VICE-PRESIDENT Maria Leonor “Leni” G. Robredo on Tuesday got endorsed by another political group that was formed in 2021 to push the presidential bid of Manila City’s mayor.
Former Metro Manila Development Authority chief Thomas “Tim” M. Orbos told a news briefing Ikaw Muna (IM) Pilipinas had withdrawn its support for Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko” M. Domagoso, who he said does not stand a chance of winning in the May election.
Some group members said they would use their resources to boost the vice-president’s presidential bid and prevent the return to the presidential office of the family of the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos.
The strongman’s only son and namesake, Bongbong, is leading in most presidential opinion polls. Ms. Robredo is a distant second though her ratings have gone up.
“The Vice President has consistently been in second place in the past months and has been on a steady rise with the biggest increase as shown in the latest survey,” Mr. Orbos said. “She is now in the best position to win this for us.”
He said he did not have a grudge against Mr. Domagoso. “In a different time, in a different place, he could have been a good leader. The future is open for him.”
“Let’s give it to someone who has a chance,” said Mr. Orbos, who coordinated the volunteer movement for Mr. Domagoso’s presidential ambition.
He also asked other candidates to throw their support behind Ms. Robredo to prevent another Marcos presidency.
IM Pilipinas, which changed its name to IM Leni, had been campaigning for Mr. Domagoso, a former matinee idol whose rags to riches story has captivated some Filipinos.
“I wish them all the best,” the mayor said in a video posted on Facebook. “This separates the men from the boys.”
Before the press briefing, the group’s chapters in central and southern Philippines announced their support for Ms. Robredo.
Meanwhile, One Cebu Party, an influential political group in central Philippines, endorsed Mr. Marcos for president.
The group is led by the family of Cebu Governor Gwendolyn F. Garcia, whose brother Pablo resigned as party secretary-general to continue supporting Mr. Domagoso.
“I respect One Cebu and its decision, just as I hope that the party I helped found, and have only the deepest affection for, would respect my choice and direction,” Mr. Garcia said in a statement.
At the weekend, a key official of Aksyon Demokratiko, Mr. Domagoso’s political party, left his post to endorse Ms. Robredo for president.
Ms. Robredo’s office welcomed the endorsement of IM, saying it expects more groups to back her candidacy.
“We trust that in the remaining 27 days, even more will join the people’s campaign, united by their dreams and hopes for a better Philippines,” her spokesman Ibarra M. Gutierrez III said in a statement.
Ms. Robredo on Tuesday visited La Union province, where she lost by more than 318,000 votes to Mr. Marcos in the 2016 vice-presidential race.
La Union is considered part of the regional bloc in northern Philippines known for supporting the family of the late dictator.
On Saturday, she drew more than 200,000 supporters — the biggest crowd in her presidential campaign so far — at a rally in Pampanga province north of the Philippines.
The opposition candidate urged her supporters in the province — the bailiwick of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who has endorsed Marcos, Jr. — to step up their house-to-house initiatives to convince more undecided voters to vote for her.
Mr. Marcos kept his lead in Pulse Asia Research, Inc.’s presidential opinion poll last month, with 56% of Filipinos likely to vote for him. His rating fell by 4 percentage points.
Still in second place was Mr. Robredo, whose rating rose by nine points to 24%.
Pulse Asia conducted the poll on March 17-21, after the first official presidential debate that Mr. Marcos failed to join. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza