Pangilinan cites COVID-19 fight, Robredo's bid as reasons for candidacy

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 14) — Sen. Kiko Pangilinan's candidacy for vice president in the 2022 polls came as a surprise to the public, but what made him let go of his reelection bid and instead aim for the country's second highest post at the last minute?

"Hindi biro itong pinasok natin, hindi naman ito ang plano natin. Hindi tayo naghangad tumakbong bise presidente, ang plano talaga mag-file bilang senador noong Wednesday," Pangilinan told CNN Philippines' The Source on Thursday.

[Translation: We've entered into something serious, and this was not the plan. We did not intend to run for vice president and we really planned to run for senator on Wednesday.]

Pangilinan recounted that presidential aspirant Vice President Leni Robredo talked to him last Tuesday, October 5, and offered to run in tandem with her. Robredo announced her bid and filed her certificate of candidacy last Thursday, October 7, while Pangilinan filed his candidacy the day after.

Pangilinan is running under the Liberal Party in which he serves as president, while Robredo, the party chair, is running as an independent.

Pangilinan cited two reasons for his bid: Seeing the weight of the responsibility that comes with leading the country in the middle of a health crisis, and having Robredo on his side to share that "huge burden" after she declared her candidacy.

"Hindi biro na pasan natin yung hanapan ng solusyon ang daing ng ating mga kababayan (It is no joke to carry the weight of finding a solution to address the people's woes). It was overwhelming, the prospects of this huge burden that was on our shoulders ni (of) VP Leni and myself," he said.

"Pangalawa, siguro nagkaroon ng pag-asa. For the last year kinukumbinsi natin si Vice President na tumakbo, at one point ayaw talaga niya," he said. "Finally, she did reconsider. So parang hopeful na sa wakas nagdesisyon siya. Nagkaroon ng pag-asa...meron nang ilalaban ang aming hanay."

[Translation: Second, maybe because of hope. For the last year, we have been convincing the Vice President to run and at one point, she really did not want to. Finally she did reconsider, so I was hopeful after she made a decision. There was hope....that our group has a fighting chance.]

'No time for bickering'

Meanwhile, Pangilinan acknowledged presidential aspirant Manila Mayor Isko Moreno's recent remark that his issue with Robredo is now "water under the bridge," after previously calling her a "fake leader."

Pangilinan said there is "no time for bickering" as everyone should be focused on addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, the economic downturn, and the loss of livelihood of Filipinos, among other issues.

The vice presidential aspirant said that if he wins, he wishes to expand the interventions done under Robredo's term as Vice President, which includes assistance to frontliners, teleconsultations for COVID-19 patients, as well as solid contact tracing, testing, and isolation efforts.

He also wants to help uplift the lives of farmers and address food security, using his experience as former Presidential Assistant on Food Security and Agricultural Modernization.