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    Dialogue with Vice President Leni Robredo Women Lawyers for Leni

    Dialogue with Vice President Leni Robredo
    Women Lawyers for Leni


    [START 00:00]

    VP LENI: Hello sa lahat ng bumubuo ng Women Lawyers for Leni. Maraming salamat sa inyong suporta, hindi lang para sa 'kin pero para sa lahat ng ginagawa natin sa Office of the Vice President. Thank you for carving out this space kung saan may lunsaran tayo para mas maisulong pa ang kapakanan at karapatan ng ating kababaihan sa batas. Ang task sa ’tin ngayon, palawakin pa ang saklaw ng ating pinahahalagahan. Ang makipagkapit-bisig sa mas marami pa, kahit ‘yung mga hindi natin kaalyado, lalo na ‘yung mga hindi natin madalas na nakakasama. Malaki ang hamong kinakaharap natin kaya kailangan natin magsama-sama at humugot ng lakas sa isa’t-isa. There is no way through any crisis but together. As we come together today, sana ay makahanap pa kayo ng malikhaing paraan to engage our communities and reach the last, the least, and the lost of our sisters. Patuloy sana ninyong pagtibayin at palakasin ang inyong hanay at sana maging biyaya pa kayo sa mas marami pang Pilipino sa inyong paglilingkod. Maraming salamat, mabuhay kayong lahat.

    [PAUSE 01:06 to 01:27]

    FINA TANTUICO: Umpisa na tayo?

    JANET REGALADO: Yup!

    FINA TANTUICO: Okay. Good morning, pañeras! A pleasant pink and exciting Sunday morning to everyone. My name is Fina Tantuico and with my co-host Janet Regalado, we welcome you all to our dialogue with VP Leni. Janet?

    JANET REGALADO: Yes, Tina, I’m so excited to be with you here this morning. Magandang umaga po sa lahat ng kasapi natin dito sa Zoom meeting at sa lahat ng nanunuod sa atin via FB livestream. Hello and welcome! Welcome to this very special dialogue with no less than our VP Leni.

    FINA TANTUICO: Umpisahan na natin ang programa, Pañerang Janet. To formally welcome everyone to this gathering, may we call on the lead convenor of WL4L. She’s a graduate of UP Law Class ‘91, an active private practitioner whose expertise in intellectual property law has won her firm numerous awards. Our convenor is also a part-time faculty member of the UP Law and has been described as a progressive thinker since her student days. And to this day, she continues to raise awareness of political issues through organizing. A devoted wife and mother, I refer to no other than Atty. Susan D. Villanueva.

    SUSAN VILLANUEVA: Maraming salamat, Tina. Maraming salamat, Janet. Magandang, magandang umaga po sa ating lahat. Nagagalak ang Women Lawyers for Leni sa pagtitipon natin ngayon dahil kasama po natin ang ating kandidato para sa pagka-Pangulo ng Republika ng Pilipinas. Ang walang iba po kundi ang pinaka husay, pinaka tibay, pinaka masipag na lider na tunay na lingkod bayan, si VP Leni Robredo. Nagsimula po ang Women Lawyers for Leni noong August 2021. Naalala niyo pa ho ba nagsasama ho tayo, sumulat tayo ng liham para sa Bise Presidente para ikumbinsihin siya na tumakbo bilang Pangulo. Noong panahon na ‘yun, malaki ‘yung ligalig natin tungkol sa ating bayan. Gusto natin ng bagong Pilipinas. Gusto natin ng pag-asa ng bagong umaga. Kaya tayo, mga abogado, mga kasamahan mga kababaihan sa batas, nagsama-sama tayo at sumulat tayo ng love letter kay Vice President Leni Robredo. At sa ating sulat, sinabi natin kay VP Leni, “Kayo po ang lider na kailangan ng ating panahon. Kayo po ang pag-asa para sa ating bayan.” So pinadala natin ‘yung sulat sa kanya, at alam natin lahat tayo pumirma tayo sa sulat na ‘yun, alam natin hindi madaling desisyon ‘yan para sa Vice President. Si Vice President Leni po ay kakaibang lingkod bayan, tunay na lingkod na bayan. ‘Yung– hindi po gaya ng iba na tumatakbo para sa pansariling interes or para sa interes ng pamilya, si Vice President Leni po ‘yung track record niya nagpapakita, nagpapatunay na siya talaga ang may puso para sa Pilipino.

    Tumatakbo siya para matulungan ang Pilipino para maiangat ang lahat, hindi para sa sarili o sa kanyang pamilya. Makikita mo ‘yan sa kanyang buhay, sa kanyang pagsisilbi, siya ang pinaka masi– masipag na Vice President sa kasaysayan ng Pilipinas.

    [05:03]

    Hindi lang ho siya isang spare tire, naghihintay na maging Pangulo, kundi napakita niya kung paano niya na-transform ‘yung Office of the Vice President sa isang napaka magaling, epektibo na opisina na nadyan kasama natin sa lahat ng sakuna, sa lahat ng mga challenges at hamon, kasama po natin si Vice President Leni. Lagi po siyang nangunguna para sa pagsilbi ng bayan. So lahat ho tayo pumirma at lahat tayo talaga umasa na tatanggapin niya ang hamon kahit mahirap ito na desisyon para sa kanya. Ito ay isang sakripisyo mula sa kanya at sa kanyang pamilya. Kaya kasama ng mga milyun-milyong Pilipino lahat tayo natuwa, naalala niyo ‘yung araw na tinanggap ni VP Leni ‘yung hamon? Naalala niyo ‘yung– ‘yung pakiramdam, ‘yung– kahit ako naalala ko ngayon, talagang galak na galak ako at tuwang-tuwa ako kasi ito na, ito na ‘yung pag-asa. Simula na ito ng bagong Pilipinas. Simula na ito ng bagong uma– umaga para sa buong Pilipinas. Mababawi natin ang ating bayan.

    Kaya po tayo, nagsasama-sama ngayon, kasama po natin ang ating Pangulo. Ang susunod na Pangulo ng Republika ng Pilipinas, walang iba kundi si VP Leni Robredo. So ‘yung pagtitipon natin ngayon is actually po, isipin niyo, it’s an answered prayer, kasi noong August 2021 sumulat po tayo, humihingi ho tayo na samahan tayo ni VP Leni Robredo, samahan niya tayo, maging lider natin siya para matatag natin ang isang bagong umaga para sa bagong Pilipinas at ‘yung ating dasal, nasagot na. Tinanggap niya yung hamon. Kandidato na natin siya bilang Pangulo ng Republika ng Pilipinas. So dapat ho ngayon, sama-sama tayo, magtulungan po tayo para ‘yung kabuuan ng ating dasal, isang bagong Pilipinas na may tapat na gobyerno na may malasakit sa tao at ang isang gobyerno na aangat ang buhay ng lahat. So maraming, maraming salamat sa lahat ng mga kasapi na dumalo. Maraming maraming salamat din kay Vice President Leni, I’m sure napaka– dami-dami niyang ginagawa, very busy siya pero binigyan niya tayo ng pagkakataon para magkaroon ng dialogue today. At sana ang ating– ang– and this is– ang hope ko ‘yung– sana this dialogue will inspire all of us to keep on pushing to continue what we’re doing and to continue to work hard and campaign for her so that we will have her as our next President and then we will have a new beginning for the Philippines. Maraming salamat po.

    FINA TANTUICO: Thank you, Susan for that moving and inspiring welcome. Janet?

    JANET REGALADO: Okay, can you hear me? Can you hear me?

    TINA TANTUICO: Yes.

    JANET REGALADO: So thank you– thank you, Susan, for that moving and inspiring welcome. And now we actually move to introduce our special guest and celebrity pañera who also happens to be the very driven and hardworking President of Celebrity Sports Club. Akmang-akma di ba? So proud to say that she’s a leader in her own right because she’s also the President of the UP Law Class 1985, the Kilusang Kontra COVID, and the UP Concert Chorus Alumni Association. She also teaches Law at the New Era University College of Law, a TV host of a public service show, to founder and chairman emeritus of the Association of Congressional Chiefs of Staff, and a writer for the Philippine Star. Friends, let us all welcome Atty. Dot Balasbas Gancayco.

    DOT GANCAYCO: Okay, can you hear me now? Yes?

    FINA TANTUICO: Yes, Dot.

    DOT GANCAYCO: Okay. Before I do my Introduction, let me first thank the organizers of this Zoom event with special mention to, of course, Atty. Susan Villanueva, Mina Francisco, Martin Esguerra, Daryll, our hosts Atty. Janet Regalado and Atty. Fina Tantuico and most of all, Dean Deng Cordero who reminded me several times to limit my introduction to 4 minutes.

    [10:14]

    Also, before I start, allow me please to congratulate first our Guest of Honor for her outstanding performance during her interview by Jessica Soho. Galing! VP Leni, you were hands down the winner and you made us all immensely proud.

