ELECTIONS 2022: Robredo gains ground in fight to be Philippines' 3rd female president

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Philippine Vice President Leni Robredo, a presidential candidate for the 2022 Philippine election, speaks during her campaign rally in Rizal province, Philippines, on April 5, 2022.(Photo by Lisa Marie David/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Philippine Vice President Leni Robredo, a presidential candidate for the 2022 Philippine election, speaks during her campaign rally in Rizal province, Philippines, on April 5, 2022.(Photo by Lisa Marie David/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

With just days left to the May 9 election, incumbent vice president (VP) Leni Robredo has gained some ground on frontrunner Ferdinand Marcos Jr., according to a poll published Wednesday (April 6).

Robredo gained 9 percentage points in the Pulse Asia survey conducted March 17-21, putting her at a voter preference score of 24%. Marcos, on the other hand, saw his score dipping to 56% – from 60% in a February survey. Still, he continues to enjoy a significant lead.

The survey polled 2,400 people face to face.

Being the incumbent VP could play either way for Robredo, who is gunning for the Presidential ticket.

On one hand, she's had almost six years of experience being second-in-command and many years in politics.

On the other, she's known to be at odds with incumbent President Rodrigo Duterte and his policies, earning her the wrath of Duterte's supporters. She has become the biggest victim of disinformation campaigns among this year's presidential candidates, according to a fact-checking initiative.

For instance, she has most recently been accused of receiving questions in advance of the end-February CNN presidential debate. She replied to the rumors on Facebook, "Does that mean you were impressed?"

“To those saying that I received advance questions for the debate: Thank you, even though it’s not true,” she added.

The network has clarified that no questions were given in advance for the debate which involved nine of the 10 candidates.

Arguably the most powerful opposition figure in the Philippines currently, Robredo, 56, has slammed several of Duterte's key policies such as his bloody war on drugs and pro-China policies. Duterte has publicly attacked Robredo for her comments.

Robredo became VP after beating Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. – the late dictator's son and namesake – by a slim margin in the 2016 election. Marcos later waged a four-year legal battle to unseat her, which came to naught when the Supreme Court unanimously dismissed the case in February.

On October 7, 2021, Robredo aimed to go a step further in her career by announcing that she is running for president in this year's election. Curiously, she did so as an independent candidate despite being the chairperson of the Liberal Party. This, she said, was to show her openness to forming alliances with other political groups. But by doing so, she cannot leverage on the political machinery of the Liberty Party to her advantage.

Political/professional career

FILE - In this Nov. 6, 2019, file photo, Philippine Vice-president Leonor
FILE - In this Nov. 6, 2019, file photo, Philippine Vice-president Leonor "Leni" Robredo delivers her statement in suburban Quezon city northeast of Manila, Philippines. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday Nov, 24, 2019 removed the vice president from a lead role in his anti-drug crackdown just a few weeks after she accepted the post and vowed to make the campaign that has left thousands of suspects dead less bloody. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez, File)

Following her husband's death in 2012, Robredo entered politics in 2013 and won a congressional seat, representing her husband’s old constituency, the third district of Camarines Sur. Her husband died in a plane crash while serving in the administration of late President Benigno Aquino III.

During her term, Robredo prioritized participatory governance and transparency. She has authored or backed bills that sought to allow more citizen participation in decision and policy-making, and promoted transparency in the taxation process, among others.

As VP, she was appointed Housing Minister but later resigned after being told by Duterte not to attend Cabinet meetings.

Should Robredo win the presidency, she would be the third woman to lead the Philippines. The previous two women who became President were Corazon Aquino in 1986 and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2001.

Candidate's issues of focus

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - JULY 20: Philippine Vice President Leni Robredo looks on as a public transportation worker is inoculated with Sinovac Biotech's CoronaVac COVID-19 vaccine during a mass vaccination for public transportation workers on July 20, 2021 in Manila, Philippines. The Philippines, which is currently suffering the second-worst COVID-19 outbreak in Southeast Asia with more than 1.5 million cases and more than 26,800 deaths, is struggling to cope with the demand for vaccines after the health ministry confirmed the presence of the more contagious Delta variant in the country. (Photo by Ezra Acayan/Getty Images)
MANILA, PHILIPPINES - JULY 20: Philippine Vice President Leni Robredo looks on as a public transportation worker is inoculated with Sinovac Biotech's CoronaVac COVID-19 vaccine during a mass vaccination for public transportation workers on July 20, 2021 in Manila, Philippines. The Philippines, which is currently suffering the second-worst COVID-19 outbreak in Southeast Asia with more than 1.5 million cases and more than 26,800 deaths, is struggling to cope with the demand for vaccines after the health ministry confirmed the presence of the more contagious Delta variant in the country. (Photo by Ezra Acayan/Getty Images)

In her current campaign, Robredo has promised to usher in a government that cares for the people and not personal interests.

"If we truly want to liberate ourselves from this situation, we should change not just the surnames of those in power; the corruption, the incompetence, the lack of compassion must be replaced by competence and integrity in leadership," said Robredo in a Reuters report in October last year.

Personal and family background

Philippine Vice President Leni Robredo poses for a picture during her Inauguration ceremonies with her daughters Jessica Marie (L), Jillian Therese (2nd L) and Janine Patricia (R) at the Quezon City Reception House in Manila on June 30, 2016. / AFP / NOEL CELIS        (Photo credit should read NOEL CELIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Philippine Vice President Leni Robredo poses for a picture during her Inauguration ceremonies with her daughters Jessica Marie (L), Jillian Therese (2nd L) and Janine Patricia (R) at the Quezon City Reception House in Manila on June 30, 2016. Photo: NOEL CELIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Born in April 1965, Robredo is the eldest of three children born to a Naga City regional trial judge and an English professor. She studied law at the University of Nueva Caceres after graduating with a first degree in economics from the University of the Philippines Diliman in 1986. She passed her bar exams in 1997.

A former public attorney, the mother of three girls is the widow of former interior secretary Jesse Robredo, who in 2000 won the Ramon Magsaysay Award for government service, widely regarded as Asia's Nobel Prize.

Presidential candidates' profiles

Vice presidential candidates' profiles

READ: More 2022 Philippine elections stories here.

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