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    Interview with Vice President Leni Robredo #ChooseDay Tuesday

    Interview with Vice President Leni Robredo #ChooseDay Tuesday

    Hosts: Goyo Larrazabal, Pia Magalona, Cesca Litton-Kalaw

    GOYO LARRAZABAL: Good day, everybody! Welcome to a very special episode of #ChooseDay Tuesday! I’m Goyo Larrazabal.

    PIA MAGALONA: I’m Pia Magalona!

    CESCA LITTON-KALAW: And I am Cesca Litton-Kalaw. And as Goyo mentioned, we have a very special guest today. Goyo, please take it away.

    GOYO LARRAZABAL: We have as our very special guest today Vice President Leni Robredo. Ma’am, thank you very much for joining us today and joining us on this show.

    VP LENI: Hi, Goyo! Hi, Pia! Hi, Cesca! Thank you very much for inviting me over. Thank you for having me.

    GOYO LARRAZABAL: Ma’am, it’s an honor and pleasure for us to have you on our show and hopefully today, we encourage people to register and vote on May 9, 2022 and we also explain to them what are the programs of the government during the pandemic and post-pandemic. And, let’s start!

    PIA MAGALONA: Yes, let’s start!

    GOYO LARRAZABAL: Ma’am, registration is ongoing now—Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pero many people are asking na, how do we encourage them to register and vote? Kasi marami doon takot kasi pandemic, ‘di ba, they don’t want to go out daw, they don’t want to go to the COMELEC office. How do you think we can tell them, “Hey, it’s safe to go out”—it’s relatively safe to go out so long as you follow health protocols but how do we reach out to them, Ma’am?

    VP LENI: Ako kasi there are a lot of creative ways of doing it pero kailangan talaga collaboration of many different groups, eh. Kasi ang ordinaryong tao, even before the pandemic, lalo na iyong mga apolitical, ayaw nilang pumunta kasi mahaba iyong pila. Ayaw nilang pumunta kasi kailangan pang mag-public transport papunta doon. But you know, iyong LGU kasi saka iyong mga barangays can have a program to help different groups advocating for registration. Halimbawa, puwedeng—iyong ginagawa namin sa opisina na parang volunteer—parang volunteer group siya na libreng sakay. Mas mabuti nga na private, eh. Mas mabuti na private na nag-uusap-usap na halimbawa, this particular day itong mga taga-street na ito mayroon silang libreng sakay para lang makapag-register. Kaya ko sinasabing mas mabuting private, para maiwasan iyong temptation ng mga magkakandidato na ginagawa nila ito to solicit votes for themselves. And I think, ang experience kasi namin dito sa office, na when we provide platforms for private organizations or private individuals to, you know, parang, makatulong, mas naeengganyo iyong ordinaryong tao na tumulong. Ang gustong sabihin, dapat iyong gobyerno would just provide a platform pero hinihikayat iyong private people, private organizations na to do their share. Para sa akin, iyon iyong mas effective, eh. Mas effective in the sense na normally kasi kapag gobyerno lahat, parang walang gana iyong ibang tao. At least iyon iyong experience ko, ha, lalo na iyong mga apolitical. Ang experience ko, iyong mga desididong magregister, iyon pa iyong mga naiisip na they have their candidates in mind already lalo sa lokal. Pero iyong iba na hindi naman aligned with any, alam mo iyon, with any candidate, parang walang masyadong incentive.

    CESCA LITTON-KALAW: Ma’am Leni, you mentioned iyong mga apolitical and these are the people na sila iyong pinakamahirap i-convince na kailangan nilang lumabas, kailangan nilang bumoto and there are people out there who also think na “isa lang naman iyong boto ko, anong magagawa niyan?” From your perspective, gaano kaimportante ang isang boto?

    VP LENI: Napakaimportante kasi iyong isang boto, it would spell the future for all of us, ‘di ba. Pero sa tingin ko kasi kailangan ma-translate into very real and simple terms iyong what does it take, ‘di ba. Parang, “ano iyong epekto sa akin? Ano iyong epekto sa akin ng boto ko?” So kami, nag-iisip kami actually na mag-produce ng mga videos, na mag-produce ng mga parang informational materials, o halimbawa sa mga estudyante—one of the books I’m reading now—in fact nandito sa desk ko, hindi ko alam kung nabasa na ni Goyo, iyong kay Stacey Abrams, iyong—

    GOYO LARRAZABAL: Abrams!

    VP LENI: Iyong Georgia, yes.

    GOYO LARRAZABAL: Hindi ko pa natatanggap!

    VP LENI: Ito, iyong Our Time Is Now.

    GOYO LARRAZABAL: Our Time Is Now, yes.

    VP LENI: Ano talaga siya, hindi ko pa tapos iyong libro pero nagsimula siya doon sa walang interes, eh. Walang interes iyong mga minorities na bumoto kasi lagi naman silang api. Kahit naman sila—iyong history, “kahit naman kami bumoboto, wala namang nangyayaring improvement sa buhay namin.” Kahit ang iba nasa botohan, hindi pa pabobotohin. Parang nagiging avenue pa siya for more discrimination to happen. Pero ang ganda ng kuwento niya. Ang ganda ng kuwento niya in the sense na hindi siya nag-give up. Hindi siya nag-give up kasi halimbawa, iyong Georgia, iyong Georgia parang since time immemorial, Republican siya lagi.

    GOYO LARRAZABAL: Yes, based sa elections, ‘di ba.

    VP LENI: Oo. Pero pinakita kasi noong elections ngayon na kung pagtatrabahuan ng desidido, it can happen. Ang gusto kong sabihin—

    HOSTS. Yes. Tama, tama.

    VP LENI: —na iyong ginawa ni Stacey Abrams, ano talaga siya, talagang sa pinakasuluk-sulukan, iyong advocacy niya talagang kinukuwento niya paulit-ulit, kumuha siya ng mga volunteers, hinihikayat iyong mga hindi interesadong magparticipate sa eleksyon, pinapakita sa kanila kung ano iyong importance ng eleksyon sa buhay nila. Kasi minsan, lalo na kapag walang pakialam, parang ang feeling nila, “Ay, pare-pareho lang naman iyan,” ‘di ba. Parang kahit naman bumoto ako o hindi, pareho naman iyong resulta. Pero ito kasing example dito sa Our Time Is Now, kaya, eh. Kaya kapag desidido ka. Nakita natin iyan hindi lang sa Georgia, pero nakita natin during the 2020 presidential elections sa US. Na talagang there was a conscious effort to, not just to register—to invite everyone to register pero to make sure na iyong mga dating hindi bumoboto, boboto. And it spelled a lot of difference, ‘di ba. It spelled a lot of difference.

     

    PIA MAGALONA: Sorry—that was one of the points that we were discussing ever since the start of the show na napaka—when we started this kasi, kakatapos lang din ng elections sa US so very impressive sa amin iyong nangyari doon na just the fact na dumami talaga iyong mga botante at iyon ang gusto sana naming matulungan dito sa atin na dumami rin iyong mga magrehistro para bumoto dahil parang nakakatulong din, Madam, iyong mag-register ka nga, parang you own it and you empower yourself na gagampanan mo iyong sarili mo as a citizen of the country. Iyon lang naman iyong ano rin namin doon.

     

    VP LENI: Sa tingin ko kasi, Pia, kailangan din nating pagtrabahuan iyong maramdaman nila—maramdaman nila how important one vote is kasi halimbawa, noong eleksyon noong 2016 ni Trump versus Clinton, ‘di ba parang iyong mga surveys panalo si Hillary, ‘di ba. Parang lahat tayo nagulat bakit si Trump iyong nanalo. Pero iyong mga supporters niya kasi karamihan hindi bumoto, eh, ‘di ba. Parehas din iyan noong—halimbawa, pinaka-close to heart iyong Otso Diretso. Iyong Otso Diretso lahat na surveys sa mga universities, mga school campuses, panalong-panalo iyong Otso Diretso pero wala ngang nakapasok sa Top 12. Walang nakapasok sa Top 12 kasi iyong mga estudyanteng bumuboto sa kanila during the surveys, hindi naman bumoboto sa real elections.

     

    GOYO LARRAZABAL: So we need to vote talaga, Ma’am.

     

    VP LENI: Totoo, we need to register kasi it turned out later on na ang dami palang hindi nag-register. Ang daming mga estudyante na of voting age pero hindi nag-register. So sa akin, para sa akin, hindi siya puwedeng parang ano lang, parang iyong kampanya natin parang nasa hangin lang. Parang we don’t leave it to chance. Mayroon talagang mga advocacy groups na iyong tao-tao talaga iyong pagtutok just to register. Kasi parang iyong iba naging ano na, anong term ba iyon, parang naging manhid na iyong iba. Manhid in the sense na, “Wala namang mangyayari, isang boto lang naman ako.”

