Press Conference with Vice President Leni Robredo
Harold’s Hotel, Cebu City
MAYOR TOMAS OSMEÑA: Brother Cebuanos, we have a very special guest today. But the real purpose here was that there was a meeting upstairs between the BPOs, the call centers, and the Vice President. This was– they were given a chance to air their suggestions and grievances.
But the immediate concern is to try to establish this coming elections, where we will petition Comelec to provide polling places in the IT Park, Cebu Business Park, and Kasambagan. Because many call center agents find it difficult, if not physically impossible, to vote because they have abnormal working hours. They work on US time, and many of them are not really, are really renting in the neighborhood, and their voting precincts are all over– not only Cebu, but Metro Cebu.
And so we're going to petition Comelec for the simple reason that we should allow these people to vote properly. If we allow Filipinos to vote in London, and in California, why can't we allow Filipinos to vote here in Cebu City? We have close to 200,000 call center agents in Cebu City. So, fortunately, we have, the Vice President is willing to listen [speaks in vernacular 01:47 to 01:49]. Normally, people come, they talk, they know everything, and then they go. In this case, we have the Vice President. I mentioned to her this is a need. She was here last– two weeks ago, and she's back here again, just for this purpose, to help the Cebuanos.
And after this, she's going to fly right back to Manila. So ato tagan, masipag-palakpakan for Vice President Leni Robredo. [applause]
MODERATOR: And now for our Vice President, Her Excellency Leni Robredo.
VP LENI: Good morning. Mayor Tommy, of course Mayor Margot, Vice Mayor Franklin, the rest of the BOPK slate, mga barangay captains, barangay officials who are here with us this morning. I have two good personal friends who are here. Both of them have been my dormmates. Si Cairo was my dormmate in UP. Tapos si, si Abet who, who led the ecumenical prayer, hindi siya ‘yung dormmate ko, yung asawa niya who is also here, si Cathy. And si Abet and Cathy have been meeting me, even before I became Vice President. Every time I'm in Cebu, they would meet me.
So it's so good to see all of you this morning. Sabi nga ni Mayor Tommy, I was just here a few weeks ago. But the last time I was here, I had lunch with Mayor Tommy and Mayor Margot. Mayor Tommy was passionately discussing with me his programs for the BPO industry in Cebu. And after an exchange of– of text messages, I told him I was very much willing to write Comelec to petition that Comelec would put– put up voting places in the three areas that Mayor Tommy mentioned earlier. And to assess what other interventions may be given insofar as the BPO community was involved.
So I did not plan to come here today, but when Mayor Tommy said that there is going to be a meeting, I told him I wanted to join. And it has been very productive. We met with perhaps about thirty? Twenty-five? Twenty-five BPO heads in Cebu. And they discussed with us all the, all the– the many things that, parang wishlist nila from government, to be able to help the industry. And it is something that is very interesting and very helpful to me.
Just last Friday, I had a presscon introducing my Hanapbuhay Para sa Lahat program, and we're, we're focusing on four major industries which we think, is– is, these industries are really giving big opportunities for jobs as far as Filipinos are concerned, and number one of them is tech. It's tech, manufacturing, maritime, and climate industries, and the inputs that I gathered today from all the representatives of the tech industry gave us a glimpse of the many things that, parang low-hanging fruits. These are low-hanging fruits that government can already do not just to help the industry but to help the industry employ more Filipinos, especially at this time of great need.
So very productive po 'yung meeting namin earlier upstairs and I'm very glad that I came because a lot of the things that they discussed, I was hearing for the first time. Again, thank you to Mayor Tommy for inviting me to join. I told the people upstairs that after our meeting today we will be consulting with them moving forward so that we can come up with a really comprehensive plan for them, for the tech industry. Not just the IT-BPO industry but for the entire tech industry in the Philippines. It's so good to see all of you. The last time I was here was a very good two days in Cebu. I had an opportunity to meet and thank the many supporters who have been already initiating a lot of things even before my visit, and so, sobrang saya ng huli naming punta and I'm glad I'm back again this morning. I'm flying out right after this. Maraming salamat po.
MODERATOR: Vice President, Her Excellency Leni Robredo, the presscon proper, we have allotted one question and one follow-up question after which, another media personality will ask our– her Excellency. We have a good presence of media personalities here, 26 of them, Madam Vice President. To start with, Mr. Alan Domingo of GMA 7 Cebu will shoot the first question.
GMA: Good morning to Vice President Leni, 'yung tanong ko sana kanina parang nasagot na sa opening statement. Anyway, just a follow-up, 'yung tungkol sa concern ng BPO sector, how optimistic or confident are you na mapagbigyan kayo ng Comelec?
