OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. LENI ROBREDO ON HER INTRODUCTION OF THE SENATORIAL SLATE
Good morning to all.
It was only a week ago when I offered myself to be a candidate for President. Since then, everybody saw an overwhelming outpouring of support; we witnessed the awakening of our people’s collective energies; hope emerged from all of us: it was just there, hidden all along.
And I am grateful to everyone who stood with me. First and foremost, Senator Kiko Pangilinan, who heeded the call to be my Vice President despite the complications and sacrifices that come with this task. The day we declared him as our running mate, I also mentioned the names of five others who will join us in our fight as candidates for Senator.
Today, we add six more names to the list. Together, this makes eleven individuals who answered our call for unity, even as they come from different backgrounds. They are representatives of a much larger force ready to stand and push for a different, competent, and just governance, from the highest offices of government down to every corner of the bureaucracy. Many of them, if not outright allies, have been quietly helping or working with us to fill in the gaps and address the issues of our country, especially in the time of COVID.
This morning, I formally declare them as part of our Senatorial Slate in the next elections.
First, Senator Sonny Trillanes of Magdalo. Senator Sonny is always ready to put his life on the line when it comes to the fight against corruption. When it comes to issues about the West Philippine Sea or questionable contracts, he does not care if he will be threatened or harmed: He will stand up for our country.
Of course, Senator Risa Hontiveros of Akbayan. Senator Risa is sharp, intelligent, courageous; has always taken the right path—never lost her way—when it comes to taking a stand. Because of her, new mothers now have longer maternity leaves. She champions healthcare for all and is an advocate for the welfare of the Filipino women.
Senator Leila de Lima of the Liberal Party. The only reason she is detained: She was the very first and the bravest one to stand up against the killings. She has told the truth and continues to tell the truth; she fights for the lives and rights of the Filipino people. She will continue this fight in her next term in the Senate. It is my honor that Senator Leila is among our ranks.
Senator Chel Diokno of the Katipunan ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino. He was the first to raise the idea and bring hope, especially among the youth, that we can have a Woke Grandfather in the Senate. He heads the Free Legal Assistance Group that provides free legal service for people who have been abused. He is a brilliant lawyer, hardworking, and a champion for justice and human rights – Dean Chel Diokno.
Senator Teddy Baguilat of the Liberal Party. Congressman Teddy is a longtime ally. We were together in Congress before. He is reliable, very kind, and an excellent organizer. He pushes for our progressive agenda for the environment and indigenous peoples. When more Filipinos get to know his name, I am certain, they will put a heart on it because he has integrity and dignity.
The first name that we will add to these five: Alex Lacson of the Kapatiran Party. Alex is a humane and God-fearing man, a true servant leader. Many people know of his deep love for our country. Even when he was in the private sector, Alex did not stop serving others. We always believed in his convictions. We were not the only ones who chose Alex: He also gained the trust and confidence of the Church.
We also have with us guest candidates who have expressed solidarity with what we fight for, and they are ready to join us in the name of unity, even as we come from different backgrounds and persuasions:
First is Senator Dick Gordon of the Bagumbayan Party. It is clear that he will not stay silent in the fight against corruption. He is a brave defender who leads the investigations on the billions of pesos in public funds that went to questionable contracts, while millions of Filipinos waited for aid.
Second, we have Senator Migz Zubiri. A son of Mindanao, Senator Migz has proven his ability to advance laws—especially laws on housing, the environment, agriculture, and food. Like many of the people who are with us today, political color is not important to him. He is also one of our true supporters here at the Office of the Vice President, in all of our initiatives.
Third is Senator Chiz Escudero of the Nationalist People's Coalition. A former Senator, he has shown himself to be a skilled Governor. He showed the willingness to set aside politics in the name of serving others. He helped our office expand the reach of our Angat Buhay programs to more areas when we began our term.
Fourth is Senator Joel Villanueva. We know where Senator Joel’s heart is. He has long been focused on creating jobs. Filipinos need to have jobs especially during this time, and he is a well-suited partner in advancing this goal.
Fifth, Senator Jojo Binay of the United Nationalist Alliance. A former Vice President, his help and guidance made our transition in the OVP easier. He was among the first to answer our call for unity: We cannot allow a repeat of the kind of governance that is at the root of everyone’s suffering today.
We also asked for Senator Franklin Drilon’s help, not as a senator, but to help us manage our Senate slate. We are hopeful that his extensive experience will help ensure that our unity will always be focused on the principles and the dreams of the Filipinos.
Also with us— who will work alongside Senator Frank is Arnel Casanova—where is Arnel? There he is, inside—Arnel Casanova, former BCDA chairman under the previous administration. He has long been aligned with our principles, and he has filed his candidacy for Senator under KNP with Senator Chel Diokno. We are grateful that he agreed to set aside his own candidacy to instead be a pillar—in managing our Senate slate. Thank you very much, Arnel.
Let us make our primary objective for the next elections clear: To foster, especially from its highest levels, a government that has integrity; that is competent; that is humane; that will always put the welfare of the nation first and foremost. We are one in this purpose and we are one with the eleven names that I presented so that together, we can bring about change. I reaffirm our philosophy: To remain open, to keep widening our ranks based on our principles and dreams for our country. Ultimately, all of them—all of us—will remain accountable only to you, the Filipino people.
Thank you. We are now ready to take your questions.