VP Leni showcases competence, credibility in CNN Philippines Presidential Debate
Vice President Leni Robredo stood out among the nine candidates present at the CNN Philippines Presidential Debate, not only because she is the only female candidate in the race, but because she gave the most credible answers, backed by years of knowledge and experience.
The candidates stood face-to-face without masks in a semi-circle before a live audience at the Quadricentennial Pavilion, University of Sto. Tomas (UST) on Sunday, February 27.
at the debate moderated by veteran television journalists Pia Hontiveros and Pinky Webb.
Noticeably absent due to the empty podium on stage with his name on it was Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
From the very first question on how the candidates have personally dealt with corruption, Robredo showed how she always puts action behind words.
“Hindi enough for a public official to be good but there has to be a system which will force him to be good. Noong ako ay member ng House of Representatives, 'yung mga panukalang batas na finile ko, lahat anti-corruption measures,” said Robredo, mentioning the Full Disclosure Law and the Freedom of Information Law.
For the last three consecutive years, the Office of the Vice President (OVP) has received the highest Commission on Audit (COA) rating.
“Unqualified opinion lagi. Pagpapakita na ang resibo nandiyan dahil talagang ayaw namin sa korupsyon,” Robredo said.
Long list of pandemic response initiatives
When asked what the candidates were doing in the days, weeks, and months that followed the initial lockdown, the 90 seconds were not enough for Robredo to enumerate everything she and the OVP had done – from information dissemination from medical experts back in February 2020 to taking care of frontliners with the production and distribution of medical PPEs, organizing of shuttle buses when transportation was suspended, and providing dormitories near hospitals so they didn’t have to travel too far to go home after their duties.
“Wala na pong trabaho 'yung mga TODA natin, naglagay po tayo ng mga Community Marts. Nag-launch po tayo ng Bayanihan E-Skwela noong wala nang paaralan, meron tayong mga Community Learning Hubs. Nag-launch po tayo ng BayaniHanapbuhay para doon sa mga nawalan ng trabaho,” she said. “Meron po tayong Vaccine Express, meron tayong Swab Cab. Meron po tayong Bayanihan E-Konsulta.”
Robredo’s long list of pandemic response did not go unnoticed in the witty world of Twitter.
“We really made VP Leni Robredo enumerate everything she has done during the COVID-19 pandemic that she had to rap,” one user said, to which another replied: “Leni Sunbaenim main rapper era.” It’s a reference to K-pop, and Robredo has her own K-pop for Leni fandom.
Since health will continue to be a priority due to the COVID-19 pandemic, when asked what she was looking for in a Health Secretary, Robredo said he or she needs to be an expert in the field, a good manager, respected by peers, and definitely, not a political appointee.
“Pero ako po bilang Presidente, in every crisis ako mismo 'yung mangunguna. Nakita po natin during the pandemic na kailangan natin ng isang Pangulo na talagang naglea-lead from the front. Hindi pupuwede ito na naghihintay lang ako ng report. Kailangan ako mismo nakaka-alam ng lahat na nangyayari on the ground kasi wala po tayong panahon to spare during times of emergency,” she said.
Solving the traffic congestion in Metro Manila
On the problem of mass transportation, Robredo said she would focus on making roads more convenient for bicycles and other active transport. She also said would focus on rural development.
“Kaya nagsisisksikan dito lahat dahil 'yung trabaho nandito sa Manila pero pag mag-invest tayo sa mga kanayunan at may trabaho doon, ang mga tao mae-engganyong umuwi sa kanila,” she said.
Commander-in-Chief; chief economist and diplomat
With international sanctions against Russia expected to disrupt oil supplies, Robredo said she would prepare for the expected price increases in basic goods by automatically suspending the excise tax to lower the price by about P10.00 a liter.
“Ito kailangan ng Presidente talagang yung vigilance saka foresight nasa kanya para na-aanticipate niya kung ano 'yung mga darating na problema,” she said. “Ngayon, kahit hindi pa kulang na kulang 'yung power natin, napakataas na ng presyo ng kuryente. Papaano ba natin mapapababa ito? Kailangan tutukan na natin ngayon.”