    Maria Leonor “Leni” Gerona Robredo, an alternative lawyer and public servant, is the 14th Vice President of the Republic of the Philippines.

    Determined to bring the Office of the Vice President closer to the people, VP Leni led its transformation into an advocacy-heavy organization, inspired by her years of experience as a lawyer for the poor and the marginalized. The OVP’s flagship anti-poverty program, Angat Buhay, started by addressing the needs in six advocacy areas—food security and nutrition, women empowerment, education, healthcare, rural development, and housing—and has since grown to disaster response and empowerment of key sectors.

    As the country grapples with the coronavirus pandemic, VP Leni has led the OVP in its comprehensive COVID-19 response operations, which supports frontliners and communities through various interventions from PPE supplies, free shuttle services, relief aid, livelihood opportunities, and testing and teleconsultation services, among others.

    Believing in the power of collaboration, and a faith in the people, VP Leni vows to keep working to help her fellow Filipinos, especially those in the fringes of society.

    And because I have very little time left, let me make a quick enumeration of some interesting things about VP Leni that I want to share with you.

    One, VP Leni was quiet & disciplined even as a child. Hindi po siya spoiled. Her Mom, who was an English professor, would bring her to her classes and she would quietly sit at the back of the room and just copy what’s written on the blackboard.

    Two, VP Leni has been an avid reader since she was young. She obsessed over the Nancy Drew series like a lot of us and had a collection of children’s books. As she grew older, VP Leni’s love affair with books continued and she now has an extensive collection of books at home. She especially enjoys reading biographies and novels.

    Three, in high school, this is very interesting, she was described as “charming, reserved and demure” but she was also known as the “Crush ng Bayan”.

    Four, VP Leni could have followed the footsteps of her father, Judge Antonio Gerona Sr., who was an RTC Judge in their home City of Naga. Before her husband’s passing, she had been shortlisted to become presiding judge in any of the three Regional Trial Courts in the Bicol region.

    Five, VP Leni maintains a simple lifestyle and we all love her for that. This simple lifestyle has been a few times captured on photos and have gone viral on social media. Nakita niyo po siya na sumasakay ng bus, nakita niyo po siya na naka-maong at saka naka-tsinelas.

    And there was this photo at the backdoor entrance to the plenary hall of the Batasang Pambansa during the President Noynoy Aquino III’s SONA in July 2015. Alam ko po ito kasi I used to work in Congress. She was trying to avoid the red carpet at the main entrance. Her family stays in a condo in Quezon City and stays in an apartment when in Naga. She is that simple. No big house, no mansion in an exclusive subdivision.

    Six, when the family goes on trips, VP Leni plans the itineraries. She does the research on hotels, cheap air fares, what to do and see, and how to get from one place to another.

    Seven, VP Leni is very organized. On her computer hard drive are multiple lists pertaining to her household: what’s in the pantry, what’s in the bodega, what books and magazines are in her collection, catalogued photographs. Everything in the household is also labeled: the food closet, the medicine cabinet, school and office supplies drawers, etcetera.

    [15:15]

    Nine, she is a super mom to Aika, Tricia, and Jillian and a devoted mother. When they were growing up, she made color-coded outlines for their lessons. She checked all their notebooks every day to make sure they did their school work correctly. She also required her children to be good at least in one musical instrument and in one sport. Aika plays the piano, swims, and plays table tennis; Tricia, a medical doctor, plays the piano and violin, and swims, too; Jillian plays the guitar, is a champion swimmer, and plays table tennis. I’m so interested in this because I’m here in Celebrity Sports.

    All the while when Jesse was Mayor, she was the personal driver and watchdog of her kids. By the way, VP Leni also took piano lessons I think for 10 years, but her daughters play better than she does.

    You all know about VP Leni’s life, but I do hope that these little tidbits about her private life have helped you to get to know her better. Please we– welcome our guest of honor, the candidate that inspires us, the candidate that gives us hope, the candidate that we trust, VP Leni Robredo.

    VP LENI: Hi, everyone. Happy Sunday! Good morning, everyone. Grabe kumare, grabeng– grabeng research ‘yun ha. I– I don’t know how many hours you have poured into that pero those are tidbits that not a lot of people know, pero totoo po ‘yun– totoo po ‘yun lahat. Sometimes binubuko ako ng mga anak ko. Pero– pero before– before the conversation starts, let me just take this opportunity to thank every one of you. Alam ko ‘yung sabi ni Atty. Susan that you have been organizing already since– since August. Actually– actually those were– those were the months that I– I was not decided yet on filing my candidacy. In fact, noong mga August, September, I was neck-deep into my work of trying to unite all the other presidential contenders not aligned with the administration. Maraming kumokontra sa 'kin, maraming nagsasabi na ako na lang ‘yung kumandidato but at that time, I was– I was bent on exerting all effort. I was bent on exerting all effort to make– to make sure sana that we’ll just have one common candidate because I– I already knew at the time na very formidable ‘yung Marcos and Duterte combined.

    So you all know that I have been unsuccessful. I have been unsuccessful in uniting the candidates. Kung na-unite ko sana sila ‘yung decision point ko na lang is whether or not I will– I will run for a local post, particularly as governor of Camarines Sur. In fact, I was doing preliminary work already in preparation for that. I felt din that mas bagay ako sa lokal kasi gusto ko talaga nung nasa– nasa baba, and I– I felt na having a common candidate would– will be our best chance on putting an end to the kind of– the kind of politics and the kind of governance we have been going through for so long. Pero the talks didn’t do well, not– not just because the candidates, the contenders were– were unwilling to join– join forces, but as the talks were progressing, it became more apparent to me na iba ‘yung mga pinaglalaban. Iba na ‘yung pinaglalaban, especially as far as politics and governance is concerned. So, to cut the long story short, ‘yung– ‘yung decision point ko, I– I announced October 7, that was a Thursday, I only finally decided on the– the Monday before that. So, it was a rollercoaster of events in the days leading to the announcement.

    [19:56]

    Pero I– I think I’ve said this so many times already that when I decided to run, I was prepared for a long and lonely fight. To be very honest with you, the five and a half years has– has, you know, made a part of me jaded already. Nakikita ko ‘yung lahat ng mga nangyayari na hin– I– I felt was not who are as Filipinos. And yet you see the numbers in the surveys, and ‘yung– ‘yung sa ‘kin, nade-deflate ako in the sense na I felt na we were veering away from who the Filipino is.

    So, iniisip ko noon, ano na, wala na, wala na ‘tong pag-asa. Kakandidato na lang ako to provide for an alternative. In fact, when I talked to Sen. Kiko to ask him to be my running mate, I already told him. Ang sabi ko to Sen. Kiko, “I’m asking you to be my running mate, but I– I won’t keep your hopes high. Maging handa tayo na magiging sobrang lungkot ‘yung laban na ‘to, pero this is a fight that we need to do.” Masuwerte naman ako na si Sen. Kiko, we– were both on the same page and was– was also willing to take the sacrifice.

    But I would like to thank all of you. Nakikita ko ‘yung ginagawa niyo. I know that you have been involving yourselves in too many– too many initiatives to help– to help in the campaign. Alam ko na meron kayong mga forums sa mga seminars that you have been organizing. Ang iba sa inyo nagpapalugaw. Merong mga Leni kits and printed materials na pinapagawa at pinapamigay niyo. Some of– some of the lawyer– Lawyers for Leni chapters have been doing legal aid missions. So, maraming salamat. I– I was in a Zoom meeting before– before this one and I will be in another after this one. Just talking to the volunteers keeps us inspired. Nararamdaman ‘yung energy to– ‘yung– ‘yung willingness that despite the difficulties of the campaign, despite the– despite the resources and the political might of– of the other camp, handang-handa tayong lumaban.

    Pero, ako, I was– I was looking at– at everyone when we were starting, ako, I am so humbled. I am so humbled to be in the midst of so many accomplished– accomplished lawyers na tingin ko, tingin ko kailangan ko ikuwento. I– I hope you don’t mind that this will be a very candid con– conversation about myself kasi, baka kasi ‘yung nababasa niyo ‘yung mga good parts lang, [laughs] ‘yung mga good parts. And tingin ko, responsibility ko na ikuwento sa inyo kasi you will be the one defending me, you will be the one helping me. Dapat alam niyo my journey as a lawyer. Mara– maraming parts dito alam na ng public, pero siguro ‘yung iba hindi masyadong alam, so ikukuwento ko sa inyo.

    After I graduated from the UP School of Economics, I was really set to– to go straight to law school, pero 1986 ako nag-graduate eh. 1986 ako nag-graduate and the– the years leading to 1986, ‘yung mga kasama ko dito from UP alam naman na those were tu– tumultuous years after Ninoy Aquino was assassinated. And I was– I was very apolitical before, but after the assassination, I became very active in– in campus– campus activities leading to EDSA. So, noong nangyari ‘yung EDSA, I was graduating. I was graduating and when– when the new administration was already in place, I felt that I had to be part of the change that was happening. Ano lang, napakaliit ko naman na speck sa– sa buong scheme of things, but that was when I– I asked permission from my dad to– to work for government first. And the compromise with my dad was really to work for government for one year and go to law school already.