     

    GOYO LARRAZABAL: “Wala, isang boto lang ako,” ‘di ba, parang “okay, it won’t matter anymore,” ‘di ba, Ma’am. So—but do you see the trend changing now in the past few months na when you’ve talked with people, Ma’am, and get their sentiment, do you see na parang may shift towards a more passionate involvement in the elections?

     

    VP LENI: Ako, yes, yes if we compare it to 2016 or 2017 or even 2018. Parang people are more engaged now and iyong basehan ko diyan iyong mga programs na ginagawa namin dito sa OVP. Ang dami naming ginawang programs lalo with regards to COVID response. Hindi naman namin magagawa without help, eh, kasi kaunti lang kami, kulang iyong aming budget…

     

    GOYO LARRAZABAL: Maliit lang iyong budget niyo, Ma’am, maliit lang. [chuckles]

     

    VP LENI: Oo nga, eh. Pero the mere fact na ang daming, parang nagre-register—mayroon kasi kaming parang mga registration na mga, registration links for volunteers—the mere fact na iyong nagre-register to volunteer are in the thousands, gustong sabihin iyong mga very young people want to get involved, eh. And I think may correlation siya sa eleksyon. Kasi ‘di ba, halimbawa, pandemic, karamihan takot lumabas sa bahay or siyempre uunahin iyong sarili nila to keep themselves safe. Pero the mere fact na ang daming nagvo-volunteer, pagpapakita na ‘di ba, iyong parang citizen action is alive in the hearts of the young people. So we might as well capitalize [on] that and make them realize na, parang they have the power to change the course of the future. Iyong sa akin, ang aking—parang iyong hope ko talaga nasa young, eh. Iyong—

     

    PIA MAGALONA: Ma’am, if I—binanggit niyo mga program, ‘di ba. So sabihin na nating madaling magstart ng program or when you get together ng mga consultants and then mag-iisip ng ano, pero iba pa rin iyong nagfa-follow through, ano, napakahirap noon. So iyan ang isang binabanggit din namin sa ideals ng mga, kapag pumipiling bumoto, ano. Sana iyong mga… ang mga candidate na gustong mag-serve, eh totoong may follow-through. So isa doon is iyong sa COVID kit niyo. Mayroon pa rin kayong ganoon na ginagawa?

     

    VP LENI: Mayroon pa rin, yes.

     

    PIA MAGALONA: So we’re wondering kung paano ninyo nagagampanan na mabigyan iyong mag-apply noon, how do you vet that, papaano niyo chine-check kung ang nabibigyan niyo ay karapat-dapat na tumanggap o basta na lang ba kayo namimigay na lang. I don’t think hindi na lang kayo puwedeng basta namimigay. How do you go about doing that?

     

    VP LENI: Actually, Pia, when we were conceptualizing the program, the intention of the program is really for indigents, iyong mga walang pambayad ng doktor o walang access sa ospital, iyon talaga iyong plano. Pero when we were starting with Bayanihan E-Konsulta already, we realized that kahit hindi mahirap, may pangangailangan. Gustong sabihin, marami ring humihingi sa amin na hindi naman talaga sila mahirap pero nahihirapan sila to have access. So kami, ang sabi namin huwag na tayong mag-istrikto. Huwag na tayong mag-istrikto kasi oras ng pangangailangan ngayon. Iyong mga volunteers namin, we have regular orientations, we have debriefings, alam mo iyon. Sinasabi namin in case of doubt, ang desisyon bigyan. Para sa amin, ‘di ba, parang mahirap kasi kung we leave it to our own judgment kasi hindi naman namin nakikita iyong tao, ‘di ba. So kami, because we are in a crisis situation, kapag sigurado kaming COVID patient, bibigyan namin kahit parang walang—walang ask kung magkano ba iyong income mo in a month kasi ngayon naman, ‘di ba, ngayon naman na COVID, parang equalizer siya, eh. Hindi naman mahirap lang talaga iyong nagkakasakit. And we feel that—mayroon din pala kaming hindi binbigyan. Halimbawa, mayroong local officials from a certain locality na, “magre-request kami ng let us say, 2,000 COVID Care Kits para kapag may nagkasakit sa amin, bibigyan namin.” Hindi kami nagbibigay sa mga ganoon kasi we explain that the COVID Care Kit is just part of a program. Parang it’s nothing if the program is not there. So kami when we give the COVID Care Kit, the person who receives it would be part of the pool already that will be monitored two times a day. So iyong mga volunteers namin, may assigned sa kanila. Dati, one volunteer to five patients. Pero noong dumami nang dumami iyong patients, parang ngayon, 1:10 na kami. So mayroon kaming form, mayroon kaming form doon sa loob ng kit na iyong mga symptoms nandoon and you record your symptoms two times a day. So iyong volunteer namin tatawag in the morning, tatawag sa hapon, tinatanong. Parang ire-recite noong pasyente, “ganito iyong aking temp, ganito iyong aking oxygen level, mayroon ba akong chills ngayon, sira ba iyong tiyan ko, umuubo ba ako,” etc. So, our volunteers are trained na if there are red flags, ipapaalam na doon sa pool of medical doctors. And then kapag may red flags, magse-schedule na ng teleconsultation. So hindi kami puwedeng magbigay lang. Magbibigay kami pero it has to be part of a program.

     

    So right now, we’re starting. We’re starting in Puerto Princesa this week. Our team is flying to Puerto kasi grabe iyong spike ng cases doon. And we’re partnering with local organizations and the LGU and we’re doing the same thing. So alam mo iyon, na it’s not just giving of the kits, eh. Pero the kit is only expected to be a tool with which we can monitor you better.

     

    So para sa akin, pareho din iyan noong pag-i-invite natin na mag-register, pareho din iyon na pag-i-invite to vote for us, na hindi puwedeng basta ka lang magre-register, ‘di ba. Kailangan naiintindihan mo kung ano iyong value ng, kung ano iyong magiging contribution mo. So para sa akin, we can utilize young people to carry our message. Na kung puwede ngang mag-partner tayo sa mga youth organizations, iyong mga SK, ‘di ba, naghahanap lang naman sila ng mga programs, bakit hindi sila maghanap ng… bakit hindi nila gawin iyong programa na tumulong sa pagboto. Puwedeng i-incentivize iyong mga organizations—halimbawa, sabihin na, halimbawa ako iyong LGU, para dumami iyong mag-register sa akin, puwede kong i-incentivize iyong mga SK na halimbawa, iyong top 3 na SK organizations na highest percentage of young people na maalok nila to register, mayroon silang incentive na projects. We can always do that. Carrot-and-stick ba.

     

    GOYO LARRAZABAL: Yes.

     

    VP LENI: Pero towards a particular goal. So iyong point ko lang, we can be very creative about it. Sayang at walang schools ngayon. Iyong schools sana iyong pinakamagandang avenue para i-spread iyong message. Pero at the same time, we can always take advantage of the limitations that are here right now. Ano iyong advantage? Wala silang schools pero nandoon sila sa mga bahay nila, so baka mas madali nga na hikayatin sila kasi siyempre magre-register sila where they reside.

     

    GOYO LARRAZABAL: Tama po.

     

    VP LENI: So ako tingin ko, iyong SK, iyong mga youth organizations, parang mga LGU-based youth organizations are good partners in, iyong sa paghihikayat for young people to register.

     

    PIA MAGALONA: So, Ma’am, puwedeng mag-reach out iyong mga—we’ve been also able to talk to other youth organizations. So in your case, puwede silang mag-reach out sa OVP and parang, ma-try nila kung it’s a good match with you and mag-work kayo together with them, the youth organizations?

     

    VP LENI: Yes. In fact, I know of, parang may mga alliances kami with several groups na ang advocacy talaga to encourage people to register. So we can always link them with these groups na naghihikayat talaga. Halimbawa, one of our partners, iyong Kaya Natin [Movement], mayroon silang Go Out And Vote. Pero again, mas maganda kasi sana i-network natin lahat para may collaboration. Para ano lang, para iyong plano to the smallest detail—kapag sinabing to the smallest detail, hindi lang natin hahayaan na nagkakampanya tayo, sinabi nilang “oo magre-register ako.” Ewan ko, Pia, iyong mga nanay yata ganoon, ‘di ba. Iyong mga nanay, ‘di ba, parang ang kukulit natin, hindi natin hinahayaan na hindi masiguro na—halimbawa, kapag sinabi natin sa mga anak natin, “uminom kayo ng vitamins,” parang babantayan mo hangga’t ininom niya.