VP LENI: Ako kasi, kung hindi mapapabigyan it will cause disenfranchisement of voters. Gaya nung kanina na usapan namin, ang sabi nga nila it is not enough that we put up voting centers in those three areas pero 'yung karagdagan nilang request kung pwede 24 hours for them. Kasi iba-iba 'yung kanilang mga oras, and you know they go on duty alanganin na oras tapos paglabas nila ang iba itutulog na lang kesa iboboto kahit gustong mag-participate. And 'yung iba naman kahit gusto nilang pagbigyan 'yung mga empleyado nila, hindi nila kayang pagbigyan kasi alam mong may mga kliyente sila sa labas na hindi pwedeng madisrupt 'yung trabaho. So kami, we will try our very best, we will try our very best and we hope that 'yung Comelec makita 'yung logic noon. Kasi it will not only benefit the Cebuano IT-BPO people but the entire country. Kung dito sa Cebu merong mga almost 200– 200,000 na BPO workers, all over the country it's more than 1.2 million. So pag hindi bigyan ng special pansin 'yung kahilingan nila, ang daming madi-disenfranchise.
GMA: Hindi po ba kailangan itong idaan sa Congress, Ma'am?
VP LENI: Merong kasing, meron– alam mo merong Executive Order, na hindi lang nga ito– 'yung pagbukas ng voting centers hindi naman kailangan idaan sa Congress. Pero meron kasing mas long term pang isa na Executive Order. 'Yung sa absentee voting, na 'yung sa absentee voting diba sa atin pwedeng, may categories na allowed to do absentee voting, 'yung mga uniformed personnel, 'yung mga government people doing election duties gaya ng mga teachers, pwede namang idagdag lang doon sa– sa Executive Order na yun. All the other voters na pareho ng nature nitong tech industry, na alanganin 'yung oras, ang request pa nga nila hindi lang dagdagan 'yung oras pero kung pwedeng dagdagan 'yung araw. Parang nangyayari sa US 'di ba. Hindi lang isang araw 'yung, hindi lang isang araw 'yung– hindi lang isang araw ‘yung botohan kasi sinasabi nila talagang pag hindi sila bigyan ng special consideration, sobrang dami sa kanila hindi makakaboto.
GMA: One last question, Ma'am. Ma'am sa mga previous administration even up to now parang nakasentro lahat sa imperial Manila. Pag ikaw naluklok sa puwesto, anong maaasahan ng Cebu specific o concrete plan mo dito sa Cebu?
VP LENI: Ako hindi lang Cebu. Pero I have– I have always been very vocal na talagang decentralized. Kasi pag hindi natin dine-centralize 'yung, 'yung lahat na– hindi lang gobyerno pero 'yung lahat ng mga industries, hindi talaga, hindi pantay 'yung development. Kahit pa sabihin natin na nag-iimprove 'yung economy. Pag tiningnan natin 'yung nabibigyan lang talaga ng maraming, parang habang nag-iimprove 'yung economy, 'yung mga mayayaman lalong yumayaman pero ang dami pa ring naiiwan sa laylayan. So– so 'yung sa 'tin ang pinaka– ang pinaka-assurance lang talaga na 'yung mga nasa ibaba ay kahit papano mabigyan, maiangat 'yung buhay nila, pag mas maraming opportunities. Pag mas maraming opportunities na available, pag tiningnan natin 'yung budget natin, pag tiningnan natin 'yung budget natin grabe talaga 'yung inequality pagdating sa prioritization.
So halimbawa dito sa Cebu ang daming opportunities, eh. Halimbawa, itong BPO industry, 'yung tech is an opportunity for Cebu. Pero anong nangyayari ngayon? Ang daming available na jobs– i-ano ko lang po, andito si Congressman Abellanosa, Congressman Abellanosa, good morning, my kumpare. Pero 'yun, 'yung BPO industry anong sinasabi nila? Ang dami naming trabaho available pero walang nagka-qualify. Kasi ang skill sets natin hindi sufficient. Halimbawa, ang sinasabi nila on the average, sa 50 nilang, sa 50 nilang ia-assess, isa lang 'yung maha-hire nila. So ano 'yung magagawa natin, ang gagawin natin dapat 'yung gobyerno 'yung nagsisiguro na ina-upskill natin 'yung mga, or nireretrain natin 'yung mga, mga kababayan natin para nagka-qualify sila sa mga jobs available.