    Pero noong– noong nag-work kasi ako, I worked for a– ito­– siguro ano ‘to, destiny ito kasi I worked for a– a government office called Bicol River Basin Development Program. Para siyang NEDA pero for the Bicol region, pero it was under the Office of the Vice President. So– so, little did I know that I will be joining the office in the future, pero that was where I met my husband. My husband was the program director of the office, so I was an economic researcher when I joined. Noong umalis ako, I was an economist. Pero it was a whirlwind romance – nakuwento ko na din ‘to several times – a year after meeting my husband, we got married already.

    [25:00]

    So, nakuwento ko na din ‘yung pamamanhikan ng asawa ko na when my husband was asking for my hand in marriage, my dad told him, “Hindi pa puwedeng mag-asawa ‘yung anak ko kasi mag-aabogado pa ‘yan.” And it was a promise that my husband gave my dad, that even if we’re married already, he would make sure that I will still become a lawyer.

    So, after we were engaged and before we were wed, in-enroll na ko ng asawa ko sa law school. And the only law school at that time in Naga was University of Nueva Caceres. So, that was where he enrolled me, and a few months after that, he ran for mayor of Naga. So, he ran for mayor of Naga and won. That was January of 1988. Noong una okay pa kasi kami pa lang dalawa, wala pang anak. Pero when I– after I gave birth to our eldest, that was when it became very difficult for me to continue law school kasi I was– I was working full-time. After– after I got engaged to my husband, I resigned from work kasi parang unethical, ‘di ba, to continue– to continue working there with a boss as my fiancé. So, wala namang masyadong opportunities in Naga at that time for someone who graduated Economics, so– so ‘yung nangyari, ang– ang opportunity lang talaga dito magturo.

    So, I joined a local universi– I joined the faculty of a local university. I was an Economics professor, and ano, full-time ako. Full-time ako, so I was teaching from 8 to 5 sa college department, Economics, tapos after 5, I was– I was doing eve– evening class sa law school, 5:30 to 8:30. But when– when we had Aika already, umuuwi ako 9:00 na ng gabi, hindi ko na naaalagaan ‘yung anak ko. I– I wanted to quit several times already, pero my husband wouldn’t hear of it. Sabi niya, “Papatayin ako ng tatay mo ‘pag hindi ka naging abogado.” So, it was really my husband who pushed me to become a lawyer, pero I took up laws for so long kasi nung when– when things become– became difficult, nagbabawas ako nang nagbabawas ng load. If it is election year, magki-quit ako ng one semester to help my husband out, pero natapos din.

    Natapos din, and then, I did not take the bar at once. Nag-take ako a year after, pero when I took the bar a year after, meron kaming– meron kaming mistaken belief ng asawa ko na kung magre-review ako sa Manila, mas makakapag-focus ako. Dalawa na ‘yung anak ko. Dalawa na ‘yung anak ko, pero noong pumunta ako sa Manila, that was the huge mistake kasi when I went to Manila uwi ako nang uwi. Uwi ako nang uwi. Hindi ako nakaka-focus sa review kasi nami-miss ko ‘yung mga anak ko. And talagang very, very unprepared, very, very focused, na talagang hoping for a miracle na lang. After the third Sunday, after nung Commercial Law, nagka-dengue ‘yung anak ko and naospital. So, Monday after the third Sunday, umuwi ako sa Naga. I stayed here until– until Thursday. Bumalik ako Friday sa Manila, tapos noong Sunday after that magre-Remedial Law. And pinakamahirap pa naman sa ‘kin ‘yung Remedial Law, which was also very ironic kasi my dad was Civil and Criminal Procedure professor sa university, and siya pa ‘yung Remedial Law reviewer.

    Noong nag-take ako talagang alam kong babagsak ako. Alam niyo kung ilan nakuha ko sa Remedial Law? 57. Muntik pa kong ma-DQ. Muntik pa kong ma-DQ, so hindi ako nakapasa the first time I took it. Syempre traumatized ako. Traumatized ako, I didn’t want to take the– the bar anymore. I took it three years after I first took– I took the first one. So, nag– nag-bar ulit ako in ’96. Nag-bar ako in 1996, pero ‘yung– ‘yung second bar ko, ang pinag-aralan kong– ang pinag-aralan kong Persons and Family Relations, book 1 pa ng Civil Code. Noong second bar ko, Family Code na, tapos ‘yung Civil Procedure ay amended na. ‘Yung NIRC, ‘yung Taxation ay amended na. So, talagang ginapang ko, but I knew better. I knew better the next time I took it, hindi na ko pumunta ng Manila for the review.

    Dito ako sa Naga, dito ako nag-review. I– I was with my children. Dalawa ‘yung anak ko, and pumunta lang ako sa Manila for the pre-week. Naalala ko ‘yung pre-week pa namin noon, kasi provincial school kami eh, ‘yung pre-week namin noon sa UE, tapos ‘yung naka-dorm kami doon sa likod ng UE, sa may tapat siya ng PRC na ‘pag umuulan nang malakas bumabaha. Pumupunta kami sa– sa review class na galing kami sa baha.

    [30:02]

    Tapos, I was– I was in a room with– with 15 other people, mga– mga ano ka naman, mga batchmates ko lahat. Tapos ‘yung dormitory namin hindi ko ‘yun makalimutan kasi ano siya, coed. ‘Yung room namin lahat kami babae, pero 16 kami sa loob na eight na, ano ‘yun, double deckers. ‘Yung katabi namin na room, 16 din sila, nagre-review sila for Criminology. ‘Yung mga [laughs] ‘yung mga katabi namin lahat lalaki, tapos lahat sila nakatambay sa corridor na walang shirt, ‘yung parang ‘di ba sanay ‘yung mga– sanay ‘yung mga lalaki dito sa atin na mainit. Walang shirt sila, nasa corridor, tapos ‘yung banyo, dadaan ka sa kanila para ka maligo. So– so, [laughs] ano talaga ‘yun, parang very memorable ‘yung pag-review ko sa bar the second time, but because I was able to focus already. I was able to review well, so I– I passed the bar the second time I took it.

    Marami ditong fake news na ang daming beses ko nag-take ng bar, pero actually, I passed the bar the second time I took it. So, I took it in ’96, nakapasa ako ’97. Very memorable din ‘yung araw ng pagpasa ko kasi lumabas ‘yung bar results birthday ko, and birthday ko lumabas, ano ‘yun, April 23 and midnight. Midnight siya ng April 23, ‘yung– ‘yung pa-birthday ko lang, and our law dean called up the house. It was my husband who took the call. Gising pa– gising pa kami lahat kasi ano yata ‘yun, it was a Sunday. Ay, hindi. Basta– basta gising pa kami lahat and my– my husband was in another room, kami ng mga bata nasa other room. Narinig ko na lang sumisigaw ‘yung asawa ko. Sabi ko, “Ano kayang nangyari?” So, nagtakbuhan kami ng mga bata. ‘Yun pala, nakapasa ako sa bar. So– so, very memorable. Pero alam niyo, noong nakuha ko ‘yung bar results, ang baba ko pa din sa Remedial Law. As in mababa pa din ako, parang 60 plus. Buti na lang mataas-taas ‘yung results ko sa ibang– ibang subjects. Pero hindi– nakakahiya sa tatay ko kasi sabi ko masisira ko ‘yung reputation ng tatay ko na Remedial Law professor siya.

    Pero when I passed the bar, parang ako, I– I knew in my heart that I really wanted to take public service, the track of public service lawyering. And the only track that I knew then was PAO. So, ‘yung pinaka-una kong trabaho talaga, PAO, so naging PAO lawyer ako. Pero my– my husband was mayor at that time. Sobrang happy ako sa PAO. Every Saturday, nasa jail ako. Nasa BJMP ako every Saturday kasi pini-prepare ko ‘yung mga ipe-present kong mga kliyente for the week. Pero dahil ‘yung my husband was mayor at that time, ang dami niyang pinapahuli na ako ‘yung– ako ‘yung abogado. Pinapahuli niya sa– pinapahuli niya sa drugs, pinapahuli niya sa jueteng, pinapahuli niya sa violation of city ordinances, naa-assign sa ‘kin. So, I knew that mahirap i-pursue ‘yung trabahong ‘yun. That was when I transferred to SALIGAN.

    I learned of SALIGAN just in time. When I learned about SALIGAN, I felt it was perfect for me. Tingin ko perfect siya for me because it was still public service lawyering pero it was not– it was not a government office anymore. Hindi ko alam kung sino dito ‘yung familiar sa SALIGAN, pero ‘yung SALIGAN, ano siya, legal resource NGO. Lahat kami abogado, but what we were doing is really empowering the– empowering the margins through legal education, with the belief that if people know of their rights under the law, they will– they will be in a better position to fight for their rights. So ‘yung buong– I was with SALIGAN for 10 years. ‘Yung buong– ‘yung buong buhay ko sa SALIGAN, I was doing litigation, but mostly, we were– we were immersing ourselves in the communities all over Bicol region. Sinasalin namin ‘yung batas into the dialect para mas maiintindihan. We were training– we were training community leaders to be paralegals para kahit walang abogadong available, puwede pa din nilang ma– ma-defend ‘yung sarili nila. So, I– I felt then that it was the best– best work for me.

