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    Message of Vice President Leni Robredo at the Meeting of Religious Leaders

    Message of Vice President Leni Robredo at the Meeting of Religious Leaders
    Metropolitan Cathedral, Cagayan de Oro City, Misamis Oriental

    [START 00:09]

    VP LENI: Thank you very much. Magandang gabi po sa inyong lahat. Most Reverend Antonio Ledesma, Most Reverend Joe Cabantan, all the other Priests, members of liturgy, Religious Sisters, representatives of the different organizations who are here tonight, members of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente, members of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, babasahin ko lang po ‘yung groups kasi so that we can recognize the different groups who are here. Catholic Women’s League, Association of Women Religious in the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro, Seminarians for Leni, Evangelicals, Couples for Christ, nasaan po kayo? Couples po kami, Couples for Christ din po kaming mag asawa, Accountants for Leni, Tulay Kalinaw sa Mindanaw thank you po, Balay Mindanaw Foundation, Priests for Leni, Sisters for Leni, everyone else who are giving us a very warm welcome tonight. Of course I am with Mayor Oca Moreno, galing po kasi kami ni Mayor Oca sa Gingoog. We just arrived from Gingoog, dumiretso lang po kami dito, dito sa inyo. But I am very very overwhelmed by the reception that I got. Akala ko po bibisitahin ko lang sina Bishop, Archbishop this afternoon.

    Whenever I have the chance and I’m in town, I drop by. In fact, I was here October po yata? Bishop? October, and I also dropped by. Just to give you siguro an update on what’s been happening the past few months. I think it is of no secret to all of you that I never planned running. Alam po ‘yan ni Mayor Oca. Ang decision point ko lang po before for filing was whether to still run for an elective position and If I would run, I would– noon po ‘yun syempre nabago na ngayon– pero I was planning to run for a gubernatorial post in the province where I come from. ‘Yun po sana ‘yung plano. Bakit ganoon? Kasi tingin ko po nakapasok po ako sa National Politics by accident. Kung hindi po namatay ‘yung asawa ko, hindi naman ako pumasok sa politika. Before my husband died, I was lawyering for farmers, fisherfolk, IPs, women and children. That was my life’s work for so long.

    I was involved in an NGO called SALIGAN. ‘Yung Sumilao farmers po kaya pinupuntahan ko kasi kliyente po namin sila. In fact, Cagayan de Oro is special for us because we lost two of our lawyers in the plane crash which happened Feb. of 19– Feb. of 1997, Feb. 2 of 1997. Si Attorney [inaudible 03:41] was a colleague, magkasama na OVP, pero kami sa pero magkasama po kami before sa SALIGAN. So ‘yung boss po namin si Attorney Bobby Gana we lost him here, tapos one of our lawyers, Attorney Caloy Olaldo.

    So that was my work. When my husband died, doon po ako napilitang makapasok but only to make sure na hindi mag disintegrate ‘yung partyng naiwan niya. It was only meant for a temporary thing. I was supposed to be there only for a term. Pero before my term– I ran against a very well entrenched political dynasty in our province, sinuwerte naman pong nanalo pero I wasn’t planning on still running. Pero ‘yung party po namin noong 2016, kailangan– nawalan po ng kandidato for VP. I was not the first choice. Tingin ko hindi din ako ‘yung second choice pero nangyari ‘yung nangyari, tumakbo po ako. I think siguro it is still fresh in the memory of some of you what happened in 2016. I was the neophyte. I was running against five incumbent Senators, all male. I won by a hairline and winning by a hairline meant tumultuous six years as VP.

    Pero when I was VP already, we were beset with a lot of difficulties not just political but also the fact that the office is really just a ceremonial one. We have a very limited mandate, very limited resources. Pero siguro because also of my background, parang I could not waste six years just doing ceremonial work so we converted the office into an advocacy-heavy one. We launched Angat Buhay in the first few months of my being Vice President. Angat Buhay is an anti-poverty program. Because we did not have funds, we conceptualized it in such a way that we really acted as a conduit between communities needing help and organizations wanting to help.

    We have a lot of programs in Mindanao, most of them in the poorest of Municipalities. We have a few programs in Bukidnon. We have a lot of programs in Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte. We have programs in Basilan Sulu, Zamboanga Sibugay, Siayan in Zamboanga del Norte, so the poor Municipalities. Just to give you an idea of the kind of projects we do it’s varied, but halimbawa in Sumilao, ‘yung mga farmers pong naging kliyente namin, because they won the case in their favor, they were able to get back the land that was really for them.

