By Chester Capua (Weekly GoodNews-Regional)

San Carlos City/Mangatarem – Vice President (VP) Leni Robredo visited the cities of San Carlos, Mangatarem and Lingayen in Pangasinan last March 21, 2019 to voluntarily endorse the eight (8) official candidates of Otso Diretso senatoriables under Liberal Party (LP).

Otso Diretso (Straight Eight), is a line-up of senatorial candidates composed of LP candidates. A multi-party electoral alliance that is known to be critical to the current administration. This alliance is composed of re-election senator, Sen. Bam Aquino, Mar Roxas, Atty. Pilo Hilbay, Atty. Chel Diokno, Atty. Romy Macalintal, Rep. Gary Alejano, Erin Tañada and the only female among the gentlemen, Samira Gutoc.

VP Robredo has been vocal of her support to the Otso Diretso candidates even before the campaign period for the national candidates started. We watched her and heard her in the news promoting the accomplishments of these candidates and why they should be elected. During her visit, she cannot help but give praises to these amazing people and how she managed to convince them despite some issues that have been brewing against the Administration’s Hugpong- their party counterpart and co-candidates for the senatorial bid.

In her visits, she was all-praises to Tañada, son and grandson of the late congressmen Tañadas is known to have a great reputation in politics. Erin Tañada who accomplished his three (3) terms in the Congress, became a deputy speaker and majority floor leader, he remained simple despite his success and no corruption record. Robredo also narrated that she worked with Gary Alejano in the 16th Congress, during the time when she was a Congresswoman. She remembered Alejano as one of the members of Magdalo. But when she met him at the Congress, she witnessed his kindness and generosity. Alejano is one of the members of the Philippine marines that fought with rebels in Mindanao, later on, sentenced to seven (7) years in prison because of exposing the corruption in the administration of the former president, Gloria Arroyo. After which, he dedicated his life to public service when he got his freedom.

Mar Roxas was Robredo’s partner in the last 2016 election that ran for the presidential bid. Robredo narrated how Roxas turned her down, but because of his dedication to serving the public, Robredo convinced him to run again. Bam Aquino was Robredo’s campaign manager last 2016 election. The moment Robredo met the real Bam Aquino aside from his family name, she was amazed at his outstanding performances at a young age. Known for his “Free College Education Bill”, Filipino college students can now avail themselves of the free tuition fee in state universities.

Some of the candidates of Otso Diretso are neophytes in politics. Four (4) of them are new candidates. Robredo tried convincing them because she knew that despite no political backgrounds, these 4 candidates have been helping the Filipinos in their own way. Romy Macalintal, a famous election lawyer. Unknown to many, his advocacy is helping senior citizens. He toppled big establishments and filed charges against them for not following the Seniors Citizen Law. Pilo Hilbay came from a poor family. He finished his studies because of scholarships. Despite his record as a bar topnotcher, he worked in the government amidst the offers of big law firms in the Philippines. He worked as a Solicitor General and currently teaching at the University of the Philippines (UP). Hilbay is known for defending our case in the Netherlands against China in the West Philippine Sea dispute. Chel Diokno, the son of Pepe Diokno- an outstanding lawyer, former DOJ secretary, and a former senator. Robredo narrated how she idolizes Chel Diokno even before her husband was a mayor. Diokno was the lawyer of all the poor Filipinos in her province. He helped in the cases of Tokhang victims, the victims of the submergence of a passenger ship where a high death toll was reported, and the farmers that were not equally distributed with land titles.

The last of the list is Samira Gutoc, the only woman in Otso Diretso. Unknown to many, Gutoc was appointed in the Bangsamoro Commission. Robredo narrated how Gutoc resigned from her post when she no longer believed in the administration. Despite her resignation, she continued her advocacy for her fellow Muslims, for the bakwit, and for Filipinos who lost their homes in Marawi.

“Pinapakilala ko rin ang kandidato namin pero ayoko sabihin na botohan nyo sila dahil sila ‘yung kandidato ko. ‘Yung ginawa ko lang pinakilala ko, pero ang pakiusap ko parang napaka-cliche na ‘yung Vote Wisely. Pero parang utang na loob, ‘wag natin sayangin iyong pagkakataon na ‘to. ‘Yun lang ‘yung pakiusap ko. (I am also introducing my candidates, but I don’t mean that you vote for them just because they are my candidates. What I am trying to accomplish is to introduce them, but I am humbly asking, although Vote Wisely seemed so cliched. But just like out of gratitude, don’t lose this oppprtunity. That’s all I’m asking),” Robredo told the students and faculties of Virgen Milagrosa University (VMU).

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