    Pero in 2010, my husband was appointed to be part of– as DILG Secretary. So, he became part of– of PNoy’s Cabinet. Nahirapan na ako to continue my work with SALIGAN because me work allow– requires me to be in so many places for long periods of time, walang maiiwan sa bunso namin. That was when I decided to apply for the judiciary.

    [35:00]

    So, nag-apply ako sa judiciary. So, I– I went through all the– the process. I think I applied in 2011. I went through all the process. By 2012, nakapa– nakalabas na ako. Na-nominate na ako ng JBC. Tinatanong na ko. I was nominated in [three salas 36:10]. Pinapapili na ako kung alin ‘yung preferred ko and pumili na ako. And then after that, before my appointment papers were signed, namatay ‘yung asawa ko.

    So, noong namatay ‘yung asawa ko because of the plane crash, my– my two daughters were in Manila because one was working already, the other was in college. Ako saka ‘yung bunso nasa– nasa Naga. I– we wanted to join the– the two– two already in Manila, nag-request ako. Nag-request ako if my– if my application can be transferred to Quezon City, where we live. So– so, ‘yun ‘yung– I was in the process of– of doing that, tapos biglang filing na for the Congressional elections. Nakuwento ko na ‘to sa marami sa inyo. Nagkaproblema dito sa amin, that I had to be a candidate. So, parating– parating maraming turns yung buhay ko na, when I was a candidate, I was running against a very well-entrenched political dynasty here. Mahirap.

    Noong nasa Congress ako, ito, mareng Dot, hindi ko pa ‘to sa ‘yo nakukuwento, noong nasa Congress ako, I felt so lost kasi sanay ako ng working directly in the communities. So, while– while I was enjoying legislative work, parang nahihirapan doon sa pakikipag-usap para maipasa mo ‘yung mga– mga inihahain mong batas. Hindi ako doon marunong eh. I wasn’t trained to do that. Mahina talaga noon. So, I was in Congress Monday to Wednesday or sometimes Monday to Thursday, pero what I looked forward to was really going home. I– I would go home from– from Thursday until Sunday.

    Nag-attempt din akong mag-Master of Laws in San Beda. Ito, lagi ‘tong nafe-fake news kasi ang sinasabi nila nag-MBA ako sa San Beda. It was not MBA. Master of Laws ‘yun for one semester, pero Saturdays kasi ‘yung class. Saturdays ‘yung class, so naka-one semester lang ako kasi I felt na I was shortchanging my constituents kasi Saturday I have to go– go back for my classes, when it should have been time for constituency work. So, the constituency work part was the best part of my Congressional years.

    And then, when– when 2016 was around the corner already, the decision point was – would I still run for– for a reelection or babalik na ako, babalikan ko na ‘yung application ko sa judiciary? And then, ewan ko ba kung ano nangyari. Naging VP candidate ako.

    Nawalan ng kandidato yung partido, biglang ako ‘yung kandidato. Wala naman akong imagination na mag-occupy ako ng national post as high as the VP. Pero nung nangyari ‘yon siguro ‘yung advantage ko is masipag talaga ako– masipag talaga ako in everything I do kahit sa bahay. Sinabi ni Mareng Dot na lahat naka-catalogue, I’m very organized. Ganoon talaga ako. Sobrang OC about so many things.

    So, when I became Vice President, kahit ang feeling ko fish out of the pond ako, I really swore to do the best that I could in the 6 years that was given to me. So inasikaso naman namin. I think most of you are familiar with the work that we do at the Office of the Vice President that we did not allow our limited mandate and resources to get in the way of what we wanted to do. We were very successful in collaborating with private organizations. That is the reason why marami kaming nagagawa despite the limitations.

    So eto na ako ngayon: a candidate already. Again, who would have ever thought that I would be VP and would be running for President? Pero gaya ng dati, I’ll give it my best shot. Pwede ako mabuhay sa kahit ano. Ang mako-commit ko lang ay kahit anong ibigay sa akin, there is no small task. Sa akin, whatever is given to me, I give it my all.

    I am just so privileged that after I announced my intent to run, so many people from many different affiliations, many different groups all decided to come together. I think the commitment, the passion, the energy, is coming not just from supporting my candidacy but the wellspring talaga is love for country.

    [40:07]

    I have seen this in how people are so interested. I don’t think ‘yung pinanggagalingan noon ay gusto lang nila ako tulungan. I think ang pinanggagalingan doon is really the recognition that the elections would be life-changing for all of us. This would set the direction that our country will take in the next 6 years.

    Para nga sa akin the battle lines are very clear. The kind of governance, the kind of politics that I am offering, that I am representing or that I believe in is so different from the kind of governance or the kind of politics that Marcos is offering. So para sa akin, hindi siya Marcos versus Robredo. Para sa akin, ano ba ang gusto nating mangyari sa bansa natin?

    I was just telling the Zoom meeting earlier, ‘pag minsan ‘pag pinapakilala ako as a politician nahihiya ako. ‘Di ba ‘pag sinabing politiko, corrupt, madaya, sinungaling. Sa akin, kailangan palitan na natin ‘yan. Kailangan palitan na natin ‘yung konsepto na kapag politiko ganito. That politics is not at all bad. Politics can be a vehicle for transformation, for change. The kind of government, the kind of governance we are pushing is one that puts the country above all self-interests. ‘Yung regaining our reputation as a people and as a country is foremost.

    Tingin ko we can only talk about alleviating poverty and all the many things that are hindering our growth kapag nalinis natin ‘yung pamamahala. Hindi tayo makaka-promise ng mga programang malalaki kung hindi natin maayos ‘yung governance. I think that is first and foremost.

    Siguro blessing na din na I’m running as independent. Siguro kung mayroon mang tumutulong na kaunti na mga public officials, they are coming from many different alliances para walang baggage sa simula.

    Again, I know this will a very difficult fight. Alam natin na bumabangga tayo sa pader. Pero with everyone working and so invested in really fighting this out, I am very hopeful. So talagang, thank you. Thank you to everyone. Sunday pa naman ngayon. Alam natin na Sunday ay rest day ng lahat pero you are here. You are joining us and fighting for what is best for our country. I am so looking forward to fighting this fight with all of you. There are 4 months, barely 4 months before the elections. Marami tayong ihahabol pero kayang kaya natin ‘yan basta focused lang tayo, strategic. We listen to as many comments as possible. We are very open to that. So maraming salamat for being with us. Mabuhay kayong lahat.


    FINA TANTUICO: Maraming maraming salamat po, VP Leni, for sharing with us your journey. Nakakataba po ng puso dahil katulad mo, kami po’y mga abugado na katulad mo pero karamihan sa amin ay katulad mo rin na isang asawa at isang ina. That’s why we find something in common with your journey. That is why I think our support for you is very sincere-because we join you in what you have gone through. It’s a very common thing. It’s a very common journey: ‘yung paghihirap, ‘yung challenges that you went through. It’s very awesome to note, VP, that parang you were destined to be where you are now and that is why this is our date with destiny. Maraming salamat po, VP Leni, for being with us this morning. Marami po tayong katanungan. Magkakaroon po tayo ng isang dialogue. We have a lot of panelists with us this morning.

    Pero mayroon lang po akong isang tanong na galing po sa isang kaibigan ko. Itago po natin sa pangalang Maricar. Ang tanong po niya ay napaka-interesting: Meron po bang twin brothers si Sec. Jesse? Kasi sabi po ng kaibigan ko single pa po siya baka naman po mayroon pong twin brother si Sec. Jesse.

    [45:19]

    VP LENI: Ito, Attorney, very funny ‘yung question but siguro just a little background about my husband: mahirap din ‘yung pinagdaanan niya. ‘Yung family pong pinanggalingan ng asawa ko, ‘yung disability runs in the family. ‘Yung kanyang tatay ay blind. Tapos every other child in the family is blind. Lumaki po sila na ganoon ang nakagisnan nila. So everyone was taking care of everyone. They did not allow the disability, again, to get in the way of what they wanted to do.

    Pure Chinese po ang kanyang tatay pero they were not educated in Chinese schools. In fact, ‘pag nagsasalita po yung father-in-law ko when he was still alive, tawang tawa kami kasi marami siyang ayaw sa kultura. ‘Yung asawa ko and mga kapatid niya were schooled in Catholic schools.

    ‘Yung asawa ko Atenean noong high school, La Salle siya for college, and went to UP also. I think yung pinagdaanan ng asawa ko is very instrumental in being the kind of person that he was and being the public servant that he was. Tumira po kami sa in-laws ko for 8 years nung nag-uumpisa palang kaming dalawa, nung nagkaroon na kami ng dalawang anak, before kami lumipat sa apartment na tinitirahan namin. ‘Yung apartment po sa family din nila.

