Vice-president Leni Robredo said the victory last year of Joe Biden over Donald Trump may be one signal that the world is fed up with populist leaders like Rodrigo Duterte so that he can be toppled in next year’s elections if the opposition comes up with a single common candidate.
For the opposition to defeat someone as popular as Duterte, Robredo said it must not only have a common candidate but it must agree “to the manner by which, you know, we fight off populism.”
According to Robredo, the opposition must accept that President Duterte is “very popular” among Filipinos despite several issues involving him and his officials in the past years.
Only a united front can challenge the administration’s presidential bet in 2022, she said.
“To have many candidates running in the elections will only ensure another six years of victory of the same kind of governance that the last five years (have) given us,” Robredo said in a leadership forum organized by the Cambridge University Filipino Society.
“And I’m not sure it’s in the best interest of the country,” she added.
Asked if she will be running for the presidency in the upcoming elections, Robredo said she’s looking into her campaign feasibility.
“A lot of people are rushing me to make a decision already when it’s not that easy because the feasibility of a presidential run is one of the primary considerations,” she said.
“It would require a lot of many different things because a run for the presidency is very much different from my previous run.”
Robredo, an opposition figure largely due to her aversion to Duterte’s drug war, said she remains “open” to running for any possible position in the 2022 elections but admitted she much prefers local positions.
She mentioned during the question-and-answer session after her speech before the students at the University of Cambridge’s Philippines in Public Policy Class of 2021 that populism made Duterte win arose because people felt left out.
“A lot of people feel left behind in economics and social progress. That is why they claimed to (welcome) ideas like disinformation in social media because it reinforces their feelings. It reinforces their beliefs,” Robredo said.
“And perhaps, this is what experts are telling us that to halt the rise of populism, we need to create more inclusive and more welcoming political systems not just in the Philippines but around the world,” she added.
“How social media (and) the proliferation of disinformation have contributed to the rise of populism, how the traditional sources of information have taken a backseat all these amplified the emotional reaction of ordinary people,” Robredo said.
Duterte is one of the most popular and charismatic leaders the country has seen in recent years.
He ran under the platform of “change is coming” when he won the presidency, the premise being he is against oligarchs and will work for the common people.
Over the years, Duterte managed to close down ABS-CBN, the country’s biggest media network owned by one of the richest families, the Lopez clan.
1Sambayan, a united opposition group convened by the President’s arch-nemesis, retired Supreme Court associate justice Antonio Carpio, has been vocal about considering the Vice-president to be its standard-bearer for the 2022 polls.
Robredo has remained unclear about her political plans and hinted at running for a gubernatorial post in her hometown of Camarines Sur.