     

    PIA MAGALONA: Yeah! At saka kapag dumadaan, “ininom mo ba iyong vitamins?”

     

    VP LENI: Yes. ‘Di ba, parang it’s the same thing, eh. Parang iyong iba tamad mag-toothbrush, “nag-toothbrush ka na ba?” Hindi mo siya hihintuan hangga’t hindi niya pa ginagawa. It’s the same thing, eh. Kapag nag-aaya ka for people to do something, you make sure that they do it.

     

    CESCA LITTON-KALAW: I’m glad that you mentioned the small details, Ma’am Leni, because even with your COVID Kits hanggang sa listahan ng sintomas, mayroong laman iyong COVID Kits. For your other programs, when you entered the Office of the Vice President, what were the small details na you realized you missed along the way na na-highlight ngayong pandemic and you took action on?

     

    VP LENI: Ako, sa akin kasi when I started my term, we already launched Angat Buhay. Iyong Angat Buhay is our flagship anti-poverty program and from 2016 until early 2020, we were focusing on communities that we think have little access to government help and that’s where we go. So we go to the farthest communities, the poorest, and most of them are in the Visayas and Mindanao. Iyong sa amin, tingin kasi namin before iyong Metro Manila, masyado na siyang malapit sa pot in the sense na iyong advantage ng tao sa Metro Manila, nandito iyong gobyerno, and iyong needs nila may malalapitan. And it’s different sa ibang lugar. So kami, for four years, talagang ang concentration namin iyong pinakamalalayo.

     

    But when the pandemic happened, we realized na nabaliktad iyong mundo in the sense na siguro dahil iyong transmission was worse in Metro Manila, so iyong mga affected sa Metro Manila, mas grabe compared sa provinces. Kasi halimbawa sa provinces, humina rin iyong kita. Pero hindi masyadong nagututom iyong tao kasi nakakapagtanim sila. Parang it’s unlike in Metro Manila na ngayon mahirap. Halimbawa iyong mga nawalan ng trabaho, domino effect sa buong buhay nila kasi hindi na sila makakapag-arkila, papaalisin na sila, so homeless na rin sila, wala silang nakakain, etc. So shinift namin iyong aming operations. Ano iyong link nito doon sa dati naming ginagawa? Kung napansin ninyo, medyo mabilis kaming kumilos with our pandemic response and I think the reason for that is na-practice na kami. Na-practice na kami for—

     

    GOYO LARRAZABAL: You’ve ben doing that for—

     

    VP LENI: Yes, we’ve been doing that for more than four years. And na-practice na kami to make do with little. Wala kaming masyadong pera. Wala kaming masyadong pera so ang ginagawa namin para kaming tulay with organizations wanting to help and communities needing help. So when the pandemic happened, parang it was automatic for us already. We knew what to do and kami kasi, iyong dahil sa urgency, because we have been helping also typhoon victims, earthquake victims, iyong Taal eruption, one of the lessons that I’ve learned is kapag kailangan na, huwag mo nang tanungin kung mahirap, gawin mo na lang. ‘Di ba, parang, talagang mahirap pero huwag mo nang tanungin kung kaya mo ba. Iyong point doon, kailangan, eh. Kailangan so wala kang choice kung hindi gawin. Hanapan mo na lang ng paraan—iyon iyong number one. Iyong number two, gawin mo na agad. Huwag ka nang mag-paralysis by analysis. Kapag may kailangang gawin, gawin mo na agad kahit hindi pa perpekto iyan and just tweak along the way. Iyon iyong napag-aralan namin. Halimbawa, when we were doing the shuttle bus, ano namang pagkaalam namin sa transport? Wala naman kaming alam sa transport. Pero alam namin na kailangan. Alam namin na kailangan kasi nakita namin sa TV na ang daming hindi nakakapasok o ang daming naglalakad many hours para makapasok. So mayroon kaming partner—iyong partner namin UBE Express, dati na namin iyong partner—tinanong namin “puwede ba naming hiramin ang mga bus niyo?” sabi nila puwede. Noong nagsabing puwede, sige go na tayo. Ano iyong mga rota? ‘Di ba iyong mga—alam niyo iyong security officers na nakaassign sa akin, iyong nagse-secure sa akin, sila iyong umikot para gawin iyong rota.

     

    GOYO LARRAZABAL: Ang galing, ha.

     

    VP LENI:  Tapos iyon na, one day lang lahat, nag-plano kami in the morning, ginawa namin iyon lahat maghapon, the following day mayroon na kaming shuttle bus.

     

    GOYO LARRAZABAL: But question lang, ha, for example you do the route, were there instances where you had to adjust the route kasi because of the demand?

     

    VP LENI: Yes!

     

    GOYO LARRAZABAL: And how do you do that? How do you change the route? Or how do you adapt or how do you—

     

    VP LENI: Kasi kami, Goyo, ano, social media kami lahat, Facebook, eh. Facebook kami lahat. Kahit iyong walang data puwede sa Facebook, ‘di ba. So kami, iyong first day namin mayroon kaming route. Tapos ako, sinasabi ko na kung basta lang tayo may route, huwag na nating gawin. Kasi ang gusto ko, bawat stop na pupuntahan, alam ng tao kung anong oras darating iyong bus diyan, anong oras aalis. Sabi nila mahirap kasi hindi precise. Sabi ko, kahit pa. Pero kung pareho lang tayo ng ibang bus, huwag na nating gawin. So mayroon kami—mayroon kaming oras bawat—parang same day, sinimulate namin lahat and nakatulong din kasi walang traffic noon, ‘di ba, kasi ECQ. So na-simulate namin siya same day. Mayroon na kaming estimate. And during the first day of operations, na-identify na namin alin ba iyong mga routes na kulang iyong pasahero. Iyong routes naman na maraming pasahero, halimbawa, itong Fairview—iyong Fairview-Novaliches, isa iyan sa box-office hit—

     

    GOYO LARRAZABAL: Ang daming tao.

     

    VP LENI: Kasi ang daming tao galing sa Bulacan, iyong Bulacan side siya na mga workers to Manila. So naghanap kami ng additional buses. Noong naubos na namin iyong bus na available ng UBE Express, nakahanap kami, Diamond Motors. Another line. Tapos ano, naalala ko first two weeks parang every day nagche-change kami, nagdadagdag ng stops, nagbabawas ng stops—

     

    GOYO LARRAZABAL: Okay, ah.

     

    VP LENI: Oo, pero ang gusto kong sabihin, hindi mo kailangan i-perfect bago mo gawin kung kailangan na.

     

    PIA MAGALONA: But I think that’s the true spirit of Bayanihan talaga na nakikita diyan, ano. Kasi talagang—at iyon nga, saka diyan lalabas iyong creativity mo, ‘di ba, at saka iyong kapag gusto mong tumulong lalabas talaga iyan kasi gagawa ka ng paraan ‘di ba, as the need arises.

     

    VP LENI: Ako, I think, Pia, it helps that most of the members of my team are young people. Kasi iyong napansin ko—no offense to us ha, pero—[laughs]

     

    GOYO LARRAZABAL: [laughs] Okay, okay.

     

    VP LENI: Pero napansin ko, iyong very young, ano pa, eh, medyo daring pa. Tingin ko kasi kapag ka-edad ko iyong mga kausap ko, ayaw mag-experiment. Parang, “huwag tayo diyan kasi baka ganito.” Pero iyong mga bata pa, kapag sinabi mong ganito iyong gusto kong resulta, sila iyong maghahanap ng paraan kung paano ako ma-satisfy.

     

    PIA MAGALONA: So hindi tayo offended kasi ganiyan din tayo dati, ‘di ba. Kaya tayo naging ganito kasi ganiyan din tayo dati, ‘di ba—daring, we feel invincible.

     

    VP LENI: [laughs] Totoo. Pero ako, ang isang lesson din na tingin ko hindi ito sa nagbubuhat ako ng sariling bangko, pero I think the reason why parang we are able to do this, kasi hands-on kami, eh. Iyong nasa management team, involved kami sa day-to-day operations. Ang gusto kong sabihin, walang nangyayari na hindi ko alam. Alam mo iyon, halimbawa, mayroon kaming volunteer na konduktor, bata pa, nahilo, parang dahil ako mismo iyong nandiyan, ako iyong nagma-man ng mga thread, “ako na, sasakyan ko, sige ipasundo iyon, pababain sa bus sa stop na ito, magdala na kaagad ng substitute.” Importante iyon, eh, iyong may konduk—iyong somebody is there. Somebody is there to make sure that all moving parts are in sync. It doesn’t have to be. Kasi if I’m indisposed, iyong chief-of-staff ko si USec. Boyet, siya iyong ganiyan. Pero there has to be somebody, eh, somebody in charge who can make the call.

