Prospects grow dimmer for Leni Robredo as coalition-building amongst alternative opposition bypass her camp

While the public was engrossed with the ongoing feud between President Rodrigo Duterte and Sen. Dick Gordon, the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee Chair, who is investigating the questionable purchases of personal protective equipment (PPEs) and face masks by the Department of Budget Management (DBM) Procurement Service for the Department of Health (DOH), the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) – Reporma alliance scored a major win with the addition of former Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary and National Unity Party (NUP) Chair Ronnie Puno to be their campaign manager for the 2022 election.

Puno managed the 1992 campaign of then candidate Fidel V. Ramos who scored a major upset over Danding Cojuangco of the NPC, Ramon Mitra of the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP) and the surprise voters’ choice Miriam Defensor-Santiago. Puno also managed the campaign of President Joseph Estrada in 1998 and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2004. He was instrumental in the formation of the NUP which broke away from the Lakas–Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas-CMD) in 2011. The NUP earlier declared that it would renew its alliance with the Sara Duterte led Hugpong ng Pagbabago for the 2022 election. However, with the recent statement of the Davao City Mayor that she’s not running for any national post, it would appear now that NUP is supporting the candidacies of Sen. Ping Lacson and Senate President Tito Sotto.

In another material development on the political front, Reporma President Congressman Pantaleon Alvarez met with the Acting President of the Koko Pimentel wing of PDP-Laban, Sen. Manny Pacquiao to talk about a possible alliance for the 2022 polls. Alvarez was the former Secretary-General of PDP-Laban who resigned in September 2020 to join Reporma in his bid to find a suitable Presidential candidate for 2022 to succeed Rodrigo Duterte. That candidate now is Sen. Ping Lacson. The NPC-Reporma’s coalition-building efforts have been paying off handsomely as they have been welcoming new members into the party’s fold. Politics is addition as former Senate President Amang Rodriguez famously said. The addition of the NUP and PDP-Laban to the coalition makes it the most formidable challenger against the administration which is yet to decide on its Presidential bet.

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Now that the Presidential daughter has begged off, there are reports that former Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr would be the running mate of the President. However, the President has not mentioned or even hinted at such a tandem. It remains to be seen if the President will adopt some Senatorial candidates of NPC-Reporma who he mentioned he would be supporting such as DICT Secretary Gregorio Honasan and Antique Rep. Loren Legarda who are both slated to run under the NPC-Reporma banner as announced by NPC Chair Senate President Tito Sotto.

The prospects are growing dimmer for the opposition led by Vice-President Leni Robredo who also announced that she was in talks with Manila Mayor Isko Moreno and Sen. Manny Pacquiao. Pacquiao has announced that he would consider a Senate or Presidential run or retire from politics altogether. As it is, the PDP-Laban itself hasn’t resolved the internal conflict between the Pimentel and Al Cusi Wings of the party. For the moment, Lacson-Sotto is the tandem that’s gaining ground over its rivals and poses the most serious and credible challenge to the administration in 2022.

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