaign color even if the LP is identified with the color yellow.

What sets Robredo apart is that her supporters know her for her “consistent position on issues as a critical voice against this administration,” Baguilat said.

“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 added.

In Baguilat’s interview with The Chiefs the night before, he said: “We’re trying to unite what is considered as opposition to this administration, including 1Sambayan, Makabayan and other forces.”

So far, they have released five names in their senatorial ticket: Trillanes of Magdalo, reelectionist Sen. Risa Hontiveros of Akbayan, law dean Chel Diokno of Katipunan ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino (KNP), and two LP members – reelectionist Sen. Leila de Lima and Baguilat.

Earlier, Robredo was reportedly in talks 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 her senatorial slate.

Baguilat also clarified that Robredo’s tandem with Sen. Francis Pangilinan as her vice president is “not a Liberal Party ticket” but rather the “Leni-Kiko” ticket.??