    Ang tinulong po ng office of the Vice President tinrain po namin sila in partnership with Pilipinas Shell Foundation, on integrated farm biosystems. Meaning tinulungan namin sila how they can maximize the property that they have. But as we were doing the project there, we discovered a lot of things also. So one of the things that we discovered is that meron pong isang public high school in the middle of the pineapple plantation, where the dropout rate is very high because children have to walk three to four hours each day everyday just to go to school. Nag-aabang lang po sila ng mga dadaan na truck, nakikisakay sila. Pero because all the trips are few and far between ang daming dropouts. So what we did was we built a dormitory inside the public high school. There are two dormitories there na one for boys, one for girls, and it has– building the dormitory and having children a place to stay for free during the week– dramatically improved the dropout rates in the public high school.

    So those are the kinds of things that we have been doing. It’s basically public education, public health, rural development, women empowerment. So that was what occupied us in the last almost six years. Pero as I’ve said, I felt that I was not a good fit for National Politics. Hindi po ako politiko, hindi ako marunong, hindi po ako marunong in the ways of National Politics. So gusto ko ‘yung trabaho pero sabi ko hindi ko– that the politics side was the more difficult one for me. Yet I spent June, July, August, September, trying to unite all the other candidates who were not allied with the administration.

    We were so close to uniting them already. The plan was we just help convene everyone and then I ran for a public office– for a local office or not run at all. Pero the talks failed mga four days before the filing. The talks failed four days before the filing and hindi ko inaasahan ako ‘yung na– na nominate ng 1Sambayan and that started the decision to run. Pero when I decided to run, I decided October 5, I filed October 7, when I decided to run I was ready for a long and lonely fight because that was how the five and a half years went by for me. Pero things have been so different since I announced. Wala po kaming inaasahan na much support from the local officials because of the– because of the political landscape. Maswerte nga kami na si Mayor Oca was the very first. He was the very first local politician who really came out in public supporting us. Naalala ko ‘yun Mayor Oca eh, kasi nandito po ako sa Cagayan de Oro kasi we were doing the vaccine express for the tricycle drivers. Sabi ko po mag courtesy call ako kay Mayor Oca right here, that was I think two days after I announced. The weekend after I announced. Wala naman po akong balak na anything, wala akong expectations kasi alam kong malalagay siya sa alanganin. Pero while I was doing the courtesy call, aleady, 'yung pinaka last na sinabi sa courtesy call, he announce in public that they were supporting me.

    So ito ay [inaudible 10:40 - 10:44], hindi ko pa kinukuwento kay Mayor Oca pero that was the first glimmer of hope na baka may iba pa, baka may iba pang maglakas loob and totoo naman, 'yung mga malalakas 'yung loob have publicly made their support– [admitted 11:04] their support public already. Pero while it's difficult in the sense that we don't have the resources, we don't have the machinery, compared to 2016 because I was admin candidate, there are a lot of things happening now that was not there in 2016.

    Mayor Oca saw this when we went to Gingoog. Sa Gingoog po wala po kaming kakamping local official. Wala po kaming organization doon. Bale sinamahan lang ako ni Mayor Oca because I wanted to go kasi never pa po akong nakapunta doon. Pero the reception was– was so warm. People were– were on the streets waiting for us. Most of them, very young people and that has been the same everywhere. Since the official campaign period started, we have just been so humbled and so overwhelmed by the kind of support we have been getting from volunteers. Ito po 'yung sabi ko nga, na-cocompare ko 'yung when people support organically when people just go to rallies on their own. Kasi the energy, the passion, the vigor talagang it's– it's very palpable. And while we were about 30 points down, the kind of– the kind of reception we’re seeing makes us very hopeful. but we need to get our acts together.

    Meaning to say, if you-- siguro nakikita niyo naman sa Facebook, one of the University surveys, surveys on college students, sobrang [inaudible 12:49] tayo. So meaning to say, nakuha natin 'yung– nakuha natin 'yung support ng young people, but how to convert them into votes, meaning to say, how would we encourage them to encourage more people to vote.

    Pinaka problema po ng kampanya namin ngayon really is disinformation. When we– we ended doing a lot of focus group discussions just to find out why the numbers are like that and ang basis disinformation. 'Yung mga negative votes ko, positive votes ng opponent. Ang basehan talaga disinformation and I think this is where the church can help us, not just us– not just us candidates, but this should be the concerted effort of everyone on barring all political colors aside. Kasi if the– if the elections would be based on misinformation, eh d wala tayo na 'yung integrity ng elections.

