OPPOSITION coalition 1Sambayan has officially endorsed Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” G. Robredo as its standard bearer for the 2022 elections.

Ms. Robredo, in a statement released after the group’s announcement on Thursday, thanked 1Sambayan but did not confirm whether or not she would accept the nomination.

“1Sambayan is pleased to announce to the nation that it has reached a decision to endorse Vice President Leni Robredo as its presidential candidate for the May 2022 electrons,” Retired Supreme Court justice Antonio T. Carpio, convenor of the opposition coalition, said in a media forum.

Mr. Carpio said the coalition followed a “rigorous process” in reaching the decision, adding that it consulted its local and foreign chapters and coalition partners.

“We based our decision on several criteria: integrity, competence, track record, patriotism, vision for our country, and winnability,” he said. “We have chosen VP Leni based on these criteria.”

Mr. Carpio said it is unlikely that Ms. Robredo would decline the endorsement, citing her commitment to bail the country out from alleged plunder and other social ills.

Should Ms. Robredo decline the endorsement, the convenors will meet again to choose a new candidate, he said.

In June, 1Sambayan announced that Ms. Robredo was among its potential candidates for the country’s two highest positions.

Ms. Robredo, meanwhile, said she is still in deep discernment over her political plans, noting the heavy responsibility of being president.

“Mabigat ang hinihiling sa isang pangulo. Maraming responsibilidad at obligasyon ang dala nito — buhay at kinabukasan ng Pilipino ang nakataya (Much is expected from a president. It bears a lot of responsibilities and obligations — the life and future of Filipinos are at stake),” she said in a statement.

Ms. Robredo asked supporters to join her in “prayer” so “that our decision will be what is best for our country.”

Political science professor Maria Ela L. Atienza said it was expected that Ms. Robredo would be the candidate of the opposition coalition since she has clearly stood against the controversial policies of President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

“She is, after all, the ‘true opposition’ as the other candidates have not started out as opposition,” she said in a Viber message. “Many of them are enablers of the Duterte administration policies and some of the people behind their campaign are or were Duterte supporters at one time.”

Ms. Atienza said Ms. Robredo’s “advantage is that she can capitalize on the progressive sectors who are genuinely anti-Duterte or anti-administration policies.”

“The task now is to increase those numbers and convince other voters that the other candidates are not genuine opposition,” she said.

Ms. Robredo’s rankings in pre-election surveys will improve once she declares her candidacy, said Ateneo Policy Center senior research fellow Michael Henry Ll. Yusingco. “In fact, it has improved even in the face of her indecisiveness.”

Support for Ms. Robredo’s potential presidential run increased by two points to 8%, according to a new Pulse Asia survey.

“Any rise in her position in any survey will not be enough to beat the others if she just relies on an anti-Duterte narrative,” Mr. Yusingco said.

The political analyst said Ms. Robredo, who has been trying to unify administration critics ahead of the upcoming polls, needs to “talk directly to the voters outside of her echo chamber.”

“The only way she can bring them to her side is by offering a program of government that is doable under the current circumstances,” Mr. Yusingco said.

“Voters already know her work ethic, her love for the country, her reliability as a civil servant and her competence as an executive. Her track record is unimpeachable. So there is no need to harp on these things.”

Mr. Yusingco said more voters “will be moved if they can see that VP Leni and her team has a better and more coherent way out of the current crisis.”

“If her camp sticks to the same old tactics, then it’s hard to imagine her winning the race,” he said. “They should remind themselves all the time of the Otso Diretso debacle in 2019.” — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

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