FULL TEXT: INQ&A with vice presidential candidate Leni Robredo
In preparation for the vice presidential debate held in Manila last April 10, INQUIRER.net organized a series of individual interviews with the candidates and fielded questions from social media and chat apps.
Camarines Sur Representative Leni Robredo, vice presidential bet of the ruling Liberal Party, was the second candidate to take the hot seat. Robredo was catapulted into politics after the death of her husband, the late Jesse Robredo, who was a close ally of President Benigno Aquino III.
READ: Candidate — Leni Robredo
Because of her husband’s track record and clean image, Robredo was asked to run for Congress by the Liberal Party and her supporters. She won big against the Villafuerte clan, an old political dynasty in Camarines Sur.
Last year, she was again pressured to run for higher office, as runningmate of former interior secretary Mar Roxas.
In this interview with INQUIRER.net Editor in Chief John Nery, Chief of Reporters Kristine Sabillo and multimedia reporter Julliane de Jesus last April 7, Robredo talked about her own motivations to run and his plans if he wins vice president, with Binay or Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte as president. KS
John Nery: Good evening and welcome to our INQ and A with vice presidential candiate Leni Robredo. I’m John Nery and it is my happy task to serve as your moderator for the next hour. Welcome to our cozy little studio, Congresswoman.
Leni Robredo: Thank you. Thank you John. Thank you for having me.
JN: We are joined by Inquirer.net’s Chief of Reporters, Tine Sabillo and our multimedia reporter covering the Roxas-Robredo campaign, Julliane De Jesus.
We are also live on Facebook on our Inquirer.net page, live on Youtube in our Inquirernews channel, and live of course on Inquirer.net itself, the country’s leading news website. We are also present in the chat app space. We are live, we are on air online and we also have live updates on Viber, We Chat, Firechat and Kakao. We have live updates on Twitter, follow us at @inquirerdotnet and @team_inquirer. Last but not least, we are also covered by the Philippine Daily Inquirer and Inquirer Bandera.
Congresswoman, just a brief introduction about the format. It’s very simple. We will have three rounds of questions. Each round may last maybe 18-19 minutes. Each round will begin with questions from the crowd, from our various audiences and probably this will take up the first 10 minutes of each round. After that, we will have our own follow up questions. We will move from the first round until the third. And maybe we can end with closing words from you. Let me start with a question from Twitter, from Kriel.fernandez, “As the only female VP candidate, how can you prove that you are as tough, or even tougher than the males?”
LR: I think my record as a lawyer for the poor and as a congresswoman would be able to prove it. It is easy to say I am tough but it’s very difficult to just say it. But what I did in the past would show that I really fight for what I think is always right. I have stood my ground in many issues that have beset us even if some of these are not exactly in line with the administration’s point of view and I’m very glad that my views have been respected.
Ano naman yun, it’s a difficult, parang role to be in, to be the only female candidate, kasi there is actually a percentage of the constituency who’d always go for somebody they think would be tougher than the rest. And we have to prove ourselves parang we need to put in more effort to be able to prove that were tough enough for the job.
JN: Ma’am we will have opportunity to ask follow up questions about you being the only rose among the thorns but our next question is from social and that’s from Tine.
Kristine Sabillo: Good evening Congresswoman, thank you for joining us tonight.
LR: Hi Tine.
KS: I have a question from Facebook. This is actually one of the questions that are often asked about those that are running for the vice presidency. This is from Ella Marie. “It is not a secret that in most government set ups, people do not give much attention to the vice presidency, its actual function and its potential venue for significant national accomplishments. How will you revolutionize this important national post and not have it abused and turn into a venue to further political ambitions?
LR: Ako, I think, I have said this many times in the past, that if elected I intend to redefine the office. Kasi for a very long time, we have had a succession of vice presidents na talagang hindi nabigyan ng masyadong attention yung office. Either because hindi naman nabigyan ng mas maraming pagkakataon or talagang nag-ambisyon for a higher position.