    So ito po talaga, I have come across– mga Diocese who have been doing their– their initiatives already. I was suggesting to them po na– meron po kaming team na sinabihan ko na "Why not hold virtual discussions among the laity, among the clergy, just to– 'yung batuhan lang ng mga best practices para puwedeng maka-share. May nakita po ako, 'yung Zamboanga Sibugay very very active with– si Bishop po mismo 'yung, si Bishop po mismo 'yung– Ano sila? Parang they started a several sessions ng discernment process and ano iyon, I met with them [inaudible 14:50] when I went.

    Angeles City also has a very good model. It's being supported by the Bishop but it's mainly an initiative of the Council of the Laity. They have been doing– saka sila namea-measure nila eh, namea-measure nila 'yung conversion. They do parang mga retreats among the parishioners and it's been very very effective. So there are really no set– set formula that we need to follow. Pero just awareness that we need to do something. 'Yung integrity of facts will be what will give us integrity of the elections.

    'Yun lang po 'yung nakakatakot ngayon, 'yun lang 'yung nakakatakot ngayon kasi the machinery, the propaganda machinery has been there for more than six years. 'Yun po 'yung findings ng mga experts na nag-aaral and it has really influenced the psyche of so many people in social media. And nakikita naman po namin, itong mga kabataan kasi are digital natives. So, I think mas bukas sila because they have access to a lot of information. Pero most everyone now is on Facebook and not everyone has access to a lot of information. So, kailangan talaga sila 'yung– kailangan talaga sila 'yung tulungan mag-discern.

    Wala na po tayo– hindi naman sa wala nang problema pero I think we're doing a lot of head way doon sa mga– sa mga ABC or people who have access, who have a lot of time to gather information, but there are those who do not have the luxury of time. And what they see on Youtube, on Tiktok, on Facebook, pinapaniwalaan. But a lot of them are-- are not really true.

    We have a lot of volunteers now who have been defending us online and calling us on fake news. There are a lot of them now, pero dahil– dahil organic at hindi naman sila bayad, hindi nila matapatan 'yung mga bayad. Kasi 'yung mga bayad, meron na rin talagang command, meron talagang command kung ano 'yung ilalabas, papaano– ano talaga sila, it's a-- it's a well-oiled infrastructure. So, pero ako I'm not [inaudible 17:25] losing hope. A lot of the networks already–traditional media networks–have banded together to do fact checking. I don't know if you're seeing them on Facebook, I see them from time to time, but because Facebook– Facebook, not just Facebook but all the social media platforms work on algorithms– na-sasaturate lang ng fake news 'yung distribution channels. 'Yung study po ano, kahit i-correct mo, kahit i-correct mo hindi mo na mababawi sa distribution channels 'yung pag-correct kasi pinaniwalaan na nila 'yung kasinungalingan. So, ifwe you can, if you can do it na sabay-sabay, ako naniniwala ako na walang sinabi 'yung ganoon na architectures sa pinagkaisang lakas ng taumbayan eh.

    So, ayun we have 75 days to go from today. It's too short a time pero it's long enough for us to– to correct all the wrongs that has been happening in our midst. Ako po very, very hopeful ako. Pag pinili na ako, 'yung passion ng mga tao, tingin ko hindi naman hahayaan na masayang ito. Kailangan lang natin magpatama, how we channel, how to channel this passion into things that are positive.

    Naniniwala po ako na 'yung simbahan 'yung– and I'm not just referring to the Catholic Church, but I'm referring to all the other gdenominations because of the kind of influence that they exert over your flock. So, pag 'yung pagco-correct ng fake information manggagaling sa inyo, it is not political anymore because people will respect it. Pero pag galing kasi sa supporters, nagiging polarizing lang 'yung– 'yung calling out eh.

    So baka po puwede ‘yun 'yung– ‘yun 'yung mapag-planuhan natin. Pag-planuhan natin in the next 75-74 days on how we will all help band together. Para ngang motto eh, parang lang Avengers Unite. Galing ito kay Maria Ressa I was– I was watching her speech, when she received the Woodrow Wilson award sa– award sa Princeton, this was really her topic, this was really her topic. And she was not talking just of the Philippines but she was talking of all that has been happening around the world. How social media has been curtailing democracy and how all of us should unite, all unite not to allow– not to allow this to get in the way of all the good that all of us want out of– out of all of us.

    So, iyun po. Maraming salamat kasi pagdating palang po namin, pagpasok palang po namin ni Mayor Oca sa Cagayan de Oro may mga naghihintay na sa kalsada. So, excited din po ako to join them tonight because all of this energy is really rubbing off on us. It makes us more inspired to do what we're doing every single day. So maraming salamat po [inaudible 21:00]

    [END 00:21:05]



    Posted in Transcripts on Feb 22, 2022