    Pero ‘yung father-in-law ko po at 5:30 or 6 o’clock in the morning kumakatok na sa – Mayor na yung asawa ko, ha – kumakatok na sa pintuan namin, everyday. And– usually ako ang magbubukas ng pinto, tatanunging niya: “Gising na ba si Jess?” Tapos sasabihin ko po sa kanya: “Pa, hindi pa po kasi may inattendan na something.” Tapos gusto ng father-in-law ko si Jess ang pinakamaagang dadating sa office kasi kailangan siya maging example sa kanilang opisina. So parang very exacting. Pero ‘yung values sobrang klaro.

    So ‘yun. Wala siyang twin brother. Pero silang magkakapatid ganoon. Kahit yung mga kapatid niyang blind are into their own advocacies. My brother-in-law is the president of the Philippine Blind Society now. ‘Yung sister-in-law ko is a volunteer in Naga sa pagtuturo ng computers sa mga blind. ‘Yung sister-in-law ko who is in PGH, UP din po ‘yun, doktor siya, is devoting all her life to her mission work for persons with disabilities. So everyone in the family is into public service and that sort of rubbed of sa akin. I think that was very instrumental in my being a public servant also.

    FINA TANTUICO: Thank you po sa very inspiring story po about Sec. Jesse. That’s why he still lives in hearts and the legacy left-clean government, good governance-still lives in us to this day. So napakasarap po kayong kausap, VP, pero ang dami pong gustong magtanong baka ako’y suntukin na nila kasi I am monopolizing the conversation.

    So let me introduce po our 3 panelists this morning. Tatlo po sila: si Atty. Beverly Noriega, Atty. Marienne Ibadlit and Atty. Farrah Decano. Ibabahagi po nila ang mukha ng kani-kanilang mga rehiyon sa pamamagitan ng paglantad ng iba’t ibang mga isyu na hinarap nila sa kasalukuyan. So, tatawagin ko po muna si Atty. Beverly. She will dialogue po with you and after Beverly - and you will answer her questions – and after Beverly, Beverly will be followed by Atty. Marienne Ibadlit and after Atty. Yeyen, it will be Atty. Farrah Decano. So may I call on Atty. Beverly Ann Noriega?

    [50:00]

    ATTY. BEVERLY NORIEGA: Good morning, everyone, especially to my sisters in the legal profession and also, most especially, to my President. Ma’am aangkinin ko na. The next President of the Republic of the Philippines, Atty. Leni Robredo. For those who do not know me yet, I am Beverly Ann Noriega, a native of Madrid – not Spain ho – but a rural town in far-flung province of Surigao del Sur in Mindanao. Candidly, I became an environmental activist fairly recently and only by accident. After all, environmental law is not within the line of my practice.

    However, in the evening of December 18, 2020, Surigao was ravaged by Typhoon Vicky, submerging almost all the towns in our province in flood water, neck-deep in some areas, leaving behind an unimaginable damage to our place. The moment the raging rains hit the ground, flash floods soon followed and almost instantaneously making our place a water world. As fast as the water had risen, the color of the water immediately turned to murky orange, obviously indicating the rain water running off the ground surface and overflowing to our tributaries had been gravely contaminated by mineral laterites and other toxic elements, which can only be attributed to poorly maintained siltation ponds of the errant mining companies operating in our district.

    Like Typhoon Odette that devastated Siargao recently, the extent of damage sustained by our rural folks was also insurmountably huge in terms of losses in life, livestock, infrastructures, and property. Because of this, my kababayans sought my help since they knew I have classmates in echelons of power within the Duterte administration purposely to block the passage of the bill sponsored by our very own congressman of Surigao del Sur, Congressman Prospero Pitchay. Yes, that controversial legislator where he proposed to make the entire Surigao del Sur an economic mining zone.

    So, amidst that backdrop, I tapped the help of some luminaries I know in the Duterte administration. Lamentably, it got me nowhere. Last April 2021, Duterte issued EO No. 130, lifting instead the previous ban on the issuances of new open pit mining licenses in the Philippines. Notably, the mining companies operating in our province are actually owned by powerful national and local politicians. Of course, through their dummies. Example, MMDC is actually owned by Martin Romualdez, while Tax Libera by Mike Defensor.

    [55:00]

    The coverage of the new mining claims now being processed already includes our watersheds and key biodiversity areas which, undoubtedly, imperils not only the source of livelihood of our farmers and fisherfolks but also the health and safety of the affected residents.

    So, Ma’am, since I’m only allowed 3 minutes of introductory speech, my question to you is: What is your stand when you become the president on mining given the extent of damage already inflicted on our environment by these mining operators which DENR failed to address? While we recognize the practical and economical benefits of mining, we are not completely averse to mining per se as an economic activity. In fact, we support the Alternative Mineral Management bill now pending before the Senate: prohibiting mining in critical areas like our watersheds and disallowing the extractive yet destructive open pit mining method? So ‘yun ho yung aming katanungan po sa inyo.

    VP LENI: Actually, I share your belief that I am not for an absolute ban sa mining. Pero I am for more responsible mining. ‘Yung EO na pinaasa ni Presidente, if I will be given the privilege of serving this country, ‘yun yung isa sa mga aalisin ko. Why? When Secretary Gina Lopez became the Secretary of DENR there have been a lot of policies already which she tried to streamline in so far as paving the way for a more responsible mining policy. Para sa akin, ‘yung EO na ‘to, it is not yet time for the passage of this EO.

    VP LENI: Kasi ‘yung hinihingi nga natin, number one, not just the passage of the alternative mineral bill which I am fully supporting, but also the passage of the National Land Use Act. Kasi ‘yung National Land Use Act will put in perspective which parts of the country should be declared as no mining zones. So- so para sa akin, if I become president, I- I will certify as urgent the passage of the Land- National Land Use Act. The passage of the Alternative Minerals Bill pero because it takes time para ipasa ang mga batas na ito, I will issue an EO already declaring- declaring areas which are not- declaring no mining areas.

    Kasi para sa akin ano ba ang napapaloob dun sa Alternative Minerals Bill? Not just- not just identifying areas suitable for mining but making sure na in areas where mining is allowed na number one ang magbebenifit dito yung local communities.

    Number two, that no mining activities or any such projects will be conducted without proper consultation kasi sobrang abuse sa atin itong consultation under the law. Kasi anong ginagawa ngayon noong malalaking companies, sobrang ano lang- sobrang consultation kuno pero these are not honest to goodness consultations in a way na people are really given the oporti- opportunity to know what will happen to their communities.

    Usually ‘yung mga consultations magpapatawag may i-ooffer na short change naman masyado ‘yung community tatanggappin naman ng community ‘yun na ‘yung consultation. So- so para sa akin, walang- walang- walang magreresume na mining operations pag hindi pa natin ito naaayos, pag hindi pa naayos ‘yung ano ‘yung no mining zones.

    Number two, hindi pa natin naaayos ‘yung mga batas in place para siguruhin na it is the- the local community or the local economy which will benefit. We will put up mechanisms para ‘yung- ‘yung indigenous peoples who will be affected, ‘yung local communities who will be affected. The mechanisms should provide that their- that their wha- parang sobrang abuse lang to, their voices should be heard. Pero pag sinabi kong voice should be heard hindi lang ‘yun nag- nagkunwaring consultation. Pero ito talagang bibigyan sila ng pagkakataon to -to chart their own course. And make them part of everything that is happening.

    So ano ‘yung nangyayari ngayon, yung nangyayari talaga ngayon sobrang nalalapastangan. Sobrang nalalapastangan ng mga big companies yung mga mining areas na nadidisplace ‘yung- ‘yung communities at more often than not itong mga communities na- na nada-damage mga ancestral domain ng mga IPs natin and yet they do not benefit at all from those activities.

    So, so sa akin mas systemic, mas systemic ‘yung approach, it’s not just simply a banning or not banning pero really putting into place all the necessary legislation. Saka pinakamahalaga din ‘yun leadership, ‘yung leadership na sino ba pipiliin as DENR secretary.

    Also rationalize and streamline all the other agencies na may overlapping of functions halimbawa DENR vis-a-vis MGB, DENR vis-a-vis yung Climate Change Commission. Ang daming mga ahensya na sila sila mismo nagbabanggaan ngayon. So, so before- so before saying na we will allow mining or we'll not allow mining is to put in place all these mechanisms and to pass the necessary legislation.

    ATTY. BEVERLY NORIEGA: Ma'am, just a follow up no, cause the realities in the ground are just so revolting. DENR is our main problem really, cause as it is our watersheds in our province have already been defined under the NIPAS Act so- and yet the present applications already cover watersheds of our district especially Carcar, Nagcarlan and this is so alarming to us because despite of that delineation of areas by NIPAS Act and they're citing the applicants are citing their prior right under- under the mining act. To us it's so unfair as the affected stakeholders or residents because these are already watersheds. The moment these watersheds are damaged they are almost like irretrievably cannot be sustained or repaired. How will the- how will the government address this? DENR itself allows all these applications to continue. So- and it's urgent for us, the other one already expired na yung kanyang license yet they allowed the renewal.

