Interview with Vice President Leni Robredo
CNN Philippines News Night
PIA HONTIVEROS: … on News Night. Good evening, Ma’am and thank you very much for joining us. Let’s begin with this, the pandemic, of course. That is really top of mind. We understand that you don’t like the– or appreciate the government policy of no vaccination, no ride. As a matter of fact, you say what is important is to ramp up vaccination. What we need to do is to inform and incentivize. Can you explain more about that?
VP LENI: Pia, you know Pia we have been having Vaccine Express in many parts of the country and from our experience, hindi kailangan takutan eh. From our experience, kailangan mo lang talaga tiyagaan to educate people. You have to make sure that ‘yung vaccination accessible to them. And pangatlo, talagang to incentivize. I will give you a very specific example. We did a vaccination in Capas, Tarlac for the Aeta community. Before we went, we were already being warned that ayaw ng mga– ayaw ng Aeta community na magpabakuna. Pero when we went, talagang ano, we worked with the local government unit, sinundo sila, nagbigay kami ng mga food packs, nagbigay kami ng mga other incentives. And you know the turnout was very, very good and we have not just done that in Capas. But we have been doing that elsewhere. So, para sa akin dapat sana yung vaccination hindi siya lalabas na paparusahan ka kung hindi ka bakunado. Pero talagang we go out of our way and exert our best effort to really educate, to really bring the vaccination where people are, and provide incentives.
PIA HONTIVEROS: You brought up this issue about bringing the vaccination to people and that is something I remember in late December when I interviewed Charlie Galvez and he was saying that, that could be a logistical challenge for the LGUs in, lalo na sa far, far-flung areas. Can you talk about that?
VP LENI: Totoong logistical challenge, Pia, pero government should not do it alone. Our Vaccine Express initiatives – we were able to do a lot of things because we have been partnering with the private sector. Sa amin, Pia, hindi siya naging mahirap, hindi siya naging mahirap because all our initiatives has really been a collaboration, not just between our office and the private sector but also with the local government unit.
PIA HONTIVEROS: Okay. Ma’am, about a week, was that a week or two weeks ago, I remember you were very upset with allegations on social media that one of your daughters had skipped or you know, cut quarantine, or something or the other. And also after Christmas, before New Year’s, ang daming nagalit doon sa Poblacion girl and yung isa pa ‘no. Pero nakasuhan din naman yung dalawa. The question here is how do, you know, how should we move forward on something like this, when there are well, alleged blatant disregard for the rules? You know, how do we appeal to Filipinos, to our citizens to, you know, parang bang integrity yan eh. Pwede, you know, integrity is what you do even when no one is looking, right?
VP LENI: I— Ito Pia, dapat— dapat natuto tayo from the lessons na ‘yung– ‘yung Poblacion Girl incident gave us. Noong— noong sumabog ‘yun, marami ‘yung naglabasan. Apparently, it has been happening already. So gusto kong sabihin, may problema tayo sa implementation. Kasi ‘yung— ‘yung protocols naman are in place kaya sa akin Pia, kailangan— we should— we should have learned from that lesson kasi it was very costly for us. So— so ‘yung sa ‘kin, halimbawa, ito personal experience, Pia, na ‘yung mga anak ko travelled from the US. Dumating sila on the 20th. Na-swab sila on the 24th, lumabas ‘yung kanilang results on the 25th. Sa tatlo kong anak, isa ‘yung nag-positive. So my daughter was telling me na tinawagan siya ng Bureau of Quarantine, the protocols were explained to her, ang advice sa kanya, isolation facility. So ano naman, klaro. Klaro ‘yung mga protocols so after— after checking out of the hotel, she went straight to the isolation facility and noong nasa isolation facility, merong mga protocols in place. She was still required to— to, ano ‘to, to do home quarantine for another six days. So kung nasusunod lang sana ito, Pia, maayos lahat. Halimbawa ‘yung sa anak ko, walang nahawa— walang nahawa in the family, na-control ‘yung spread of the virus. The main reason why nangyari ‘yung Poblacion Girl incident kasi may— may nagsi-skip ng protocols na kung hindi sumabog, hindi ma— ano ‘to, mare-reveal ‘yung mga gaps in the implementation.
PIA HONTIVEROS: Which is also why kinasuhan na nga several people and— and groups. But Ma’am, my— my last question before we go to a break. You know, if you were to win the election, what is the first thing you would do to address the pandemic on Day One, June 30? You know, minutes after taking your oath, for example, if you were to win.
