DAVAO CITY – Two public interest lawyers from the bailiwick of the administration have expressed support for Vice President Leni Robredo to run for the presidency as the filing for the 2022 national election coming in a few weeks.
Lawyers Arvin Dexter Lopoz and Romeo Cabarde, Jr have joined the Lawyers for Leni Movement and posted in their social media accounts in late August explaining why Robredo is the president the country needs in 2022.
Robredo has yet to make a pronouncement on her political future as political groups critical to the Duterte administration has urged her to be the opposition standard bearer.
Cabarde said supporting Robredo is a risk considering he comes from Davao, which is perceived to be in full support for Mayor Sara Duterte if she changes tact to run for national office.
“It may be a risk to express publicly this support, especially for a Davaoeño like me. This act is akin to a political harakiri … However, I make decisions not based on where I live, but based on what my conscience dictates,” Cabarde said on his Facebook post.
Cabarde is vice-chairperson of Amnesty International Philippines, board chairperson of Luna Legal Resource for Women and Children, and is former chair of the Ateneo de Davao University Community Engagement and Advocacy Council.
In his two minute video, Cabarde said that while Davawenyos may have seen changes brought by the Duterte administration, he believes “the Filipinos deserve a better Philippines. We deserve the best.”
Cabarde explained, “I dream of a society that cultivates a global culture of human rights, where life is valued with dignity and the culture of death dismissed, where dissent is responded with better service rather than silenced, where the rule of law prevails and not the wrath of a demagogue, where the language of politics does not make lies sound truthful, corruption excusable, killing acceptable and everything wrong normalized. Rather, I want a country that speaks of truth even if it may be unpopular and where eventually this truth is lived meaningfully.”
This message takes aim on the issues against Duterte, his misogyny, his government’s war on drugs and attacks on Lumad schools that have victimized children, red-tagging of activists and critics, the revival of open-pit mining at the expense of protection of whatever is remaining of Mindanao’s forests.
Cabarde said he wants a government where “women are not objectified, subordinated or marginalized. Where children are not abused, trafficked, violated but protected. The indigenous peoples are not dispossessed from their ancestral domain, but revered for their cultural heritage. Where the Bangsamoro are not treated as others but as brothers and sisters. The environment is not plundered but defended as one and only common hope.”
He noted Robredo’s track record as a public interest lawyer before entering politics will make this kind of government possible.
“Subay sa akong konsyensya isip Dabawenyo, ang kalambuan sa nasod, naa sa liderato ni VP Leni Robredo. (From my conscience as a Dabaweyo, the nation’s progress lies in the leadership of VP Leni Robredo),” Cabarde said.
Lopoz, spokesperson of Union of Peoples’ Lawyers in Mindanao, also agrees that Robredo’s experience as an alternative lawyer and a non-traditional politician (trapo) gives her an edge she has among other presidentiables.
Robredo was a member of Sentro ng Alternatibong Lingap Pang Legal (Saligan), a group offering legal support to marginalized sectors.
“I say this for certain because every time she will be faced with a dilemma in decision-making, all she has to ask is ‘will this be for the benefit of the marginalized? For example, in obstinately pursuing the hundreds of millions for dolomitein the face of a pandemic, she can always answer that the needs of the hungry masses, the unemployed and the frontliners come FIRST before such wasteful Dolomite Beach.” Lopoz said.
Lopoz also points out that unlike other presidential contenders, Robredo does not come from political dynasts that inherited political power from their parents.
Robredo won as Representative of Camarines Sur third district in 2013, after a groundswell of supporting following the death of her husband, Jesse Robredo, the former Secretary of Interior and Local Government and mayor of Naga.
“It is an advantage because she can genuinely connect with the grassroots. VP Leni, without a trapo image and background, has no bureaucrat capitalism baggage,” Lopoz noted.
Lopoz said choosing Robredo “wasn’t a difficult decision to make. The effects of the Pandemic: massive unemployment, widespread hunger, and overwhelmed medical workers all call for a leader who is both innovative and responsive to the needs of the people. Since the lockdowns in March 2020, only VP Leni and the (Office of the Vice President) had been consistent in addressing these three major problems brought about by the pandemic.”
He urges Davao people that “it is high time to leave the blindness of regionalism and tribalism”.
Lopoz said their group Lawyers for Leni intend to lead volunteers for the election, go back to communities to organize and campaign, and even run for local posts.
Lopoz has served as board member of Davao de Oro.