     

    PIA MAGALONA: The captain of the ship.

     

    VP LENI: Yes.

     

    CESCA LITTON-KALAW: But when it comes to your team, obviously with all the projects that you guys have undertaken, parang imposible naman na ikaw lahat iyong nagbabantay.

     

    VP LENI: Ay, hindi, Cesca, ako, ako nga, Cesca, ano ako, eh, halimbawa iyong shuttle nga, sasabihin ko gusto ko ganito mangyari, sila na hahanap ng paraan. Kaya it pays if your team is better than you, eh. If the people working with you are better than you, parang it benefits you, eh.

     

    CESCA LITTON-KALAW: How hard was it surrounding yourself with the right people for your team, considering na iyon na nga, iyong resulta nakikita mo na isip mo, you know what you want to happen pero the implementation is an entirely different story na hindi siya mangyayari without the right people. So for you, ano iyong vetting process mo?

     

    VP LENI: Oo, at saka ako rin, parang iyong sa akin, iyong kailangan may isang tao na alam niya lahat kung ano iyong nangyayari even if she’s not the one doing them. I think iyon iyong nakakatulong na maging whole-of-government approach rather than—kasi halimbawa, with Bayanihan E-Konsulta, there are so many—it’s a very complicated network of teams, pero there has to be one person, eh. There has to be one person who knows what all the teams are doing. Otherwise, they will be working in silos and ang effect talaga, hindi okay.

     

    GOYO LARRAZABAL: How do you—okay, you have a lot of young, energetic staff, people who work with you, Ma’am, ano, and for you. How do you recruit them? How do you get them to help you or how do you vet these people?

     

    VP LENI: Alam mo, Goyo, believe it or not, I’m not part of the hiring. Parang I don’t have a say. I don’t have a say in the hiring and promotion of people. I purposely decided that I will not be part of that team para hindi political iyong appointments kasi siyempre it can’t be helped, may mga makikiusap, ‘di ba, makikiusap ng mga kakilala, mga political supporters na ipasok ito. Ako, not one person ang dumaan sa akin. So most of the unit heads, sila talaga iyong pumipili ng members of the team. Sila iyong nagre-recruit, there’s a panel that does the interviews, there’s a hiring and promotions board, it stops with my chief-of-staff USec. Boyet. Nalalaman ko na lang kung sino iyong na-appoint kapag magko-courtesy call na sa akin during their first day of work. Pero I don’t make pakialam with that.

     

    Ang ano lang talaga, may say lang ako sa recruitment, iyong pagpasok ko. Iyong pagpasok ko. Halimbawa may choice of my chief-of-staff, ako iyon. Ako iyon. Kasi si USec. Boyet was with my husband before. He was also the chief-of-staff of my husband. Very, very young, iyon, pinili ko siya. Pero karamihan sa downlines halimbawa, choice of our assistant secretary, si USec. Boyet na iyong pumili. Iyong pag-place ng mga—parang we run it in a very professional manner, iyong pag-assign ng mga tao sa units, I don’t have a say on that. So paminsan, kapag may nakikiusap sa akin na kakilala, sinasabi ko iyong proseso pero I always tell them na, “pasensya na, na iyong matutulong ko lang is to give you the requirements pero I’m not part of the hiring and the decision-making.” And I think it’s for the best—I feel like an office works more efficiently if it’s run professionally.

     

    GOYO LARRAZABAL: Exactly, you’re running it efficiently because you’re expecting people to perform a job then they qualify, they make the requirements, and you expect them to perform well, not because kamag-anak or kaibigan or recommended, but because they’re fit for the job.

     

    VP LENI: Ako, Goyo, there were a handful of them who were in my campaign, who helped me during the campaign, and USec. Boyet is one of them. He headed my policy team during the campaign. Some of those who helped me during the campaign are here. There are a handful of them. Pero that was the only thing. Parang from 2016 until now, not one person ang dumaan sa akin to get hired. And para sa akin we attempt to be very professional about everything we’re doing here. Treating our employees right. Marami kami ritong ginagawa for our employees, for our staff. Iyong pinaka-una naming objective when I started my work here was to have the office ISO certified and we received our ISO certification a year after I first—I assumed office. So, I assumed office on 2016, 2017 mayroon na kaming ISO. We do recertification every year. Iyong COA [rating] namin unqualified opinion for two straight years already. Ano, Goyo, it’s something that we worked really hard on, especially because iyong capital namin sa ginagawa namin is integrity and trust eh, ‘di ba? Kasi we work with a lot of private partners and no one will work with us kung hindi naman kami katiwa-tiwala.

     

    PIA MAGALONA: Ramdam na ramdam natin iyong pride talaga ni Ma’am Leni ‘no sa mga tao niya, and that’s the way to go. Iyan din iyong ina-advocate namin dito sa—register to vote is kung paano pumili, as mentioned earlier, ‘wag ibase sa personality kung hindi sa kakayanan ng taong iyon na mag-serve sa taong bayan, ano? And on that note, sinasabi rin namin na do you agree with us, Ma’am Leni, isang adbokasiya namin dito is kailangan kayo as citizens, nakakausap ninyo iyong representative ninyo at ine-encourage namin na kausapin natin iyong representatives natin, iyong mga… may kakayahan sila [na] makipagusap rin sa atin kahit na anong level yan sa government. Are we right on that, ano?

     

    VP LENI: Ako, definitely, Pia kasi sa akin... Kasi ako, alam mo naman iyong work ko before, I was really working with communities, and I think I’ve benefited a lot as a public servant because of that past experience, na tingin ko mas attuned ako sa nararamdaman ng aking constituents and kapag mas attuned ka, iyong iniisip mong mga programa mas responsive eh. So sa akin lang, it’s not—kasi marami naman public officials lalo iyong lokal, marami naman na bumababa naman talaga on the ground pero I think nag-ma-matter din kasi, Goyo iyong quality ng engagement kasi halimbawa, maraming bumababa sa ground na mayroon events. Bababa siya, mag-gue-guest siya sa mga events.

     

    Ako, alam mo, halos buong buhay ko as a public servant—mula Congressman ako hanggang ngayon na VP—halos wala kaming events. Meaning to say kapag bumababa kami sa ground, wala kaming program. Wala kaming—

     

    GOYO LARRAZABAL: But you reach out.

     

    VP LENI: Puwera na lang kung kami iyong imbitado pero if it’s our activity, when we go down and visit communities, it’s really talking in their most natural habitat. Halimbawa, kapag ang pupuntahan namin mga magsasaka, hindi kami mag-e-event sa isang covered court. Pupunta kami kung saan sila nagsasaka, mase-spend kami ng time doon. Hindi rushed. Iyong hindi kami nagmamadali tapos walang maraming mga tao. Walang media na magko-cover kasi kapag nag-cover, hindi naman sa masama iyong media pero kapag nag-cover na kasi iyong media, minsan hindi na natural. Hindi na natural iyong, alam mo iyon, kausap mo sila, may camera na nakatutok sa iyo, parang masyadong scripted na iyong mga salita.

     

    So sa amin, requirement ko iyon. Requirement ko sa mga nag-a-advance. Halimbawa, kapag bababa kasi ako on the ground, ni-re-require nila na mag-advance at least iyong security. So sa akin, I had a very difficult time adjusting to that, kasi nasanay ako na noong Congressman ako, basta lang ako mag-a-appear kung saan. Minsan kagigising lang ng mga tao nandoon na ako sa dining room nila, makiki-breakfast. You know, kahit medyo istorbo iyon, people appreciate that eh. They appreciate that kasi they feel you are within their reach.

     

    PIA MAGALONA: Correct.

     

    VP LENI: Parang hindi ka Congressman [na] andoon ka sa pedestal. Hindi iyon eh. Dapat mas importante sa tao na—actually iyong na-prove ko sa amin, Goyo, kasi ikaw nasa COMELEC ka before ‘di ba, iyong alam na alam natin na we need money to win in elections ‘di ba. Pero sa akin noong tumakbo ako noon 2013, walang wala talaga ako. And I was running against a very well entrenched political dynasty. Hindi ako nagkaroon ni-isang rally kasi namamahalan ako sa arkila ng sounds system. Kaya tyinagaan ko iyong bahay-bahay.

     

    Sa amin, mayroong gagastos ka for last hour, ako wala naman akong ganyan eh. Iyong mga kumakampi sa akin na leaders mismo dahil nasanay din sa isang kalakaran, nagpaparinig nang nagpaparinig sa akin, nagbibingi-bingihan na lang ako kasi wala akong ibibigay.

