Robredo risks losing votes for excluding reformists — analysts

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VP LENI OFFICIAL ROBREDO FB PAGE

By Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza, Reporter

VICE-PRESIDENT Maria Leonor “Leni” G. Robredo risks losing votes given the lack of senatorial bets in her lineup that favor social reforms, political analysts said at the weekend.

Excluding labor leaders and activists critical of President Rodrigo R. Duterte has hit the image of her coalition as the “only and true opposition,” political science professor Antonio Contreras said in a Facebook Messenger call.

“It took a fatal hit on their image as the only and true opposition,” he said. “It’s contradictory because you always speak up for the marginalized and now you are leaving out candidates from the marginalized and progressive sectors.”

Ms. Robredo, who is running for President as an independent, last week named six more candidates in her senatorial slate, including incumbent senators and former Duterte allies, bringing the total to 11. The 12th spot is reserved for someone who would best represent the poor, she said last week.

Human rights activist and former congressman Neri J. Colmenares and labor leader Jose Sonny G. Matula were among her top choices for the last spot, she added.

At least five of Ms. Robredo’s senatorial bets — former Vice-President Jejomar C. Binay, Senators Juan Miguel F. Zubiri, Richard J. Gordon and Emmanuel Joel J. Villanueva and ex-Senator Francis G. Escudero — were also endorsed by other presidential aspirants.

Senators Gordon, Zubiri and Villanueva were among those who ousted Senator Leila M. de Lima as head of the social justice committee. Ms. De Lima, who is in jail and on trial for drug trafficking charges, is also part of Ms. Robredo’s ticket.

Civic groups have criticized Mr. Gordon, who recently started a word war with Mr. Duterte, for attacking Ms. De Lima in the past as Blue Ribbon committee chairman. He once accused her of profiting from the illegal drug trade inside the national jail when she was still Justice secretary. The Justice department under Ms. De Lima charged Mr. Villanueva in 2015 for alleged misuse of pork barrel funds.

Ms. Robredo’s top ally, ex-Senator Antonio F. Trillanes IV, was one of the key politicians who accused Mr. Binay of corruption over allegedly overpriced infrastructure projects in Makati when he was still its mayor.

“If you can adopt mortal enemies who are considered by many as traditional politicians, then why can’t you immediately adopt someone like Colmenares?” Mr. Contreras asked. “That is really something that will backfire.”

“Politics is addition and anything that she adds to her base is good,” he said. “Even if it is not a huge sector, groups from the political left are very well organized and can launch a national campaign.” Ms. Robredo has been trying to form alliances with established politicians “to bring in their support base in the campaign,” Maria Ela L. Atienza, a political science professor from the University of the Philippines, said in a Viber message.

“This is their strategy because of the lack of strong, big parties in the Philippines and the rampant lack of party loyalty,” she added.

Ms. Robredo could create a grassroots coalition of nontraditional groups and volunteers, while focusing on building a platform supported by various sectors, Ms. Atienza said.

“She can present a more appealing platform, including relevant issues instead of the personal attacks that some of the other presidential candidates are now resorting to,” she said. “This is a challenging task.”

Ms. Robredo, who heads the once ruling Liberal Party, earlier said she would work with different political groups critical of the Duterte government.

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