VP LENI: Ako– ako, Pia, talagang ‘yung pinaka first agenda is freedom from COVID. If we are able to control the transmission of the virus, it will set everything else in motion. So ito ‘yung first major step towards full recovery. And then we need to ensure the availability of jobs and livelihood as we begin to make our way forward in the new normal. I think in– in mid-November, we put out a– our Kalayaan sa COVID Plan already, and in December, we put out our Hanapbuhay Para sa Lahat. It’s available sa lenirobredo.com, and ‘yung sinasabi natin, the core principle of this plan is ensuring that progress is felt in the communities. And really that begins with jobs. ‘Yung– ‘yung kalayaan sa COVID, kabahagi doon ‘yung– ‘yung getting the economy back on its feet, making sure that the healthcare system will be resilient moving forward, and ‘yung education, grabe ‘yung damage to– to the education of our children. Two years na, Pia, two years na na hindi talaga nakakapasok ‘yung marami sa ating mga [audio cut off 07:03]. So ito talagang, ito ‘yung mga– mga priorities natin.
PIA HONTIVEROS: And since elections na ang pinag-uusapan, Ma’am, let’s jump from the pandemic to politics. But we’re going to do that after taking this very short break. Keep it here on CNN Philippines.
[BREAK 07:20 to 08:14]
PIA HONTIVEROS: Welcome back. This is Up Close with presidential aspirant VP Leni Robredo. Ma'am Vice President, I remember the April 2016 CNN Philippines VP Debate, you said, and I paraphrase, I will be the last woman standing. Can you still say that today with two huge factors, a very popular– you know, if you look at the pre-campaign surveys, a very popular Bongbong Marcos and the pandemic. Can you say the same thing right now?
VP LENI: Most definitely, Pia. Unang-una, I am the only woman candidate again just as I was when I ran for the vice presidency and number two, again my record will speak for itself. Ang dami kong pinagdaanan in the last five and a half years that I was Vice President and nakatayo pa din ako ngayon, Pia, at lumalaban pa din.
PIA HONTIVEROS: Is a– in your estimation, is Bongbong Marcos some sort of a teflon candidate kasi parang ang dami nang binato sa kanya ganyan pa rin, nangunguna pa rin sa survey.
VP LENI: Ano kasi Pia, I– it's many different things. Unang-una, 'yung kanyang effort to really revise. To really revise the way people– parang to really– not just history– not just to really revise history pero pabanguhin 'yung– pabanguhin 'yung pagtingin ng tao sa mga Marcoses. 'Yung initiative na to ginawa way way back, even before he ran for the Vice Presidency, and over the years relentless talaga 'yung effort na gawin 'yun and ngayon nire-reap niya 'yung benefit noon. Na-own niya talaga 'yung social media, Pia, in fact it's one of the more difficult challenges that we are facing. Because alam natin sobrang dami nang fake accounts ngayon, alam natin na social media is working on algorithms so nasa-saturate talaga 'yung mga distribution channels na 'yung tao hindi na nabibigyan ng enough na opportunity to really know what is right and what is wrong. So, kailangan doble talaga 'yung effort to make it known to people what is true and what is not.
PIA HONTIVEROS: Do you think– or should he be disqualified or do you want him disqualified because many of those who believe in you and will vote for you want him disqualified for reasons that were used to file those DQ cases against him or the petitions to cancel his COC or do you want to slug it out with him this May 2022? I remember you said– you wanted na, 'yung kalabanin talaga siya.
VP LENI: Ako– ako, Pia, ako, ayokong mag-comment doon sa disqualification case. But if you are– if you were to ask me, mas gusto ko talunin siya sa eleksyon para matapos na ito.
PIA HONTIVEROS: Mas gusto niyong talunin siya sa eleksyon para– ano'ng matapos na ito? Ano 'yung "ito" doon?
VP LENI: 'Yun 'yung narrative kasi, Pia–
PIA HONTIVEROS: Ang narrative–
VP LENI: –kung naaalala mo, 'yun 'yung narrative, kung naaalala mo, noong natalo ko siya sa eleksyon, dahil in-oown niya 'yung social media, ang daming naniniwala na dinaya ko siya, kahit– kahit ilang beses pa ako nanalo sa Supreme Court, ito 'yung narrative na pinu-push niya. So, kailangan talagang talunin siya sa susunod na eleksyon para once and for all, mahinto na 'yung ginagawa niya na pagpapapaniwala sa tao noong narrative na gusto niya i-push.
PIA HONTIVEROS: Are there any regrets, ma'am, a– at this point in time that the four of you– you, Ping Lacson, Isko Moreno, and Manny Pacquiao– didn't get your act together, in a way, or didn't unite, you know, or didn't– hindi kayo nag-solidify?
VP LENI: Ako, I– I would have to admit I was frustrated at first because I was very hopeful. I was very hopeful when I started talking to the many different candidates, na we would unite behind one– one common candidate. Pero regrets, siguro, Pia, hindi. Kasi ako, I exerted all effort. And–
PIA HONTIVEROS: Okay, okay.