     

    Pero alam mo iyong na-prove ko doon, iyong tao hindi talaga pera iyong pinaka-driving force niya to vote for the particular person eh. Iyong tao mas pinapahalagahan niya na kilala ko siya nang personal eh, puwede ko siya ma-text anytime. Na kapag nangailangan ako puwede ko siya lapitan anytime. Magkaibigan kami. Alam mo ‘yon? Namana ko iyon sa asawa ko. Kasi that’s his kind of politics. Dahil very personal iyong relationship, it does not just help you govern better pero it also helps you win elections eh. Without having to spend so much.

     

    GOYO LARRAZABAL: And your feet are on the ground so you know the sentiment of the people. Iyong sinasabi mo nga, Ma’am, eh parang there’s already a relationship kaya sasabihin nila—diyan—you’re having dinner ‘di ba, “Diyan kumain si VP Robredo. Kumain siya dito that time ‘di ba? Ito iyong kinain niya.” Sobrang you endear yourself to them, it becomes a deeper relationship with you and the voters ‘di ba? Tama po iyon ‘no?

     

    VP LENI: So ako, Goyo, halimbawa, when I ran, noong tumakbo ako for the very first time, incumbent iyong pamilyang kinakalaban ko, kamamatay lang ng asawa ko, wala akong kakampi. My district then was Naga plus seven towns, 186 barangays lahat iyon. Alam mo iyong kakampi ko lang ay isang mayor, Mayor ng Naga. Iyong mayor ng seven towns kontra sa akin. Iyong kakampi ko lang na kapitan, 25 of the 186. Iyon nga eh, wala akong big rallies, bahay-bahay lang talaga ako pero I won by a landslide. Noong nakaupo na ako, kahit hindi ako tinulungan kapag pupunta ako sa lugar niya, dinadaanan ko muna iyong kapitan. Hindi ko iyon kakampi ah. Pupuntahan ko siya sa bahay nila at sasabihin ko, “Kap, bibisita ako diyan, kung saan. Samahan mo naman ako.” So kahit ayaw niya sa akin, sinasamahan niya ako. Kapag sinamahan na niya ako siguro na-fa-find out na niya na hindi naman pala ito masamang tao.

     

    PIA MAGALONA: Nakikilala ka niya.

     

    VP LENI: Matapos iyong term ko, kakampi ko lahat. Parang no bad blood. Kaya para sa akin, the reason why I’m saying this is posible naman eh. Posible naman to win elections without spending too much. Posible rin na kapag nakaupo ka na, hindi na politika ang asikasuhin. Kasi I have seen very bad politics where I came from, na iyong away ng mga magkakakampi talagang resbakan, nagre-resbakan sa mga supporters, and hindi talaga siya nakakatulong. Kaya ko ito shine-share kasi I think it should also influence the way we engage with our public officials, to demand from them a certain kind of service kasi nakikita ko din na mayroon sa amin na most of the time wala naman doon, alam mo iyon uuwi lang kapag mayroong event pero hindi naman talaga nakikipaghalubilo in a very ordinary kind of way. And I think, for local officials, that’s a must eh.

     

    GOYO LARRAZABAL: Exactly, tama po iyon.

     

    CESCA LITTON-KALAW: Ma’am Leni, when you are talking about going door to door obviously it’s more feasible to local government iyong tinatakbuhan mo. How were you able to translate that to national politics na nararamdaman pa rin ng mga tao na accessible ka?

     

    VP LENI: Ako actually, Cesca, I would have to admit to you na napakahirap for me. With a kind of politics of I know of, napakahirap sa akin nung national. And ang nakatulong sa akin na Liberal Party at that time is one of the biggest parties kasi administration party. Iyon iyong nag-provide sa akin ng platform na— Wala naman akong kakilalang local officials, kaya naman ako inaasikaso ng local officials kasi admin candidate ako, alam mo iyon? To a very large extent, it was because of the party na nagkaroon ako ng ganoon na platform.

     

    Siguro iyong contribution ko, iyong value added, kasi halimbawa iyong party will make a schedule for us, for the entire team: President, Vice President, mga senador. Halimbawa may schedule kami na 7 in the morning until 7 in the evening. Ako pumupuslit pa ako. After 7 in the evening, kung saan mayroon akong puntahan, punta pa rin ako nang punta kahit kaunti iyong tao. So I think nakuha ko rin iyon from my orientation before na it was very personal.

     

    Ang gusto kong sabihin noon, I don’t mind going to places where ang audience is very limited. I don’t mind going to places na kaunti lang ang tao kasi I enjoy it, eh. Hinahanap ng katawan ko kasi it was a kind of politics that I was exposed to because of my husband. Kaya iyon iyong value added ko doon sa naibigay ng party. Pero iyong pagpapakilala, iyong pag-support ng local officials it was really because of the party. Iyong sa akin, iyon nga, I think it helped na bagong mukha rin ako. Kasi sa mga bagong mukha siyempre ang dating sa tao, fresh. Gustong sabihin na people are still interested to listen to what you’re saying. Siguro dahil hindi naman ako nasanay na magplatika sa stage, when I speak—actually, ang daming criticism to the way I speak kasi hindi talaga pang-platika iyong speech ko. So when I speak, it really comes from the heart. It’s really talking about my story. It’s really talking about the struggles I had to endure, and people relate to that. So sa akin, it was really different things but mainly talaga namang nakilala ako because of the party, and ano talaga iyon, iyon iyong reality. Having said that, kaniya-kaniya rin kasi ng style eh—and ako talaga, I would have to admit, hirap ako, hirap ako sa national when you need media. You need media, you need many well-established organizations to help you.

     

    Sa akin, actually ang campaign manager ko before, si Bam. Bam was my campaign manager, and parati kaming may discussion kasi pinapagalitan ako ni Bam na I still go to these small gatherings at night when I should be resting already. Kasi parang sinasabi ni Bam, “I don’t want my candidate to face the media na sobrang haggard.” Parang iniisip niya na baka dahil kulang ako sa tulog hindi ako makasagot nang maayos. He wants me to perform well in debates and I can’t do that if I’m so tired already. Matigas din iyong ulo ko eh.

     

    GOYO LARRAZABAL: It worked, it worked.

     

    VP LENI: Totoo, totoo. It worked naman.

     

    GOYO LARRAZABAL: Ma’am, I have to tell you na sometimes it’s actually better to talk to a small group of people where you can really interact with them as compared to stage with five to 10,000 people na ang pinagiisipan ng mga tao doon, “Saan ako kakain after?” They would be on their phone ‘di ba, but if you talked to 100 or 50 people, 20 people or even 10 people, you [can] see their eyes eh. You see the connection.

     

    PIA MAGALONA: At saka they can talk to you also.

     

    VP LENI: Pero alam mo, Goyo, ano kasi eh, iyong reality kasi ng National, you can only visit so much. There are only how many months—there are only 60 days ba? Tama ba?

     

    GOYO LARRAZABAL: 90 days, Ma’am.

     

    VP LENI: Ayon, there are only 90 days to go around the country. Talagang ano, talagang physically impossible. Pero alam mo I was the one national candidate who was able to go to the most number of places.

     

    CESCA LITTON-KALAW: Kakapagod!

     

    VP LENI: Kaladkarin ako by nature.

     

    PIA MAGALONA: Eh kasi nga, hindi siya tumitigil talaga.

     

    VP LENI: Eh kasi hindi ako namimili. Hindi ako namimili ng—Halimbawa, tapos na rin ang eleksyon so hindi na ito strategy. Halimbawa, iyong pag-strategize ng campaign, I go where the province is considered a media center. Siguro si Goyo alam ito, mayroong mga ganoon eh. I’m not even familiar with it until now. “Do not anymore go sa places na kaunti lang ang botante, na ‘wag mo na iyon puntahan kasi nagsasayang ka lang ng oras.” Pero ako, siguro dahil lokal kasi ang orientation ko eh, kasi I was wife to my husband for so long and he was a mayor so iyong orientation ko ganoon. So ako, on the side, parang local candidate ako and I found my happiness there.

     

    GOYO LARRAZABAL: Masaya iyon!

     

    VP LENI: Masaya talaga! Napapagalitan ako kasi makulit talaga ako. Kasi alam mo iyon, iyong feeling ng more seasoned political players, I’m wasting my time kasi kaunti lang naman ang boto doon. Mas mabuti pang many—anong tawag doon? Airtime? Maraming airtime tapos magpapa-interview ako sa phone patch sa maraming istasyon. Pero sa akin ano eh, I would have to admit na parang parusa iyon sa akin kasi hindi ko siya—noong campaign, hindi ko siya na-e-enjoy kasi alam mo iyon, nasa telepono ka tapos iyong mga tinatanong ng iba’t ibang radio station pare-pareho.