Halimbawa, kanina sinabi nila na 'yung mga programa ng gobyerno hindi aligned sa needs ng kanilang industry. So ang dapat nating gawin, dapat i-align natin. Sabi nga ni Mayor Tommy kanina, dapat 'yung mga paaralan 'yung nag-aadjust sa needs ng market kasi kahit pa mag–kahit pa mag scholar tayo nang mag scholar na ang daming, ang daming mga, mga Pilipino, pero kung ang skills naman nila hindi 'yun 'yung hinahanap ng market, wala pa din silang trabaho. So 'yun 'yung number one na puwedeng gawin.
Number two, 'yung– ‘yung Cebu grabe 'yung opportunities sa maritime industries, and that is one of the four industries that we'll be focusing on. 'Yung maritime industries hindi lang ito– 'yung ship building grabe 'yung ine-employ ng shipbuilding pero hindi sufficient 'yung ating infrastructure para, para 'yung industry mag-flourish. Pati 'yung halimbawa 'yung domestic shipping, 'yung– ilan ba parang one-third of all the maritime workers all over the world are Filipinos, pero wala tayong flag carrying, wala tayong flag carrying na vessel na– na merong global na ruta. Pag meron sana tayong flag carrying 'yung logistics, 'yung logistics ang Pilipinas puwede maging global na logistics hub kung meron. So ang daming– ang daming opportunities and– and the location of Cebu is very ideal. So 'yung sa 'tin ang– parang to sum it up, 'yung gobyerno siya 'yung magsisiguro na 'yung opportunities that abound nama-maximize natin.
HOST: Thank you very much, Sir Allan Domingo of GMA 7 Cebu. The next to ask question, from the regional correspondent of the Daily Tribune, Mr. Rico Osmeña.
DAILY TRIBUNE: Maayong buntag, Your Excellency Vice President Leni.
VP LENI: Maayong buntag.
DAILY TRIBUNE: We would just like to get your reaction regarding Bando Osmeña - Pundok Kauswagan's endorsement of Senator Tito Sotto as the Vice Presidential candidate. Ano kaya ang– saan kaya papunta si Kiko nito?
VP LENI: Ako naman, ako– ako siyempre– siyempre kahit sino may laya na pumili ng gusto niyang kandidato. Of course, if you ask me, I would have preferred na BOPK endorses Kiko. Pero having said that, I am very thankful for the endorsement of the BOPK. Kami naman ni Mayor Tommy, ‘yung relationship naming is more personal than political. ‘Nung buhay pa ‘yung asawa ko, Jesse and Mayor Tommy have been very good friends and his endorsement is something that I really value. ‘Yung sa akin, ganun naman talaga. There– there are a lot of– sa amin naman, we regard each other – Senator Kiko and I – we regard each other as partners. Meron namang mag-eendorse sa kanya na ako ‘yung hindi dalang pangulo. So, sa amin basta we work as one– we work as one. Kino-compensate kung saan may nawawala. Basta kami nagkakaintindihan na we are working for the entire slate. And I am sure, yung BOPK ganoon din. ‘Yung pagdesisyon naman nila hindi naman naka-base sa personal relations. Kahit ako, hindi kaagad ako na-endorse ng BOPK. Talagang pinag– pinag-isipan pa nila, pinagdiskusyunan. And I am sure ‘yung basis ng kanilang decision ay mga considerations na would– would redound to the benefit of Cebu City.
DAILY TRIBUNE: Sa province of Cebu po, alam natin na ang nagdadala po sa kandidatura niyo ay si Vice Governor Junjun Davide. Meron po ba tayong political arrangement between Davide or kayo po sa partido at kay Ace Durano, yung gubernatorial candidate ni Vice Governor Junjun Davide?
VP LEN: Alam mo po, very understandable ‘yung posisyon ngayon ni Vice Governor Davide kasi kung naalala niyo, I decided very, very late. I decided at the last hour. ‘Nung nag-decide po ako to run, nabuo na ‘yung gubernatorial slate ni Congressman Ace Durano and Vice Governor Junjun Davide. So, ito maraming mga diskusyon na nangyayari as we move forward. Marami pang pwedeng mangyari. Meron pang six months ahead of us. Pero ako, I am very thankful na Vice Governor Junjun remains to be an ally. We have always been proud of the leader that Governor Junjun is just as we are proud of both Mayor Tommy and Mayor Margot.
DAILY TRIBUNE: Pero meron pong ligawan kay Ace Durano ngayon?
VP LENI: Mahi– mahirap sabihin this early. Pero ‘yung sa’kin, we remain open to alliances. Hindi naman po kami nagsasara ng pinto kahit kanino.
