The support that Vice President Leni Robredo got nationwide must have surprised her rivals in the 2022 presidential elections. She was described early on using the Tagalog word “kulelat” for lagging behind in presidential surveys. But after she announced her joining the presidential race as an independent using the color pink for the campaign, that color dominated social media for a time and motorcades joined by hundreds of vehicles were organized in many provinces. The campaign period has not even started.

Noynoy Aquino and Rodrigo Duterte got the same support during their presidential runs in 2010 and 2016. This therefore rattled the other presidential wannabes notably those ranking high in surveys. Isko Moreno was the first to taint Robredo’s candidacy, followed by, to a certain extent, Panfilo Lacson. Their inner circle began downplaying Robredo’s popular support.

The truth is, Robredo’s support has a basis. Wasn’t her win in 2016 a national election? Meaning that she already has a national following before Moreno even thought that he could gain national support even “only” as Manila mayor. Robredo’s support nationwide has largely remained intact despite the effort of the trolls of President Duterte to malign her. She was able to show she can be creative in working with a meager budget and getting private funding.

Among the current bets, Robredo is surely the most qualified both intellectually and character wise. Lacson and Marcos Jr. are also intellectuals but are flawed character wise. Moreno and boxing legend Manny Pacquiao? I say they are not presidentiables in the strictest sense, although strangely some voters have a penchant for voting candidates like them.

The next task for Team Robredo is to harness Robredo’s nationwide support. Team Robredo is no stranger to this because a similar setup happened in Noynoy Aquino’s run in 2010. With Bam Aquino as campaign manager, Robredo’s campaign is in capable hands. What Robredo lacks is support from local government officials. But that would only be icing on the cake. Local government officials can only influence the voters so much. Remember how Gibo Teodoro lost in Cebu despite the support by local government officials in the province?

Expect the attacks against Robredo to intensify during the election period. This once again tests social media’s resolve to straighten its act. Facebook and the other platforms need to be vigilant against fake news, hate speech and libelous attacks. But this is no longer 2016. People are more conscious now of those things and are more discerning.

As for a possible Marcos Jr. win, I don’t spend time worrying about that. I just put my faith in the majority of voters who are capable of making the right choices. As long as Marcos Jr. is pitted against a legitimate anti-Marcos candidate, he doesn’t usually win. A big chunk of voters have not forgotten their deeds despite the historical revisionism being spread around.