     

    GOYO LARRAZABAL: Yes po, tama po.

     

    VP LENI: Tapos wala kang human interaction. So, ako, tumitigas iyong ulo ko kapag ganyan na “sinabi na ngang ganito tapos hindi mo ginawa, pumunta ka doon sa isang lugar na parang would not make a lot of difference.” Pero sa akin kasi it was also a balancing act between what i felt I needed to do and what others said I needed to do.

     

    GOYO LARRAZABAL: At the end of the day…

     

    PIA MAGALONA: Ma’am Leni… Sorry, sorry. I wanna get this ano… I might forget. Kasi I was excited lang na iyong Office of the Vice President, parang nitong pandemic, and I’m speaking of the Office of the Vice President ha, parang nag-ano, nandiyan siya nung nagkaroon tayo ng pandemic, and then parang hindi alam ng tao kung ano ang gagawin. Starting… sa akin, ha, ang unang tumatak sa akin, iyong nagkaroon ng shuttle. When everything was just like, lockdown, bawal lumabas lahat and everything, pero sabi ng tao, paano nga kami makaka ano… So that was the first thing na nag impress sa akin. Tapos sunud-sunod na nga iyong ibang programa. So dahil doon, natatakan, doon ko na-realize natatakan si Ma’am Leni ng title na “Busy Presidente.” ‘Di ba? So I think, kasi nga, kinukwento niya ngayon, ayaw talaga niyang tumigil. Kumbaga kay Road Runner, ‘di ba? Ganiyan siya. So I wanna ask you, Ma’am Leni, aside from this, every day lang that comes along, basta trabaho ka lang nang trabaho, you’re just doing kung ano iyong dumating na case na kailangan i-address, ‘di ba as you said earlier. So, at the same time, diyan ba dumadating din iyong pag-iisip mo na kung tatakbo ka ulit, or gusto mo ng pwesto sa government ulit? Kasi nakita mo naman na nakakatulong ka talaga sa citizenship, sa citizenry, ‘di ba? So para sa akin, gusto ko ng mga ganiyang klaseng tao in office na may ginagawa. Kasi gusto lang naman talaga namin, magtrabaho rin ng sarili naming trabaho. So ayaw namin iyong kailangan pa naming tutukan iyong gobyerno na, “hoy inaalagaan niyo ba iyong ano namin, kapakanan namin?” ‘Di ba? Hindi naman kami humihingi actually. Gusto lang namin na merong rules kaming sundin. So, at the same time, dahil nga kayo ay tinatawag na “Busy Presidente”, as in “busy”, sobrang busy. So at the same time, nakikita niyo ba na gusto niyo pa ring mag hold ng office in the next ano…?

     

    VP LENI: Ako… ako, Pia, iyong sigurado ko lang na gusto ko pa din na public service related, whether elected, whether appointed, iyon lang ang sigurado ko at this point. Iyon lang ang sigurado ko at this point. Ang default sa akin, iyong pag run ng presidente, siguro dahil vice president ako ngayon. Kapag sinabi kong default, that’s what people expect me to do. And ako, sasabihin ko, ano naman ako, iyong sense of duty ko naman mataas. Ang gusto ko sabihin, hindi ko papairalin iyong personal na gusto ko. Halimbawa, gusto ko na magpahinga—talagang gusto ko magpahinga, talagang iyong mga anak ko, gusto nila, mas marami na akong oras sa kanila. Pero again, ako, iyong sense of duty ko naman mataas.

     

    PIA MAGALONA: Yeah.

     

    VP LENI: Kung kailangan, gagawin. Pero ngayon kasi, Pia, and I think it’s— Marami sa aking sa mga supporters, iyon iyong hindi nakikita na maraming realities that we have to contend with. Halimbawa, sa mga nakakakilala sa akin, perhaps, ang tingin nila, ako iyong pinaka most qualified. Hindi naman iyon maaalis, ‘di ba, kasi supporters, siguro alam iyong ginagawa mo, pero ang reality kasi, Pia, and the surveys showed that, hindi ganun kadaming tao iyong alam iyong ginagawa namin. So maraming tao ang hindi appreciative of me. Halimbawa na lang, maraming surveys actually na nagsasabing “ay ayaw ko diyan kay VP Leni”. Kapag tinanong “bakit ayaw mo sa kaniya”, “kasi wala naman iyang nagagawa.” Ang dami pang taong ganyan. Ang daming taong ganyan. So…

     

    PIA MAGALONA: Hindi kaya trolls lang iyon?

     

    VP LENI: Para sa akin, iyong mga nakakaalam ng ginagawa ko, parang sasabihin, “walang ginagawa?” Pero ang reality kasi ganoon eh. Ang dami pa ding hindi nakakaalam. And I think it’s because of the political atmosphere.

     

    PIA MAGALONA: Yeah.

     

    GOYO LARRAZABAL: Yes, that’s true.

     

    VP LENI: [technical lag]—ang social media, ng disinformation…

     

    PIA MAGALONA: Oo.

     

    VP LENI: ‘Di ba, meron tayong popular saka populist leaders… ano talaga eh, marami talaga, iyong parang may haze sa ibang realities na nangyayari. And it’s something we contend with.

     

    PIA MAGALONA: Pero fake news iyon ha, na walang ginagawa. Sobrang…

     

    VP LENI: Alam mo, alam mo, Pia, when the survey started coming in na sinasabing wala akong ginagawa, lahat dito sa opisina parang offended.

     

    PIA MAGALONA: Yes. Oo.

     

    VP LENI: Kasi mga tao nga dito hindi na nagpapahinga. Halimbawa, ngayon lang Bayanihan E-Konsulta, ang duty ko, gabi. Ako iyong nagma-man ng emergency thread namin sa gabi. Tutulog ako mga alas dos, alas tres, alas kwatro ng umaga. Tapos sasabihin ng tao, wala akong ginagawa. Pero again, hindi naman kasalanan ng tao eh. Alam mo iyon… parang kasalanan siya… parang ano siya, produkto ng sistema na...

     

    PIA MAGALONA: Correct.

     

    VP LENI: And I think contributory din kami. Contributory kami in a sense na very naive kami at first, na when the fake news started coming, when the disinformation started coming in 2016, we did not respond accordingly. Ang feeling namin noon, the best way—and we were wrong, ako mismo—the best way was not to dignify. Mali pala iyon.

     

    PIA MAGALONA: Yes.

     

    GOYO LARRAZABAL: Oo.

     

    VP LENI: Mali pala iyon, kasi dapat pala, we confronted each fake news with the truth immediately. Kasi nung hindi namin kinonfront, ang daming taong naniwala eh. Pag tiningnan mo ngayon…

     

    GOYO LARRAZABAL: Ma’am…

     

    VP LENI: —iyong narrative na pino-propound ng kabila, iyon iyong nasa isip ng maraming tao. So sa akin, may kasalanan din kami. And ano talaga iyon, it’s something that we realized siguro mga late 2018. Nung 2019 we started responding already, pero again meron na kasing… parang may nabuo nang nasa isip ng tao eh.

     

    GOYO LARRAZABAL: May mindset na silang “ganito ito”. But I have to tell you ha, last 2020, after I think Ulysses and Rolly hit the Philippines, I went to Catanduanes, Isabela, Cagayan and some other provinces in Bicol, Ma’am sa lahat ng napuntahan ko—

     

    VP LENI: Galing na ako.

     

    GOYO LARRAZABAL: Galing ka na doon. As in, I asked, “sino pumupunta dito?” Lahat sinasabi nila, galing ka na doon. But obviously the general public doesn’t know about it because hindi nabalita. But when you talk to the people on the ground, they know you went there. So…

     

    VP LENI: Oo, pero ang problema no’n, Goyo, ano talaga, siguro dahil combination din ng naive ako sa pulitika. Number two, medyo matigas din iyong ulo ko. Kasi halimbawa, alam ko naman na ang kagawian, if you’re a national official, bago ka pa lang dumating, alam na ng tao na dadating ka.

     

    GOYO LARRAZABAL: Oo.

     

    VP LENI: ‘Di ba, may welcome, may welcome tarps, may convoy na susundo sa iyo, magpapa interview ka sa mga local stations. That’s the drill.

     

    GOYO LARRAZABAL: May checklist po iyan eh.

     

    VP LENI: Pero ako kasi, ayaw ko talaga eh. Matagal namin iyang pinag-awayan dito sa office. Na rule ko, iyong mga nag-a-advance sa akin, nagme-make sure na walang magha-hang ng tarps welcoming me. Kasi para sa akin, sayang sa pera.

