The Philippines’ outgoing vice president, Leni Robrefo, who came out a runner-up in this year’s presidential election, is rallying the political opposition through what could be the country’s “largest volunteer network.”
Speaking to supporters who gathered for a thanksgiving rally at the Jesuit-run Ateneo de Manila University on Friday, May 13, Robredo said there was “no effort wasted” during the political campaign in her bid for the presidency.
“Nothing’s wasted. We were not heartbroken. Whatever we worked hard for will only be wasted if we stop and go back to the old system. Like what I’ve said: Those who have opened their eyes, will no longer turn a blind eye,” she told the crowd.
“Allow yourself to cry,” she said. “But when you’re ready to wipe away the tears, prepare yourself, strengthen your heart, because we have work to do.”
The vice president then announced that she will be launching the “Angat Buhay NGO” on July 1 when her term ends.
Angat Buhay, a program launched by Robredo’s office in 2016, aims to help uplift the lives of those in poor communities with the aid of the private sector. She invited her supporters, especially those who helped during the campaign, to volunteer for the project.
“We will not choose who get our help, we will not turn our backs against anyone. We will show them the power of radical love,” she said.
The vice president also said she will continue to fight disinformation, which she described as “biggest enemy” during the campaign.
“I know we have so much strength to give …. I will focus my energy to fight lies, and I’m asking you to fight with me. We need to be a movement that will defend the truth,” she said.
Robredo called on her supporters to respect the result of the elections and the decision of the majority.
“Today is not the end, instead this a the start of a new chapter that together we will write,” she said.
An emotional crowd of supporters who gathered at the Ateneo de Manila University vowed to continue their support for Robredo.
Corazon Figurasin, 60, was at the venue of the rally four hours before the event after taking a boat trip ride from Talim Island in the province of Rizal to the national capital.
“I don’t believe that Ma’am Leni only got that much votes,” she said. “I can accept loss, but not with that much gap,” she said in Filipino.
“Of course, I cried,” she said, “but there’s nothing we can do now but move on and help each other.”
Emilyn Ganapin of the group “Mumshies for Leni” said the community they have formed all over the country should continue.
“When we started, there were only 50 of us, but now we have groups in Visayas and Mindanao. It would be a pity if we just ignore it, that’s why we continue the fight in the spirit of volunteerism,” said Ganapin.
“I know that we did everything,” she said, “but they have the machinery. They have the money, they have a lot of allies,” said Ganapin.
Lawyer Antonio La Viña, political analyst and former dean of the Ateneo School of Government, said Robredo’s Angat Buhay NGO can be a successful opposition movement, but it has to “first shake off the elitist label and, above all, be aggressive in fighting disinformation.”
He said the NGO is a “proof of concept” that Robredo’s kind of leadership is “not just an opposition, but a constructive movement that can help build our country.”