By Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza, Reporter 

THE GOVERNOR of vote-rich Bulacan on Monday endorsed the presidential run of Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” G. Robredo. 

Bulacan Governor Daniel R. Fernando announced the endorsement two days after the camp of former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. dismissed a statement that the opposition leader had secured the local official’s support. 

Bulacan has the fifth highest number of voters among 81 provinces in the country. Ms. Robredo lost to Mr. Marcos in the province north of Manila in the 2016 vice-presidential race. 

Also on Monday, administration ally Eastern Samar Governor Ben P. Evardone endorsed Ms. Robredo’s presidential bid.  

Mr. Evardone said President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s recent remarks on the traits his successor should have was “a virtual endorsement” of Ms. Robredo. 

Mr. Duterte at the weekend said the next president should be a lawyer who is compassionate and decisive. 

“We welcome and support the high bar President Duterte has set for his successor. He knows whereof he speaks, and we understand it,” Mr. Evardone said in a statement.  

“For me and for millions of Filipinos, there is only one decisive and compassionate lawyer among those aspiring to be President and she is VP Leni,” he said. 

Meanwhile, the government’s anti-communist task force accused Ms. Robredo of colluding with the country’s Maoist movement. 

The task force, which has been known for tagging civic leaders critical of the Duterte administration as communists, said Maoist operatives were present in Ms. Robredo’s most recent campaign rally in vote-rich Cavite, which drew thousands of supporters. 

Ms. Robredo’s office earlier revealed that there were text messages quoting her praising Jose Maria Sison, the founder of the 53-year-old Communist Party of the Philippines. 

In a statement, Ms. Robredo said the propaganda linking her to the communist movement is a ploy to stop the “momentum” of her people-centered campaign.  

She reiterated that she does not believe in violence as a solution to socio-economic problems. 

The opposition figure said all her colleagues are aware of her stand against armed violence, including those in the security sector who she said appeared to also be the target of the propaganda.