MANILA, Philippines — With the election less than two months away, Vice President Leni Robredo is banking on the wave of volunteers and supporters to help her win the presidency.
Just hours after addressing thousands of supporters in Bacolod City on Friday night, Robredo was already in Cagayan to start a campaign day in the known bailiwick of rival Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
During her first stop in the city of Tuguegarao, the vice president expressed her gratitude to those who had the courage to campaign for her despite the north’s known ties to her main rival.
In a speech, Robredo admitted to being nervous ahead of her visit, saying she wondered if people would come out to meet her after the huge turnout at Negros Occidental the day before.
The response from his supporters was clear. There is no “solid North”, they said, a reference to the supposed electoral bloc of northern provinces for the Marcos.
And while the enthusiasm is clear among Robredo’s supporters, the vice president herself has acknowledged the challenge of convincing voters in her rival’s bailiwick to support her bid for president.
In the 2016 vice-presidential race, Robredo lost by a wide margin in most of the northern Luzon provinces.
Only a handful of local politicians have publicly endorsed his candidacy, including Mayor Tin Antonio of Alcala, Cagayan, where a campaign outing took place.
In his presentation of the vice-president, Antonio recalled how Robredo helped the province during the onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses.
Tuguegarao City Councilwoman Marj Martin-Chan noted how Robredo responded to calls for help in the middle of the night and immediately provided assistance to those affected by the typhoon, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic. .
From Alcala, the vice president traveled to Isabela, where a rally was held in Echague.
In an earlier interview, she expressed her excitement about meeting supporters in both provinces, noting how they braved the mockery and threats they received for her support.
Echague, in particular, was where supporters had to deal with local officials breaking into their campaign headquarters to take materials believed to violate campaign rules.
The Supreme Court has since issued a temporary restraining order against Election Commission Oplan Baklas or the removal of volunteer-funded campaign materials posted on private property.
For Robredo, the number of people speaking out in support is an indication of a growing momentum that can carry her to victory.
In her speech in Bacolod City, where organizers estimated a record 70,000 turnout, the vice president rallied her supporters to further bolster what she consistently describes as a “grassroots campaign.”
“I know you feel what I feel: our momentum and energy are building. More and more people are joining our ranks,” she said in Filipino.
“Let’s keep our voices heard so more people can see that it’s possible to campaign like this.” That this kind of government is possible: Honest, people at the center, with real unity,” she added.