(UPDATE) Vice President Leni Robredo on Thursday declared her candidacy for president, likening the difficult road ahead to the plight of mothers who will do anything for their children.
The 56-year-old, who will face off against the only son namesake of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, said she was prepared to fight. On social media, supporters added pink ribbons to rally behind the reluctant politician.
"Buong-buo ang loob ko ngayon. Kailangan natin palayain ang sarili mula sa kasalukuyang sitwasyon. Lalaban ako. Lalaban tayo. Inihahain ko ang aking sarili bilang kandidato sa pagkapangulo sa halalan ng 2022," she said.
"Nanay ako hindi lang ng tatlong anak ko, kundi ng buong bansa. At alam ng lahat ng ibang nanay, ng lahat ng ibang magulang, kung ano ang kaya nilang pagdaanan at isakripisyo sa ngalan ng kanilang mga anak," she said.
Robredo beat Marcos for the vice presidency in 2016, matching his money and political machinery with grassroots support. Her other rivals include Manila Mayor Isko Moreno and Senators Manny Pacquiao and Panfilo Lacson.
Without naming Moreno, Lacson and Pacquiao, whom she had talked to for possible unity, Robredo said she decided on her political plans without considering her pride.
The Vice President said it was a difficult decision and she was offered to join various political groups. In her six years in office, Robredo has been on the receiving end of fake news and criticism from pro-administration groups.
However, during the pandemic, she used the same grassroots network to provide pandemic aid to millions of Filipinos from vaccines, coronavirus testing and free rides for medical frontliners.
"Panata ko ngayon: Ibubuhos ko nang buong-buo ang aking lakas, hindi lang hanggang sa halalan kundi hanggang sa mga natitirang araw ko, para ipaglaban ang Pilipinas ng ating mga pangarap," said Robredo.
Robredo's 2016 victory by one of the slimmest margins in Philippine election history capped the Marcos family's renaissance at that time. With a campaign promise that "the last man standing is a woman", then congresswoman Robredo harnessed grassroots support to beat the well-funded machinery of the late dictator's son.