    JANET REGALADO: Thank you, thank you, thank you Atty. Bevs. Maybe we should- Ma’am Leni in the interest of time, can you- can you proceed? Thank you very much.

    VP LENI: Siguro ano lang, short- short- short answer to that. Actually ma’am hindi lang ito ‘yung problema natin, in many other areas in the Philippines, iba-ibang mga problema ‘yung nangyayari pero pareho ‘yung motivation.

    Halimbawa dito lang sa amin, marami ‘yung mga protected areas na ginagawa na mga resort, ginagawa ng kung ano-ano ng mga private na mga tao. Pero kasi ang pinaka- pinakaproblema kasi natin unang-una again leadership. Hindi transparent. Hindi accountable. Walang mechanism for empowering the stakeholders to be part of the process. Maraming nangyayari nalalaman na lang natin, na-award na. Nalalaman na lang natin na-award na, magugulantang na lang tayo wala na tayong magawa kasi meron nang kontrata but dapat kung buong sistema ‘yung papalitan natin, maiiwasan natin ‘yung ganito.

    So- so its really an entire complex web na kailangang basagin pero with the right legislation, the right leadership, more transparent and accountable mechanism and ‘yun empowerment of the- mechanism for empowering the stakeholders maiiwasan ‘yung mga nangyayari ngayon.

    ATTY. BEVERLY NORIEGA: Maraming salamat po.

    FINA TANTUICO: Atty. Yeyen? and Atty. Farah, maybe you can ask your questions? Let's start with Atty. Ibadlit?

    ATTY MARIENNE IBADLIT: Good Morning VP and to everyone present. I am YeNyen, I am presently the IBP National Director for Gender and Development. I was also governor for IBP Western Visayas for the term 2017 to 2019 and I was also chapter president of IBP Aklan. I am a private practicing lawyer based in Aklan, I have two main concerns. In Western Visayas, not just in Aklan, Boracay is one of the top sources of income. However, it was closed in 2018 for six months purportedly for rehabilitation. People lost their properties, jobs, and to some their only source of income. Last September 20, 2021, House Bill no 9826, the Boracay Island Development Authority or BIDA Bill was passed.

    Under the bill, the BIDA has the power to contract, lease, buy, sell, acquire, own, or dispose real property of whatever nature. It also grants the BIDA the power to issue business licenses and building permits and limiting local taxation to the collection of real property taxes.

    The BIDA will be administered by an eleven-member board with the chair appointed by the Philippine president. BIDA will cover the three barangays of Boracay and Caticlan on the Malay mainland and the village neighboring Nabas town. President Duterte has also issued statements supporting the opening of casino in Boracay. Aklanons strongly opposed the BIDA bill and the opening of casino.

    We are interested to know your stand on the BIDA bill and the opening of casino in Boracay. We also would like to know your plans for Boracay? My other concern is the gender-based discriminatory practices in the country, during these administration attacks and vulgar words against women is normalized and under this pandemic, there is a rise of domestic violence, especially violence against women and children. The IBP is working with the Philippine Commission on Women and the Commission on Human Rights to set a referral system and to conduct workshops to help address this need. Still we need help. So I would like to ask what are your plans to help the victims and to eliminate gender-based discrimination practices in the country.

    Lastly, Aklanons are very active in campaigning for you Sen. Kiko, and all the senatorial candidates of TROPA. We have volunteer groups in 17 towns of Aklan with regular palugaw and other activities. We also have Robredocs conducting medical missions, Aklanon Lawyers for Leni conducting legal aid clinics, LGBTQ with our libreng pagupit, Youth for Leni with tree planting, painting of murals, we have Bikers for Leni and Women for Leni. Last Thursday we were informed that you will visit us hopefully this February 12. I am hoping that this will push through and we will do our best in preparing and give you a warm welcome. Thank you and we are fervently praying that you win this election.

    VP LENI: Atty. thank you very much, actually I was- I was scheduled to visit Aklan, January but because of Odette in December we had to- we had to reschedule all our December activities. Naapektuhan na ma’am ‘yung- ‘yung January activities and then we- we had a whole list of- pinushback na namin ‘yung mga December activities to January pero nag-surge, so we had to- we had to reschedule all the December and January activities so- Aklan is one of the- Aklan, Antique, and Capiz are among the three provinces which we are slated to visit the soonest possible time. I'm not just very sure of February 12 but definitely, it will be during the month of February kasi ‘yung mga December Atty. na-move to Feb. ‘Yun ‘yung una, baka makalimutan ko ‘yung ibang questions.

    [01:10:07]

    Yung number two, I will answer you by giving you some of the lessons that- some of the lessons that I learned when I was with Saligan. Kasi sa Bicol branch ng Saligan, I was the only woman lawyer, all the other lawyers were men so naturally almost all the violence against women cases were- were being handled by myself.

    So, a lot of lessons there, yung number one, ‘yung accessibility is very important. Pag sinabi kong accessibility, dapat talaga maging community-based ‘yung mechanism at dahil marami ‘yung mga victims ng abuse na either natatakot, nahihiya o nahihirapan ang access kung malayo sa kanya.

    Not everyone has access to lawyers, not everyone has access to advocacy groups, so when I was- when I was with Saligan, we started organizing and converting the existing women- women groups into advocacy groups against domestic violence.

    Dahil mga abugado kami syempre tini-train namin as paralegal so- so ang- ang experience ko halimbawa when RA 9262 was passed, sobra talagang life-changing siya ‘di ba? Life-changing siya kasi na-recognize hindi na lang yung physical saka sexual violence but more importantly ‘yung psychological saka financial violence which was very prevalent among- among many- many- many households.

    Ang narealize lang namin, we started by just doing Saligan and Bantay Familia. Ang Bantay Familia is a city-wide advocacy groups especially for this purpose. Hindi pa din siya naging enough, meaning to say, while- while yung- yung awareness na merong- merong proses- merong malalapitan, nag-iinvite ng more women, mas marami pa rin ‘yung would choose to be quite.

    So when we- when we- when we organized Bantay Familia into barangay based organizations, grabe yung change. Grabe yung change in the way na ‘pag merong barangay based na- na mechanism, ‘yung mga victims of abuse may nalalapitan siya. Pero- pero that is just one side of the question.

    ‘Yung- ‘yung second side of the issue na- na malaking learning sa akin, talagang economic empowerment is key. Sinasabi ko to kasi marami akong mga kaso, halimbawa, one man team ako dati, ako na ‘yung nagre-rescue, ‘yung bahay na namin ‘yung nagiging halfway house. Ako ‘yung magdadala sa medicolegal, ako ‘yung magdadala sa pulis, ako ‘yung magdadala sa piskal.

    Pupunta ako sa korte, ako magdadraft ng mga pleadings, pero pagdating ‘dun, pag- pag ongoing na yung kaso nawawala na ‘yung kliyente ko and I would later learn na bumalik na sa asawa kahit alam nya na magiging very abusive pa rin ‘yung condition and the reason for that is mahina ‘yung loob nya. Mahina ‘yung loob niyang lumaban kasi wala siyang kita.

    So when we realize that a lot of our women, women empowerment programs were already focused on women empowerment. ‘Yung women empowerment in a way na hindi lang na binibigyan mo silang access to capital, hindi lang na binibigyan mo ng access to market, pero really looking for ways na ‘yung mga- mga asawang nag-aalaga ng mga anak sa bahay o hindi nagtatrabaho sa labas magkakaroon ng pagkakakitaan.

    Dahil kahit kaunti ‘yung kita nakakadagdag siya sa confidence. Nakakadagdag siya sa confidence to- to thwart abuses. So many of our programs when I became member of Congress and many of our programs when- when now that I am Vice President already were really focused on women empowerment parang- parang yung mga programs namin, halimbawa one such program is Angat Buhay Workshop for Aspiring Women Entrepreneurs, parang ini-intersperse na lang namin ‘dun ‘yung mga- mga lessons ng gender equality, ng- ng abuse, pero yung pinaka- pinaka- pinakahayag talaga ‘yung- ‘yung ano to ‘yung- ‘yung economic empowerment kasi ‘yun ‘yung maka- nakaka-relate yung kababaihan.

    Kasi when I was starting with Saligan, nandoon lang kami sa gender sensitivity training hindi siya masyadong ano- hindi masyadong nakaka-relate ‘yung- ‘yung ordinaryong babae. Pag– pag pinag-usapan mo lang kung ano ‘yung karapatan niya, parang hindi niya masyadong nakikita ‘yung- nakikita ‘yung halaga nito in relation to the daily- to the daily struggles.

