By Joseph Bernard A. Marzan
Even after losing the 2022 presidential elections her erstwhile rival, former Vice President Leni Robredo still received a rockstar treatment from Ilonggo supporters, whom she touched base with again on Friday.
Robredo with her supporters at the University of the Philippines Visayas (UPV) Auditorium in Iloilo City, on the sidelines of her guest appearance at the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Iloilo Chapter’s 50th-anniversary celebration.
Like her campaign and other appearances, supporters flocked with their cameras and mobile phones, hoping to snap photos and video clips of the former second-highest official of the land.
In her message, Robredo touched on the continuing crux of her presidential campaign, which was the energy of the volunteers who had actively hopped from neighborhood to neighborhood, including in Iloilo.
She cited the testimonies during the event by supporters who were active campaigners in all legislative districts of the city and province.
“No efforts were wasted even if the  elections had that result because those who shared [their experiences] themselves that many were involved with the campaigns for the first time,” Robredo said.
“Some of them spoke [in public] for the first time and were nervous. If that’s the case, the tiredness was worth it, because during elections, what happens is that those who were active in previous elections are still the ones who work, right? […] But the 2022 elections is a bit different, in the sense that those who have been moving are still there but this time they are not alone. Those who were apolitical, who haven’t voted in their lives, and didn’t care before, now cared about the 2022 [elections],” she added.
Iloilo province 3rd district Board Member and Liberal Party stalwart Jason Gonzales said the shared values that brought the supporters together in the 2022 polls remained the driving force for them to come together when the chance arises.
“It’s important for us to reflect not just on what defines us but more importantly what brings us together. We understand the sentiment that our crowds [remain] not being ‘hakot’. But in saying that, we are also saying that part of what brings our community together is our shared values and our shared principles. We cannot wield that as a weapon, we cannot use that as something to put others down,” Gonzales said.
The city and province of Iloilo were some of the bailiwicks of the Robredo camp in the 2022 polls, where she garnered a combined total of 728,781 or 54.8 percent of the total local votes cast for the said position.
She led now President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. by over 250,000 votes here, a repeat but a closer margin compared to their 2016 battle for the vice presidency.
Marcos Jr. cited Iloilo as one of the pilot areas in the recount effort he staged, but the Supreme Court, as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, junked the petition.
Since losing to Marcos Jr., the lawyer converted her former office’s flagship social program Angat Buhay into a nonprofit organization that works in aspects of public education, public health, disaster relief and rehabilitation, and community engagement and empowerment, among others.