“Unang-una 'yung implementation ng VAT, kailangan tingnan natin para 'yung mga hindi dapat kinakarga sa'tin, wag kargahin. 'Yung systems loss, 'yung distribution charges, kailangan ma-subsidize ito ng pamahalaan para 'yung kwenta natin halos mga P600 ang mababawas sa bawat pamilyang panggastos. 'Yung ating supply ng kuryente, kailangan asikasuhin na natin.”
Still on foreign issues, when asked what her Plan B would be if multilateral talks with China did not work out, Robredo, speaking like a true commander-in-chief, said she would focus on international diplomacy, national unity, and the funding of the military.
“Papalakasin natin ‘yung pakikipag-ugnayan natin sa ating mga allies, mga ibang bansa na pareho ‘yung paniniwala sa atin, para meron tayong kakampi, just in case merong aggression. Pangalawa, ‘yung informational. Sisiguraduhin natin na ‘yung pamahalaan natin ‘yung nangunguna para i-push ‘yung isang national consensus. ‘Yung narrative natin ay kailangang magkaisa ‘yung mga Pilipino behind it,” she said.
“Pangatlo, ‘yung military. Sisiguraduhin natin na popondohan natin ‘yung ating Armed Forces of the Philippines para makapag-put up tayo ng credible defense against sa ating mga aggressors… Yung economic, sisiguraduhin natin magiging resilient ang ating ekonomiya para hindi tayo naiipit ng mga predatory practices ng ibang mga foreign powers.”
On the country’s foreign debt
On the P11.7 trilllion foreign debt, Robredo said debt is not wrong if the funds go toward the needs of the people.
“Naiintindihan natin na during the pandemic talagang malaki 'yung ating kinakailangan na pera pero ito ay hindi magiging makatarungan kung 'yung ating inutang ay napunta pa sa korupsyon,” she said. “Kaya ito sinisiguro natin na pag tayo naupo bilang Pangulo, titingnan natin kung saan ito ginastos at sisiguraduhin natin na babayaran natin 'yung utang, sisiguraduhin na mapupunta siya sa dapat mapuntahan, kasi luging-lugi ang taumbayan kung nagbabayad siya ng utang na iba naman 'yung nakinabang.”
In favor of civil unions
Moving on to social issues, Robredo said is in favor of civil unions, and as congresswoman, she was one of the co-authors of the Anti-Discrimination Law.
“Naniniwala po ako na lahat dapat binibigyan ng pagkakataon na ma-enjoy 'yung mga karapatan na ne-enjoy ng iba. I am all for civil unions, pareho po ako ng paniniwala ni Pope Francis na may karapatang lumigaya kahit sino,” she said. “Para po sa akin,obligasyon ng pamahalaan na sisiguruhin na hindi sila nadi-discriminate upon. Lahat ng opportunities na available sa iba, dapat available din para sa kanila.
On the issue of the high cost of annulment for people who want to end their marriages, Robredo recalled her time as a lawyer for Saligan, where she defended many women and children who were victims of domestic abuse.
She said that while annulment costs have been prohibitive, a recent Supreme Court decision will make things more accessible. She also referred to her membership in Bantay Familia, an organization that protects the rights of victims of abuse.
“Bago pa naipasa 'yung Republic Act 9262, Anti-Violence Against Women and Children Act, isa ako sa mga lobbyist nito. Pero para maprotektahan sila, kailangan tulungan natin ang mga kababaihan through economic empowerment. Ito 'yung magbibigay sa kanilang lakas para hindi i-tolerate 'yung abuses na nasa-suffer nila,” she said.
The ingredient of leadership
Robredo and the other candidates said debates such as this one, were opportunities to share their plans, despite the difficult questions they were asked to answer.
“'Yung number one ingredient din ng leadership aside from character is you show up in the most difficult times. 'Pag hindi ka magshow up in the most difficult times hindi ka leader, so kahit mahirap kailangan nandiyan ka, kailangan kaya mong harapin 'yung mga itatanong tungkol sa 'yo, kailangan kaya mong masagot kung ano 'yung issues laban sa 'yo, Hindi ka magtatago,” Robredo said. [End]