MODERATOR: We have Rappler and CNN Philippines, if you have questions. We can allow two more questions and then we’ll wrap up.
CNN PHILIPPINES: Good morning VP, Dale Israel from CNN Philippines. VP, there are seven hospitals in Iloilo that will sever ties with Philhealth starting January 1. And the hospital group also said that there are a lot of other hospitals that are left unpaid but will also do the same in Visayas and Mindanao. Your reaction on this?
VP LENI: Ako, I have always pushed na, especially during the pandemic, when hospitals needed a lot of support from Philhealth. Ang binibigay kasing dahilan kung bakit natatagalan yung pagbayad was because may mga chine-check na mga papeles, irregularities, etc.
Ako ang posisyon ko d’yan, at a time of great need, bayaran na lahat. Kasi tini– mache-check mo naman sa records. So, kung merong irregularities ‘yung iba, pa-reimburse sa kanila. Kung hindi ako nagkakamali, ‘yung record lang naman na merong mga irregularities, parang– parang 7% in the past. ‘Yung majority nagsa-suffer because natatagalan ‘yung pag-assess ng mga records. Hindi natin nare-realize ito na ‘yung nagiging dahilan kung bakit ‘yung mga ospital nagsasara, kung bakit may mga ospital na madali nang mag-sara – dahil hindi sila nababayaran. So para sa akin, last year ko pa ‘to sinasabi, bakit hindi niyo na bayaran lahat? Tapos saka kayo mag-assess. Para hindi naa-affect ‘yung operations ng ospital. So pag- pag may nakita kayong mga irregularities then go after the hospitals na merong irregularities. Pero do not punish those who have no irregularities 'di ba? Parang it– it has been quite already since last year hindi nababayaran 'yung mga ospital, 'eh ito nga 'yung panahon na grabe 'yung gastos ng mga ospital kasi we were in a pandemic. So I don't know what’s- what’s– what’s keeping them from paying the hospitals pero I would understand kung bakit ganun 'yung, kung bakit ganun 'yung tayo ng ibang ospital kasi 'di ba they have been contributing and yet wala silang nakukuhang help.
MODERATOR: Okay, so one more? Rappler, okay.
RAPPLER: Hello good afternoon po! Ryan Macaser from Rappler Visayas. Ms– Madame Vice President you've mentioned previously that you're not necessarily for abolishing NTF-ELCAC which did not sit well with some of your critics on the progressive side and you've also mentioned the whole nation approach in localized peace talks which is very similar to the current administration approach addressing insurgency, so I'd like to ask if you can expound on your plans on addressing insurgency and would you be open in resuming peace talks?
VP LENI: Ako yes, I would be open to resuming pea– peace talks pero sa akin kasi hindi lang dapat national kasi a lot of– parang– parang bawat isang lugar iba 'yung dahilan kung bakit insurgency abounds. Ala– na para sa akin a lot of the core issues will be addressed 'pag mas localized 'yung usapan, that's one.
Number two, wala naman nagbago sa statement ko. Eve– even before, I already said that I was for a whole of nation approach in– in solving insurgency, I've said it so many times already pero sinasabi ko hindi– hindi ako against sa mandato ng whole of nation approach. Pero against ako the way NTF-ELCAC has been red-tagging, the way they– the way the task force has been used to, to go beyond the mandate that the task force has been given.
Ako agree ako na ‘yu– 'yung help that is be– being given to really incentivizing barangays with the barangays development fund, I– I’m all for it. Ang hindi lang ako agree, ang hindi ako agree 'pag 'yung task force becomes so powerful na it is already used to– it is already used to– to harass. Ako mismo i have been at the receiving end of red-tagging, and it's not something that we should pa– parang we should treat lightly.
Sa– sa akin wala namang nagbago. Ako, ako from the very start I always said that a whole of nation approach is the way to go. Pero hindi ako agree na ‘yung pag– pag-iidentify ay masyadong subjective. 'Yung-'yung sa akin dapat NTF-ELCAC should be beyond politics. it should not be used to harass political opponents.
MODERATOR: Okay that’s the end of our presscon.
REPORTER: Will you pay a courtesy visit to Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia?
VP LENI: Yes, yes!
REPORTER: She said earlier that she has no problems with you because she…
VP LENI: Ako naman, even if they’re not my party mates, I am very much willing to pay my respects. In fact, the last time I was here, I was supposed to visit. Nakulangan lang talaga ng… Parang she was not here yata the time that I was supposed to visit her. Pero next time. Babalik pa naman kami. Babalik pa kami sa Cebu and we’ll make sure to do that next time we come.
REPORTER: Thank you, Madam!