    [01:15:06]

    Pero if you do it through the economic empowerment route, mas responsive sila and mas- mas- mas ano to- mas all in sila sa programa. So- so para sa akin, ‘yung- ‘yung programa para sa mga kababaihan binibigyan ng maraming- maraming focus saka maraming siguro pondo.

    ‘Yung eto- ‘yung how to economically empower women even- even women who are homemakers, kasi it helps- it helps them gain back their confidence. ‘Yung pinaka-una, I- I have made several statements about Boracay already. Noon pa lang- noon pa lang- noon pa lang papasarahin ‘yung Boracay.

    In fact nagpadala kami ng team doon. Nagpadala kami ng team doon at hindi tinanggap ‘yung team na- hindi kami pinayagan ang- ang ang ang dahilan sana noong team namin, gumawa kami ng sustainable livelihood programs doon sa mga maliliit, maliliit na mga nagtatrabaho sa Boracay.

    ‘Yung mga- alam mo ‘yun mga tour guides, ‘yung mga nagtitinda na may say- may safety net sila habang nakasara ‘yung Boracay. We were not allowed to do that. Sa- sa akin kasi again babalik ako doon sa overarching na paniniwala ko about creating policies such as this. Pag hindi talaga transparent ang proseso, nakakalusot ‘yung mga ganito, na even if there is strong opposition from- from the ground. Even if there is strong opposition from the stakeholders who will- who will be affected directly, ano talaga eh- nakakalusot ‘yung mga ganito parang they will ram this into our throats na buo na. Alam mo ‘yun? Na dapat sana ‘yung pinapakinggan tayo sa umpisa pa lang and hindi- hindi ito pwedeng maging leader-dependent pero the mechanism has to be legislated.

    Kaya- kaya ‘yung pinaka- one of the- one of the first bills that I filed in Congress was ‘yung People Empowerment Bill. Ito talaga is really creating mechanisms. Ano- ano to mandated, mandated dapat. Really creating mechanisms para all levels of government, from the local governments to the national government agencies.

    ‘Yung People’s Council is– is institutionalized, meaning to say, no plans, no programs, no contracts can be entered into without going through the process– the transparency that is required, na people will not just be informed of what policies were passed but no policies will be passed without a proper representation from the stakeholders.

    Magbibigay lang ako example. The– the inspiration for that particular bill is what we did in Naga. In Naga when my husband was Mayor, there was an initiative with the Catholic Church to put up a Naga City People's Council which is supposed to be a parallel city council. But the People's Council is composed of representatives from all the sectors in Naga–unelected but chosen by– by the sectors they are representing. But the ordinance, the Empowerment Ordinance mandates that the Naga City People's Council will be represented in all the committees of the city whether executive or legislative.

    Meron nang mga– meron nang mga additional na mga ordinances filed and one such ordinance was 'yung people participation in the budget making process. Walang budget na maipapasa na hindi prinesenta sa People's Council. So, putting up mechanisms like this will ensure na walang mga polisiyang ipapasa na hindi– hindi na-aano to– hindi nabibigyan ng proper representation 'yung mga stakeholders– 'yung mga stakeholders na directly will be affected or will directly benefit from such policies or programs.

    Syempre leadership is very important. Leadership is very important but it is as important as mechanisms. Para sa akin 'yung mga heads of agencies should be people who are– sinabi ko na din to several times na not just experts in their field but respected by the sectors that they represent, are good managers and share the same– share the same governance models that I do and pag sinabing governance model, really puts a lot of premium on empowerment of the sectors so that all policies that will be passed will have to be a collaborative effort between not just government but with the private sector as well.

    [1:20:07]

    ATTY. MARIENNE IBADLIT: Thank you.

    JANET REGALADO: Thank you very much. We now go to the next speaker, Atty. Farah Decano to ask one question, Ma'am Fa– opo.

    ATTY. FARAH DECANO: [ ANOTHER DIALECT 1:20:20 - 1:20:26]. Isang masayang umaga sa ating lahat. Ako po si Farah Decano, isa pong practitioner dito sa Dagupan City. Kasama ko po ang nanay ko, ang former Judge Alicia Decano, 88 years old and–

    VP LENI: Wow!

    ATTY. FARAH DECANO: – na very staunch supporter po ng Leni-Kiko Tandem.

    VP LENI: Hello, Judge! Thank you very much po.

    ATTY. FARAH DECANO: And she told me now, just now, "Please tell her that you attended the rally last– the caravan rally that we organized in Linggayen" and she told me that she– that we were with Chel Diokno and Senator– and Baguilat and yes–

    VP LENI: Ano Ma'am, I think I already have a schedule in Pangasinan. If I am not mistaken, Feb. 3. Ico-confirm ko Ma'am later pero I think Feb. 3. It is a Sunday yata.

    ATTY. FARAH DECANO: Kung may makakita po siya ng tao pag kami po'y lumababas, aba laging nakatingin po 'yan sa tao at nagbibigay po ng mga Leni pins po na ino-order ko po sa Lazada.

    VP LENI: Thank you very much, Judge.

    ATTY. FARAH DECANO: I still have so much here.

    VP LENI: Thank you very much po.

    ATTY. FARAH DECANO: Anyway, tungkol din po sa SALIGAN po, ako po'y nakipag ugnayan sa kanila. I had two projects with them when I was councilor of Dagupan City. I was a councilor for three terms and I also worked with SALIGAN to work with– on a women legislator's handbook when I was the National President of the Lady Local Legislators League of the Philippines.

    VP LENI: Ay, ang galing!

    ATTY. FARAH DECANO: Dati din po akong IBP chapter President. Sa kasalukuyan– teka– tulad ng nasabi ko po kanina, sa kasalukuyan po tumutulong po ako ngayon sa One Pangasinan Robredo People's Council dito sa Pangasinan kasama po si Maybelyn Fernandez.

    VP LENI: Yes, yes! Si Councilor Maybelyn.

    ATTY. FARAH DACANO: Unti-unti naming binabasag ang myth na may Solid North. Wala naman talaga. Kailangan lang tumindig ang ilan para maging matapang ang iba. Naghahanda na rin po kami sa inyong pagbisita dito.

    VP LENI: Salamat po.

    ATTY. FARAH DECANO: Yes po. Dahil sa coastal province ang Pangasinan, ang isang pangunahing industriya ay ang pangingisda. Nasa balita po ngayon ang pagkaubos ng isda sa Pilipinas at napipilitan na tayong mag-import. Nababahala po ako dahil tila kumakaunti na rin ang fish supply sa Pangasinan dahil sa dynamite fishing.

    Dati po napansin ko po 'yung lapu-lapu ay halos isang bandehado, isang ruler kalaki. Ngayon hindi ko na po mabilhan ang aking magandang nanay ng ganoong kalaki, puro mga ten inches na lang po to eight inches ang nabibili kong lapu-lapu para sa kanya.

    Napagalaman ko din po kay Professor Jay Batongbacal, kasi kaka-MCLE ko lang po sa IBP Aklan na ang mga Chinese fishermen ay umuubos ng mga lamang dagat na– sa mga disputed areas na ikinasisira ng ekolohiya ng dagat.

    Ito po 'yung katanungan ko: paano natin mapipigilan ang pagkaubos ng lamang dagat lalo na ang mga isda dito sa Pangasinan? At kung mapipigi– at kung ito'y mapigilan paano natin naman maibalik ang dating sigla ng pangingisda? 'Yun lamang po at maraming salamat.

    VP LENI: Ako Ma'am I will be answering your question on two levels: 'yung una, 'yung West Philippine Sea na problema natin, 'yung pangalawa ano 'yung magiging mga– mga programa para sa mangingisda.

    'Yung sa West Philippine Sea, kakaunti lang 'yung Pilipino na really passionate about this– about this issue kasi marami 'yung hindi nakaka-relate pag pinag usapan natin sovereignty, pag pinag usapan natin 'yung arbitral ruling parang, sa maraming tao very foreign ito sa kanila.

    Ang treatment– ang pakiramdam ng marami, hindi naman kami apektado diyan. Pero what you just told us is precisely the reason why we need to assert our rights over the West Philippine Sea. 'Yung sinasabi niyo na inuubos ng China, nasisira 'yung ating marine environment, hindi lang 'yun pero sinasabi din noong mga– maraming mga– maraming mga involved sa advocacy. Marami 'yung mga napapangisda nila from our waters na binebenta din sa atin. Binebenta din sa atin na sobrang mahal.

    [01:25:05]

    In one of the briefings that I attended, 'yun 'yung sinasabi nila na halimbawa ang pinaka-example na lang galunggong, na magkano na bang galunggong ngayon 'yung kilo? I think it's 270? 250 per kilo? And the reason why napakamahal na nito kasi binibili na natin from outside pero 'yung irony nito, galing ito doon sa briefing na binibili natin from outside, galing din sa resources natin.

    And not only that. 'Yung kuryente natin, magkakaproblema na tayo sa supply ng kuryente and 'yung pinagkukunan natin ng source ng supply ay nasa karagatan din natin, na pag hindi tayo nagkaroon ng access sa mga lugar na dapat atin naman, very serious 'yung problemang haharapin natin.