     

    PIA MAGALONA: Yeah.

     

    GOYO LARRAZABAL: Yeah.

     

    VP LENI: May nakakalusot paminsan-minsan. Pero 95% of the time, talagang walang tarps. It’s not because ayaw ko naman paalamin na nandoon ako. Pero kapag minsan kasi parang nadi-diminish iyong intent. Nadi-diminish iyong intent na pupunta ka para makatulong, pero dahil… Pupunta ka para makatulong tapos iyong pupuntahan mo, siya pa iyong na-bother mo.

     

    GOYO LARRAZABAL: Yes.

     

    PIA MAGALONA: Oo.

     

    VP LENI: Kasi ang dami mong request na gagawin. Parang sa akin… So hindi talaga iyon ine-establish. Ang gusto kong sabihin, we’re everywhere. Pero people don’t know, except those who saw us. Siyempre very limited iyon.

     

    GOYO LARRAZABAL: At saka iyong natulungan mo, know about it. At the end of the day, if you’re in public service, that’s what really matters—makatulong ka sa mga tao. iyon talaga.

     

    VP LENI: Ako, ako, sa totoo lang, Goyo, para sa akin, sabi ko—kasi may nagsabi sa akin nito, and ako, I’m a bit offended. Mayroong nagsabi na supporter na... ine-mail niya iyong isang family ko, member of my family, na parang pinapa-guilty niya ako kung aayaw ako mag-run na presidente. Parang iyong pagkasabi niya, na sabihan daw ako na at the end of my life, na magre-regret ako na hindi ako tumakbo and tinalikuran ko iyong tao. Parang sa loob-loob ko lang, bawat posisyon na hinawakan ko, I made every second that was given to me count.

     

    GOYO LARRAZABAL: Exactly.

     

    VP LENI: Ang gusto ko sabihin, kahit iyong three years ko sa Congress, wala akong sinayang na oras. And itong vice presidency, kahit hindi ako mag presidente, masasabi ko na I made every second, every minute of the time given to me worth people’s money, no matter how little our budget is. So ako, sigurado akong wala akong pagsisisihan.

     

    Pero alam mo, iyon nga eh, marami kasing… marami din akong supporters na hindi nakikita iyong tunay na sitwasyon. Parang it’s so easy na “magdesisyon ka na ngayon.” Pero hindi iyon eh, it’s not about gusto ko bang maging presidente o hindi. Pero siyempre pag-aaralan mo iyong sitwasyon. Would a run be feasible? Baka naman iyong contribution ko makipagtulungan nalang na magkaisa lahat. Di ba, parang these are the things that I’m, parang I’m considering before making a decision. Parang it’s not, it’s not that easy. Hindi naman, hindi naman iyong pagpe-presidente hindi naman ito ambisyon.

     

    GOYO LARRAZABAL: Tama po iyan.

     

    VP LENI: Iyong pagpe-presidente isang napakaseryosong bagay, na kahit tumatakbo ka palang nag ppromise ka na na for the next six years of your life, iyong bansa talaga iyong aasikasuhin mo. Alam mo yun, hindi siya ganon kadali e.

     

    GOYO LARRAZABAL: Tama po iyan.

     

    VP LENI: Siyempre. Ito daw sakit daw ito ng mga babae, sabi nung nabasa ko isang expert, na iyong babae daw may tendency na i-underestimate iyong sarili niya. Pero alam mo iyon, nafefeel mo na, “maraming mas mahusay naman sa akin, bakit ako?” So ang daming, ang daming-

     

    GOYO LARRAZABAL: I’ve seen your work, I’ve seen what you’ve done. I’ve seen what you’ve done, I’ve seen going around the Philippines Ma’am. I’ve seen what you’ve done. Tahimik lang iyan pero marami ka pong natulungan. I attest to that po.

     

    VP LENI: Thank you. Thank you, Goyo. Ano naman, alam mo, whether I run or not, I am sure that at the end of our term in 2022, I can honestly say na parang I did the best that I could. I transformed the office from—iyong mga staff namin dito are very happy with what they’re doing kahit sobrang busy sila. In fact, in many of our, mayroon kaming regular, regular monthly general assembly, parati ko sa kanilang sinasabi na iyong dream ko for them na, na iyong… iyong reputation nila na dahil nasa Office of the Vice President sila, pag-aagawan sila ng tao. Ang gusto ko sabihin, marami naman iyong nandito sa amin, hindi hanggang retirement, pero dumaan lang, alam mo nagtry lang ng government service, sabi ko ang dream ko sa inyo, pag nagdecide kayo to venture into other fields, kapag nakita ng inaaplyan niyo na nangggaling kayo ng OVP, sasabihin ay, “OVP to, mahusay ito.”

     

    GOYO LARRAZABAL: Maganda iyan.

     

    VP LENI: ‘Di ba.

     

    PIA MAGALONA: I wanna—

     

    GOYO LARRAZABAL: Sorry. It’s just like working for a Supreme Court ustice. Pag dating mo doon after you clerk for a Supreme Court Justice when you go to other private practice, sobrang ganda na ng resumé mo.

     

    VP LENI: ‘Di ba?

     

    PIA MAGALONA: Yes.

     

    VP LENI: Sa akin naman, sa akin iyon iyon eh. Halimbawa, kung private akong tao, gusto kong tumulong, top of mind na kaagad iyong OVP. Top of mind na iyong OVP, sigurado nila na mapapapunta kung saan nilang gustong makarating iyong tulong. So, sa akin, if only for that—and you know converting the office from a ceremonial one into an advocacy heavy one. Ako wala akong regrets eh. Ang gusto kong sabihin, on one hand para sa akin iyong pagpe-presidente kasi is destiny.

     

    PIA MAGALONA: Yes. Correct.

     

    VP LENI: No matter how hard you work para maatim mo iyon, kung hindi talaga iyon para sa iyo, hindi para sa iyo. That’s the more fatalistic side of me. Pero iyong sa akin... para sa akin kung ano magagawa ko ngayon, what ever I can do now, whether mandato ko iyon o hindi, basta I have a chance to contribute, parati naman akong 100%.

     

    PIA MAGALONA: I really want to take this opportunity. Na ipaalam rin, ganito iyong pag-mindset. Hindi si mismong Miss Leni Robredo ang hinahangaan ko, pero iyong—hindi iyong personality, pero iyong nabuo niyang Office of the Vice President. Ganyan ako tumingin even noong ano—all of these are there para respetuhin natin itong mga office na ito. Symbols iyan para sa atin. So kung ano iyong ginagawa nilang trabaho, inilalabas nila, dyan tayo humahanga, dyan tayo kumakapit, diba, so I want to take this opportunity para pasalamatan ka, Bise Presidente Leni Robredo.

     

    VP LENI: Thank you.

     

    PIA MAGALONA: And because ang Office of the Vice President talaga iyan, dyan kami, ano. And sorry pero nagiging emotional talaga ako kasi it really gives hope para sa amin. Iyong mga pag—

     

    VP LENI: And you’ve been helping us also, Pia.

     

    PIA MAGALONA: Na aano talaga ako kasi, oo. Thank you so much na ganyan nga, very humble, kapag ano, nagre-reach out sila kung sinong gustong tumulong. Kung mayroon kang way na para tumulong, ganyan talaga and I think that’s the Filipino spirit and the Filipino culture talaga, bayanihan totohanin natin iyan,  ano. Na parang kung kaya mo, huwag kang tititngin. Hindi—it’s not about, kapag ano, na aano talaga ako kapag sinasabing dilawan ka, wala kaming tinitignan kasing ganon e, never ever ever talaga. Hindi sa personality, ang tinitignan namin, iyong kakayahan ng tao. Kung paano siya. And I can—I don’t want to name others any more. Pero meron akong hinahangaan hanggang ngayon na kahit na may nagsasabi sa kanila ng, try to bring them down, meron silang naachieve then e, in their past hold ng office. Tignan natin iyong mga naaachieve ng mga tao. Hindi sa personality ‘yan, pero kung anong nagawa nilang trabaho. Hindi yan sa pwesto, hindi yan sa pwesto o sa title mo, hindi yan dyaan. Pero kung ano yung-

     

    VP LENI: At saka ano naman talaga Pia, whatever the office has achieved, it’s not because of me. It’s not because of me, but it’s because of the many people who are contributing whatever they can. And I’m just not referring to OVP staff, kasi ang dami namin talagang nagagawa because of the help of many people like you. Halimbawa si Pia, hindi ko alam, Goyo and Cesca, if you know, that Pia volunteered. She was one of our talents. We produced videos, we produced instructional videos for parents and teachers to help them transition to online learning.