VP LENI: –after the talks failed, ako I– to a very large extent, I was successful in– in uniting not the– not the presidential candidates, but the ve– very many groups that are behind our candidacy now. Marami kami– maraming ngayon mga volunteers, Pia, na iba-iba 'yung pinanggalingan. So, sabi ko, if I was net– not able to unite the presidential candidates, at least ito, 'yung tao 'yung sinusubukan natin na i-unite pang lalo.
PIA HONTIVEROS: Pag-usapan natin sandaling sandali lang 'yung kampanya, because, you know, there was this announcement that you have this new campaign slogan. So very briefly, talk about that, but at the same time, talk about that previous effort to, kumbaga, juxtapose you against President Duterte as the Tatay Digong, and then you were going to be the, para bang mother figure, the nanay, the ina. But that didn't work out ba?
VP LENI: 'Yung naging problema namin, when we started, was that we were not prepared for the deluge of volunteers. And noong nag– nagkaroon ng onslaught of volunteers, our first– our first decision was to give them as much elbow room as possible. As much independence as possible to chart the kind of campaign that they want. 'Yun– 'yun sana 'yung– 'yun sana 'yung gusto natin, really, to make it an honest-to-goodness people– people's movement.
Pero 'yung naging problema lang noon, Pia, kasi– dahil iba-iba 'yung pinaggalingan ng mga grupo, iba– kanya-kanya din 'yung messaging na ginagawa. So– so, 'yung "nanay" was a– an initiative of one group, 'yung Let Leni Lead was an initiative of another group. Iba-iba 'yung mga messaging na pinupush. So ang nangyari dito, parang– ang observation, naging sobrang mixed 'yung signals, diluted 'yung messaging.
That is why, in December, we had to decide on just one that will encapsulate everything that we want to convey.
PIA HONTIVEROS: Okay. In the middle of this investigation that’s going to happen on this alleged COMELEC hacking incident, are you still confident about the elections? Because as a candidate, you submit yourself to the process, to the system. You won in 2016, it’s the same, practically the same system. So, andiyan pa po ba ‘yung kumpyansa ninyo?
VP LENI: Ako, it’s worrying. Ak– ako I have to admit, Pia, na it’s worrying. That’s why the first day that we learned of an alleged hacking incident, naglabas kami ng statement ni Sen. Kiko urging COMELEC to conduct a full-blown investigation and to really ensure na ‘yung integrity ng system is in place. Kasi, gaya ng sabi mo, syempre cause for worry siya kung na-hack ito kasi unang-una, ano, kung iha-hack, ano ‘yung– ano ‘yung dahilan? So, kung ang dahilan is to meddle with the, you know, with– with the integrity of the elections, it is worrying not just for us candidates, pero syempre for electorate kasi gusto lang naman natin masiguro na ‘yung boses ng tao ‘yung madadala. So, ‘yung sa akin, it is enough reason for us to stay vigilant. Kailangan talagang tutukan natin ‘yung buong proseso just to make sure na kung ano ‘yung will ng tao, ‘yun ‘yung lalabas during the elections.
PIA HONTIVEROS: Yes, that is the most important. Ma’am, we have a minute to go and I know this may not sound like a very fair question to you, but it’s so important especially because you know, people’s attention spans are so short, and we don’t always have the luxury of time to explain everything. But there are three big things here: One, the economy, reviving the economy. Two, the war on corruption and the war on drugs, which were the centerpieces of the Duterte administration. So, my question here would be, you know, if you can, you know, [laughs] put it in one, one-minute capsule, what is it that you’re going to do in the first 100 days, one, to revive the economy; two, to, well, I’m sure you want to continue this war on corruption; and three, you know, how are you going to reimagine this war on drugs?
VP LENI: Ako– ako, ‘yung number one, Pia, naglabas na ko. Naglabas na ko, ‘yung Hanapbuhay Para sa Lahat and COVID– Kalayaan sa COVID plan. Nandoon ‘yung lahat ng detalye, but at the– at the core of a more long-term view are the goals na stopping corruption, investing in the Filipino, taking advantage of available technologies. So, parang it should encapsulate everything after we control the– we control the pandemic.
Pero ‘yung– ‘yung sa drugs, I will pursue it with as much vigor, pero ‘yung programa hindi gaya ng nangyayari ngayon. When I was ICAD Chair for 18 days, I already submitted a comprehensive plan on how to do it, and ‘pag nabigyan ako ng pagkakataon, ‘yun ‘yung gagawin ko. Meron na ko nito na point-by-point, step-by-step kung papaano gagawin, but– but the war on drugs should be pursued with as much vigor, pero absent what has been happening now na maraming patayan.
PIA HONTIVEROS: Vice President Leni Robredo, presidential aspirant for May 2022. Ma’am, thank you so much for the time you gave us tonight. Salamat po, Ma’am.
VP LENI: Thank you, Pia.