By Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza, Reporter
VICE President Maria Leonor “Leni” G. Robredo on Thursday filed her certificate of candidacy for president, ending months of speculations about her political plans for next year.
The opposition leader, who heads the Liberal Party, will run as an independent candidate, the Commission on Elections tweeted.
Ms. Robredo, who has been endorsed by several civic groups, vowed to “defeat the old and rotten brand of politics.” “We will return the capacity to bring change to the hands of the ordinary Filipino,” she said in a speech streamed live on Facebook hours before her filing.
Former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr., who lost to her by a hair in the vice-presidential race in 2016, filed his candidacy certificate a day earlier.
Ms. Robredo earlier said that the candidacy of the late dictator’s only son and namesake would be a big factor in her decision.
Recent opinion polls showed that Mr. Marcos was among the top three choices for president.
Ms. Robredo had chosen Liberal Party President Francis N. Pangilinan as her vice-president, said two ranking party officials who asked not to be named.
She pledged to start changes in education, transportation, food security, health and social justice and make government accountable.
The vice-president, who has opposed the Duterte administration’s war on drugs and ties with China, said change won’t happen if the tough-talking leader’s allies win in the elections next year.
Ms. Robredo, who has not performed well in opinion polls, said it would be difficult to challenge the ruling party because her political machinery was not strong enough.
“The challenge now is how to expand her support base,” said Maria Ela L. Atienza, a political science professor from the University of the Philippines.
“She needs to highlight not just the anti-Duterte narratives but to actually present doable and concrete programs to deal with the pandemic and economic difficulties,” she said in a Viber message. “She has to make her programs relevant to the day-to-day lives of people.”
Earlier this month, opposition coalition 1Sambayan endorsed Ms. Robredo as its standard bearer for the 2022 elections. She did not immediately accept the endorsement, saying she had not decided to run.
The Supreme Court in February rejected Mr. Marcos’s election protest against Ms. Robredo after he failed to prove election fraud. He filed the protest in June 2016 after narrowly losing the face.
In the Philippines, the president and vice president are elected separately and can come from different political parties.
A group campaigning against the return of the Marcoses to the presidential palace this week said Mr. Marcos’s presidential run is “a brazen show of disregard and contempt” for the thousands of Filipinos who were killed and tortured under the martial rule of his late father, Ferdinand E. Marcos.
Mr. Marcos, who was among the first to return to the Philippines from exile in the United States in 1991, announced his presidential ambition hours after his transfer to a party that endorsed him for president.
His family was forced to flee the country in 1986 after a popular street uprising toppled his father’s two-decade rule, during which the family allegedly amassed billions of pesos in ill-gotten wealth.
The government has recovered P174 billion of the assets, according to the Presidential Commission on Good Government.
More than 70,000 people were jailed, about 34,000 were tortured and more than 3,000 people died under the dictator’s martial rule, according to Amnesty International.
Ms. Robredo was the fifth mainstream politician to announce a presidential run. She had been in talks with various political camps critical of the Duterte government.
Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko” M. Domagoso, Senator and boxing champion Emmanuel “Manny” D. Pacquiao and Senator Panfilo M. Lacson have filed their certificates of candidacy for president.
Ms. Robredo was thrust in the political limelight after the death of her husband and local government champion Jesse M. Robredo. She run for a House of Representatives seat in 2013 and won.
Before that, she lawyered for the poor and worked with the Public Attorney’s Office.
During her stint as Camariñes Sur representative, Ms. Robredo filed bills seeking to end political dynasties and mandating government offices to disclose financial transactions.
She also filed a bill that encouraged civic groups and the private sector to take part in local governance.