Leni Robredo, the reluctant candidate

Posted at 10/05/12 9:43 PM

MANILA, Philippines – When Atty. Maria Leonor "Leni" Robredo, the widow of the late DILG Sec. Jesse Robredo, filed her certificate of candidacy (COC) to run as Camarines Sur’s 3rd district, she made it clear that she initially had no intention of seeking a government post.

Robredo, who is also the Liberal Party (LP) chairman of Camarines Sur, said her decision to run was influenced by a looming rift between members of the LP in Bicol after two of its members expressed plans to run for the same post.

To unite the party, Mrs. Robredo decided to run, making her a “reluctant candidate” in the upcoming 2013 elections.

But her eldest daughter, Jessica Marie or “Aika”, believes that her mom’s reluctance does not give her opponent, Nelly Villafuerte, any advantage.

“I have always had respect for people who never really aspired for power, I think power should be given to those who want it least,” she told ANC’s Prime Time on Friday.

She added that she trusts her mom’s decision to seek office despite her unwillingness to do so.

“That’s what I’ve been telling other people, I believe her heart is in the right place, so when she does something like this, it would be very believable that her intentions are sincere,” she said.

Now that Mrs. Robredo is officially a congressional candidate, Aika said she and her siblings will give their all-out support in her campaign.

She also said that while the “burden” placed on her mother was too much for her to say no to, she now has the opportunity to “put a stop to political dynasties.”

“The people in Naga were saying that this is the one chance wherein she could actually change something. When people put it that way, it would be very hard for her to say no, so I guess it is something me and my sisters would have to understand, and while we do not want her to run, she knows that we support her all the way,” said Aika.

Breaking the news

Aika said she and her two sisters received a call from their mother at around 11 a.m. on Friday, informing them that she has “no choice” but to run.

Mrs. Robredo first called her younger sister Patricia, who tried to convince their mom to reconsider.

“She called us up around 11 a.m. She told Trish na mukhang wala tayong choice. For us, it is something we don’t want her to do mainly because we know she doesn’t want to do it,” Aika said.

Aika said her mom explained to them that the people who were asking her to run are the same people that had helped their late father for 19 years in Naga.

“When my dad ran for office, there is a group campaigning for him and now that my dad is not here anymore, I don’t think my mom could say no to them. It is this one time she could maybe repay the people who were helping us out for so long,” she said.

Robredo’s youngest daughter, 12-year-old Jillian, was the last to be informed of her decision.

Aika said Jillian went hysterical upon hearing the news, thinking that their mother will be separated from them if ever she becomes a Camarines Sur congresswoman.

“She was a bit hysterical at first but she has calmed down. I think she wanted all of us to be in Manila, she didn’t understand that being part of the Congress, my mom would actually work here. Once my mom was able to explain to her, she was OK," said Aika.

Aika said they have yet to discuss the campaign strategy, but stressed that she and her siblings will help out in any way they can.