MANILA (Mabuhay) — Five vice presidential aspirants have ties with the Bicol Region, but Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo believes she’s the only one who could boast of having stayed in the region for nearly her entire life.
Robredo, who’s the running mate of Mar Roxas under the Liberal Party banner, mentioned the length of her stay in Bicol as one of her advantages over other Bicolano vice presidential candidates at a press conference Tuesday.
“Kung ibebenta ko ang sarili ko sa mga Bicolano, of the five of us, ako lang ang pinanganak doon, ako lang ang purong Bicolano. Ako lang ‘yung lumaki doon. Ako ‘yung nag-aral doon. Ako lang ‘yung after college, bumalik doon. Ako ‘yung nagtrabaho doon and raised a family there. [I] spent all my life except my four years in college doon (Bicol),” she said.
“Lahat yata, walang ibang ipinanganak doon. Lahat umuwi lang sa Bicol noong kakandidato na,” Robredo added.
Senators Francis Escudero and Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan II trace their roots in Sorsogon, while Senator Antonio Trillanes IV is a native of Albay.
Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, meanwhile, is considered a Bicolano by affinity through his marriage to Taguig Mayor Lani Cayetano, who is from Tiwi, Albay.
Another vice presidential aspirant, Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., does not have ties with the vote-rich Bicol region.
At the press conference, Robredo said she believes the length of her stay in Bicol spells a “big difference” because she has come to develop a deeper understanding of Bicolanos’ concerns.
“Malaking difference ‘yun (length of stay) in the sense na kung mayroong may malalim na pag-intindi ng pinagdadaanan ng karaniwang Bicolano, palagay ko ako ‘yun,” she said.
Aside from being the only vice presidential candidate to have settled in Bicol, Robredo believes she also has the advantage of being the lone aspirant who has extensive experience working with the people at the grassroots level.
“Yung aking matagal na experience working at the grassroots level and with marginalized sectors, palagay ko ‘yun yung nagbibigay sa akin ng understanding ng ano ang pinagdadaanang kahirapan ng karaniwang Pilipino. Yung karanasan na ‘yun, I don’t think is there sa kahit sinong ibang kandidato. Ako lang yata yung may ganoong karanasan,” she said.
Prior to entering politics, Robredo worked as a lawyer for the Sentro ng Alternatibong Lingap Pang Legal (Saligan), a non-government organization dedicated to empowering members of marginalized sectors. For a decade, she did pro-bono legal work for clients which include farmers, urban poor, and indigenous peoples.
Based on the Commission on Elections’ latest data, the Bicol Region (Region 5) has 3.01 million registered voters, including those without or with incomplete biometrics data.
The region has almost consistently ranked fifth nationwide in registered voters and number of voters who actually cast their votes.
In the 2013 elections, 2.49 million of the 3.04 million of its registered voters actually cast their votes. (MNS)