     

    PIA MAGALONA: Online.

     

    GOYO LARRAZABAL: Galing, galling

     

    VP LENI: And Pia was one of those who volunteered her talents, Saab also. Pati iyong mga nagproduce nung mga videos are ad agencies, creatives. Lahat iyan ano ha, lahat yan volunteers.

     

    GOYO LARRAZABAL: Galing ah.

     

    VP LENI: And we would not have been able to produce them, if not for these people, so talagang when you talk of iyong achievements, I do not claim to have achieved them. Kasi ako I’m just one of the many people who are making these happen.

     

    CESCA LITTON-KALAW: And at the end of the day, the work speaks for itself.

     

    PIA MAGALONA: Iyon nga.

     

    GOYO LARRAZABAL: Yes.

     

    CESCA LITTON-KALAW: Kahit na hindi siya nababalita, kahit na hindi kalat sa buong Pilipinas iyong mga nangyayari. There are groups of people who can attest what you have done for them.

     

    VP LENI: Thank you, Cesca.

     

    CESCA LITTON-KALAW: And we know that you—we are so grateful that you took the time to join us here today. Ma’am Leni, I know that especially during the pandemic, mas… mas marami ka pang programang na-launch, you had a job listing program as well, to help the people who became unemployed during the pandemic, you had the e-Konsulta, iyong teleconsult mo. Are there any other programs that you have in the works, or maybe have flown under the radar that you would like people to know about?

     

    VP LENI: Kami right now, we’re slowly going back to our communities. The communities we’ve been helping in Angat Buhay, with our Angat Buhay program, in fact right now, this is non-COVID related, we have a team in Eastern Samar, because we have a lot of programs in Eastern Samar. We have programs in Marawi, in Basilan, in Sultan Kudarat, in Lanao del Sur, Bukidnon, so marami kaming mga community programs here. Right now, some members of our team, are slowly going back to these programs, pero about half of the OVP is immersed still with COVID-19 response initiatives. The ones we’re doing in Metro Manila, hindi lang iyon Bayanihan e-Konsulta, pero as Cesca mentioned earlier, we have a program also called Bayanihanapbuhay and Bayanihanapbuhay is all about livelihood. So there are many components there. Iyong isa nga iyong Sikap.ph it’s a jobs matching platform for blue-collar workers. There are about—

     

    GOYO LARRAZABAL: Sikap.ph

     

    VP LENI: Sikap.ph. There are about 27,000 jobs available there.

     

    GOYO LARRAZABAL: Wow, that’s a lot.

     

    VP LENI: Iyong pangalawa is called iskaparate.com. It’s an online platform for small entrepreneurs who do not have the capacity to have online presence. So iyon iyong pangalawa.

     

    Iyong pangatlo naman TrabaHOPE, ang TrabaHOPE naman is for out of school youth. Itong TrabaHOPE were partnering with USAID and the Philippine Business for Education. Ito naman parang internship program pero mayroong sweldo. These are for out of school youth.

     

    And then we have sustainable livelihood and training programs, ito naman for groups and for individuals. Mga alam mo iyon, mga barbecue vendors, mga nagtitinda, mga… iyong mga malilit. We do not only give financial grants, but we also do an entire training program for them. So dito mayroong mga TODA, mayroong mga nanay sa bahay. So, these are the things that we are doing aside from bayani—iyong Bayanihan e-Konsulta. 

     

    As I’ve said, were starting in Puerto Princesa this week, last— Two weeks ago, we started in Camarines Sur, because we partnered with the Office of Congressman Bordado, there’s also a version of Bayanihan e-Konsulta there. Tapos ngayon nga itong Puerto Princesa, we’re also looking at some other areas like Negros Oriental where there’s a spike. Iloilo also, we’ve been helping Iloilo because it’s one of our priority provinces. So ano naman, tuloy-tuloy pa din.

     

    We’re also looking at how we can help with vaccination. We’re doing—there has been exploratory talks already with Mayor Isko. ‘Di ba mayroon kaming Swab Cab? Iyong Swab Cab namin iyong mobile lab. Ang hinahanap namin is parang parallel to Swab Cab, we’re calling it Jab Cab.

     

    PIA MAGALONA: [laughter] Jab Cab, yeah. Correct.

     

    GOYO LARRAZABAL: Galing, galing.

     

    VP LENI: We might pilot it kay Mayor Isko. We talked already about it. Ang plano namin, pupuntahan namin iyong mga areas na ang resistance is high, pero kailangan na kailangan ng mga tao. Halimbawa mga, mga ano iyon, mga lugar kung saan kung saan tumatambay iyong mga TODA, iyong mga delivery people.

     

    GOYO LARRAZABAL: Yes, importante iyon.

     

    VP LENI: Iyong mga grocery saka mga market vendors. So, nag-uusap na—nag-uusap na iyong teams namin. We’re exploring how we can roll it out in Manila. We’re doing programs in Malabon, in Pasig with Mayor Vico, in Quezon City with Congressman Kit Belmonte, in Muntinlupa. In Muntinlupa, nandoon pa din iyong Community Mart namin, iyong online mart Muntinlupa Public Market. So, we’re doing many different things.

     

    GOYO LARRAZABAL: That’s a lot. That’s a lot. Lots of programs. That’s a lot of programs.

     

    VP LENI: Pero ano, mahusay kasi talaga iyong team namin. Mahusay iyong team namin. They’ve been—

     

    PIA MAGALONA: Ma’am Leni, if you could also address iyong sa mga seniors na bedridden or it’s too much na for them, they cannot even ride the vehicle. We’ve heard of instances like that dito sa community namin. Na kahit na nag-aano kami, aadvocate for vaccination, hindi talaga physically makalabas so baka may ganoon?

     

    VP LENI: Actually, we’re doing that now pero iyong sa amin mayroon kami ngayong mobile na RT-PCR saka labs. It’s in connection with our Bayanihan e-Konsulta kasi there are patients who cannot go to the hospitals anymore to have their laboratory exams or iyong mga required RT-PCR. We do mobile labs and RT-PCR every Wednesday, so tomorrow mayroon.

     

    PIA MAGALONA: Pero in this case, the vaccine.

     

    VP LENI: Kaya nga. Ang problema lang namin, Pia, sa vaccine, we cannot do it without partnership with the LGU because we don’t have access to supply. Walang paggagalingan iyong vaccine supply. So, if there’s an LGU who’s willing to partner with us, kami very much willing to do the creative part. Meaning to say iyong hindi nakakapunta sa mga traditional—

     

    GOYO LARRAZABAL: You can go there.

     

    VP LENI: Iyon pwede namin iyon puntahan. Pero sabi ko nga, we had initial talks with Mayor Isko already and he was very open to it. So iyong Chief of Staff namin saka iyong assigned niyang tao are already planning.

     

    GOYO LARRAZABAL: Working on it. Okay. Galing.

     

    PIA MAGALONA: Okay. Thank you.

     

    CESCA LITTON-KALAW: Alright, Ma’am Leni. Thank you. We really don’t have the right words to express how grateful we are. We know that you have a very busy schedule ahead of you as well. We hope to have you back on the show one of these days.

     

    GOYO LARRAZABAL: Yes, one of these days, Ma’am, dapat.

     

    PIA MAGALONA: Really.

     

    VP LENI: Parang kulang iyong one hour, ano?

     

    CESCA LITTON-KALAW: Sobrang kulang siya.

     

    PIA MAGALONA: Ginagawa namin part one, part two…

     

    CESCA LITTON-KALAW: Sinabi ko na nga kila Goyo, nahihiya ako to extend kasi alam ko ang dami mong gagawin. Sobrang kulang iyong one hour.

     

    VP LENI: Ako kasi, I have a briefing 14 minutes after this. But if I have more time, I would have been with you. Pero anytime, just tell me.

     

    CESCA LITTON-KALAW: Thank you so much, VP Leni.

     

    PIA MAGALONA: Thank you, thank you, thank you so much.

     

    GOYO LARRAZABAL: We should go to Naga. We should do an episode in Naga.

     

    VP LENI: Yes, yes! Ako, ako, just tell me if you have plans, I’ll arrange it.

     

    GOYO LARRAZABAL: Thank you, Ma’am! Thank you very much.

     

    PIA MAGALONA: Thank you so much.

     

    CESCA LITTON-KALAW: Bye.

     

    VP LENI: Thank you also. Bye.

     

    GOYO LARRAZABAL: Thanks, thanks. Stay healthy, Ma’am.

     

    VP LENI: Ingat kayo ah, ingat.

     

    GOYO LARRAZABAL: Thank you.

     

     

    - 30 -

    Posted in Transcripts on Jun 01, 2021