    And the reason why I'm telling you this is, kailangan talaga we should vigorously defend our country– our nation's sovereignty and the protection of the environment and natural resources. And we can do this by asserting our rights as declared by alam na– pinag-aralan natin to, 'yung UNCLOS, 'yung arbitral ruling. Pag hindi klaro 'yung posisyon natin, how would we expect other countries to help us in our fight to assert our arbitral ruling na sa atin naman siya nakatutok? Ito 'yung number one.

    'Yung number two, hindi ko alam kung napagdaanan niyo na 'yung ating Hanapbuhay Para sa Lahat Program. Pag tiningnan kasi natin 'yung paggamit natin ng budget over the years, sobrang kaunti 'yung nailalaan sa blue industries. Pag sinabing blue industries kasama doon 'yung fisheries, kasama doon 'yung maritime, kasama doon 'yung aquaculture. Sobrang kaunti 'yung pondo saka programa na inilalaan natin dito na ironic again– ironic siya in the sense na mas malaki 'yung karagatan natin kaysa sa kalupaan.

    Meaning to say ang opportunities ng blue economy ay napakalaki for us na, isa siyang opportunity na hindi natin nama-maximize. 'Yung para sa kin, pag ako ay naging Pangulo, isa ito sa mga industries na tututukan natin. If you look at my Hanapbuhay Para sa Lahat Program, ang sinasabi natin gigisingin natin 'yung mga local industries where we have competitive advantage.

    Pinangalanan natin ‘to: blue industries, green industries, saka 'yung gold, 'yung IT, saka tech. Pero itong blue economy, may competitive advantage tayo dito eh pag inayos lang natin. Ito nga– dito tayo may competitive advantage pero pag tiningnan natin 'yung antas ng pamumuhay ng ating mga mangingisda they are the poorest. And this is sad considering na very rich in water resources tayo.

    Kahapon lang, nandito ako sa Bicol ngayon, kahapon lang I visited a small fishing community in Camarines Sur. Ang pangalan noong town is Cabusao. I don't know if anyone here knows of Cabusao, pero itong Cabusao is a small fishing town na tinutulungan namin for sustainable livelihood and training program pero 'yung kinukuwento nila sa amin dahil wala na silang nakukuhang pangingisda, huminto na 'yung mga anak nila sa pag-aaral, ano na– pumapasok na bilang kung anu-ano 'yung kanilang mga anak just to get by. So naghahanap na sila ng ibang mapupuntahan and nakakalungkot ito.

    Nakakalungkot considering na pag inasikaso naman ng pamahalaan natin, ang daming opportunities for them and yet pinapabayaan natin. So, what is happening to the fisherfolk in Pangasinan is very unfortunate and it is happening in so many other places in the country. We have a fishing community which we visited also in Palawan. Same story.

    Kung naalala niyo 'yung Gem- Ver Fishermen in Occidental Mindoro, sila 'yung ni-ram noong Chinese fishing boat na pinabayaan na lang sila. Until now affected 'yung hanapbuhay nila because of that particular incident. Maraming mga lugar sa bansa natin na talagang naluluklok sa kahirapan 'yung mga magsasaka just because government is not doing enough for them.

    So, this will definitely be a major part of our economic agenda pero 'yung foreign affairs agenda natin ay talagang– is to vigorously defend our win at the arbitral tribunal specifically to protect our marine resources.

    JANET REGALADO: Okay. Thank you po VP Leni. Napakaganda po ng ating diskusyon at marami pong gusto pang magtanong ngunit dahil sa ating kakulangan sa oras, I think at this point we can now call on the President of the Legal Management Association of the Philippines, the UP Women Lawyers’ Circle, and legal consultant of Nissan Philippines, Atty. Arlene Lapuz Ureta to provide her thoughts. Hello, Arlene!

    ATTY. ARLENE URETA: Hi Janette. Good morning everyone, good morning, VP Leni. Bibilisan ko na lang po pero ito po ay napakaimportante nitong aming message for you. On behalf of Women Lawyers for Leni and your UP WLC supporters, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you, VP Leni for this wonderful gift you've given all of us, your presidential bid.

    Finally po kami pong kaming mga naghahangad ng tapat na gobyerno ay nagkaroon ng malaking pagasa na magkaroon ng pagbabago sa pamamalakad ng pamahalaan at sa kundisyon ng ating bayan. Makakaasa po kayo, VP Leni, ng buong suporta ng nagkaisang Women Lawyers for Leni.

    Gagawin namin ang lahat ng aming makakaya upang isulong ang iyong kampanya. Kami ay iyong kasama sa labang ito. Kasama ang aming mga kaanak, mga kaibigan, dahil ang labang ito ho ay hindi labang pulitika lamang. Ito ay laban para sa kabuhayan at kapakanan ng bawat mamamayan at pati ng susunod na henerasyon.

    In other words, ito ay isang tunay na laban para sa bayan. Tulad mo na isang inang nagmamahal, kami rin po ay mga ina o nagsisilbing mga ina na handang lumaban at gawin ang nararapat para sa ikabubuti ng lahat. In fact, VP Leni, ako ay tulad mo din na widow as my late husband General Ureta just passed away last April 2021 and I'm still in the one year mourning period.

    But here I am, with my fellow women lawyers, some widows also like me, kilala mo silang lahat, helping you in their bid for the presidency of this country. Kaisa mo kami, VP Leni, dahil iisa ang sektor natin. Women lawyer ka din na tulad namin na nasa WL4L. Nakahanda kaming maglingkod kaakibat ng iba pang mga lawyer groups under the Team Leni Robredo.

    Katulong mo kami sa pagsalungat sa mga fake news at ituwid ang mga kasinungalingan at disinformation. Kami ay sumusuporta sa iyong sinusulong na full-disclosure dahil kailangan natin ngayon pairalin ang freedom of information, lalo na sa darating na eleksyon.

    Kami ay patuloy na maglulunsad ng mga legal aid missions to showcase the Leni kind of service: tapat, totoo, at walang halong hidden agenda. Higit sa lahat po, kami ay magkakalap din ng pondo na maiambag namin sa gastusin sa iyong kampanya. Ipagpapatuloy din namin 'yung mga individual naming mga pagsisikap tulad ng pamimigay ng lugaw, t-shirts, or campaign materials para abutin ang ating ibang kababayan para maipakita na kailangan ng bayan ng isang Leni Robredo bilang Pangulo.

    VP Leni, we believe in you and in your amazing ability to lead this country to greatness. In the coming days leading to the elections, we will face a lot of obstacles and challenges but we will be there for you. Count on us here in Women Lawyers for Leni to be there and we will be with you in this journey to bring transformation and genuine change in the way our nation will ultimately select its leader and how it will govern this nation.

    With you inspiring us all VP Leni, Women Lawyers for Leni commits to working hard with you to ensure that the rule of law and justice is respected and finally prevails in this country. Nandito lang po kami at handang sundin ang inyong mga direksyon upang maging mas makabuluhan 'yung aming kontribusyon sa iyong kampanya.

    Maraming salamat po ulit VP Leni sa napakahalagang dialogue na ito. Thank you so much.

    VP LENI: Maraming salamat.

    JANET REGALADO: Thank you very much. True, inspiring, and empowering. So at this point, may we respectfully ask VP Leni if she has some parting words to all of us very energized women lawyers and really happy listening to you, very, very enlightened talk. Over to you Ma'am Leni.

    VP LENI: Ano lang, ako I am really very grateful and I am so privileged and humbled that people like you are fighting this fight with us. Alam ko na marami tayong mga kasama who were not active at all in campaigning and in politics before but are finding themselves fighting this fight already now because of the recognition of what is at stake. Kaya I am deeply humbled because so many of you are so busy in your own spheres and yet you are so committed to doing all you can to help us in this fight.

    So please know that we are really very grateful. Kami po andito lang kami. I think the silver lining in this pandemic is we are just a Zoom call away. It was unlike before na it was so different to be in so many places all at the same time. So, ngayon na we can do Zoom, I can be in so many places in one day.

    Halimbawa, this is my third already today. After this I have several more pero it is really a great source of honor that people like you who are so discerning, who are so busy doing what you can in your own fields, are still volunteering your time, your effort, all your energies to this campaign. Ako, let us not be disheartened by the numbers.

    All my fights have been like this. When I ran in 2013, talagang sobrang naghabol ako because I was running against a very well-entrenched political dynasty. When I ran in 2016, I started at one percent, I was number six of six candidates. As of January of 2016 I was still number four, but we prevailed.

    Ngayon, mahaba-haba 'yung ating hahabulin but I am very hopeful. I am very hopeful that as we– as we exert more effort in reaching out to as many people as possible, we will be able to conquer. So, sige lang tayo, laban lang. This is for the country. So, maraming salamat sa inyo. [END 1:36:53]

     

     

    Posted in Transcripts on Jan 23, 2022