Kaya sabi ko yung step one siguro sa akin is to convince myself and to convince people that I will never be lured to aiming for a higher post. Kasi once I have that ambition parang I wouldn’t be able to maximize the office already because there is always a temptation to use it to further my political ambitions eh. Ano talaga to, I always look to the post. Syempre partner ka ng presidente, but you are not just there to be a problem solver but you’re there to be an inspirational guide and para maging inspirational guide kelangan ma-inspire mo yung tao to think of themselves as part of government. Kasi, again, for a very long time, ang tingin ng tao yung gobyerno, yung public service lang eh. Ako, yung aking target sana, by being an inspirational guide, papaalala ko lang sa tao na you’re also part of the government.
Government is not just about public service, pero government is about, ‘di ba, government and people working together. Im saying this because we have done this in Naga when my husband was mayor. Parang we tried, we exerted a lot of effort in trying to change the mind set of the constituency. Kasi, noong yung ang tao tinitingnan niya na hindi siya kabahagi ng gobyerno, very critical eh. Parang, pag namamali yung gobyerno, ambilis kaagad na, parang, hindi forgiving. Pero, pero noong naramdaman na ng tao na kalahok siya sa pamumuno, when the constituency is assured that he has a voice in governance, they become very collaborative eh. And when the constituency is very collaborative, understood, they share in the successes of government, pero yung failures naman mas understanding, while critical pa din, pero hindi critical na ganitong level satin, na kapag may nagkakamali, parang hindi, ibang iba. Ibang iba in the sense that, imbes na working together as one, parating tinitingnan, ikaw yung gobyerno, kami hindi. Dapat hindi ganon yon. Dapat isa lang yon lahat.
JN: Thank you. The next question is from Julliane.
Julliane de Jesus: Hi ma’am. One question again from Facebook. This is from Orly Fuentes. “If fortunate to win as a VP, will we see a vice president in you, will you not just fall under the shadow of the President? If so, what concrete plans do you have in mind that you think you can turn into 100 percent realizations during your 6 years?
Leni: Ako alam mo, reality is that, what I will do in the next six years if elected would a large part depend on the assignment that the President will give me. Parang, it’s in the law naman, in the constitution. Ako talaga katuwang ng pangulo, pero yung pangulo yung may kapangyarihan na mag assign sa akin ng additional na trabaho.
Pero yung sa akin if given the choice, mas gusto ko sana hindi cabinet position so that hindi siya parang barred down by the daily admin thing. Gusto kong ayusin yung lahat ng anti-poverty programs. Kasi dun naman ako nanggaling. When I say ayusin, ngayon napakarami na nating anti-poverty programs pero tingin ko kasi andami pang room for improvement. Ang number one dun, ang accessibility ng tao na maka take part ‘dun sa mga programa. Ngayon yung bureaucratic red tape, talagang, ang grabe pa. Halimbawa na lang sa housing, bago maka access, napakaraming opisinang pupuntahan, napakaraming pirma yung kailangan. Yung sa akin sana, gusto kong padalihin lahat.padalihin yung tao na maka access sa anti poverty programs, kasi bahagi naman yon ng serbisyo na dinedeserve nila. Pero yung pagsabi na anti poverty program parating patungo sa rural development. Yung sa sakin gusto ko opisina ng vice president is parang ano yon e, nag cocommand ka ng national attention na gusto ko pinupuntahan ko yung mga probinsyang matagal nang napag-iwanan pero marami yung potential at pwede talagang, pwedeng ayusin yung development. Hindi siguro ako vice president na parating nag oopisina sa Coconut Palace. Mas gusto kong nag-oopisina sa mga probinsya hindi para mamulitika pero para paramdamin sa mga tao na yung gobyerno nandiyan para sa kanila.
JN: Balikan po natin yan mamaya kung sino ba nakatira sa Coconut Palace. Pero may tanong muna tayo from Joel Bibit from facebook. “Maliban sa mahihirap, may plano ka ba para sa aming nasa middle class? Kasi mahirap lang nakaka avail ng mga libreng programa.”
Leni: Yung sa akin syempre meron. Pero yung sa atin naman parating may sinasabi “to whom much is given, much is required.” Ang gusto kong sabihin na yung mas nakaka angat, hindi na muna, parang, parang ano to, parang gusto nating maging equitable lahat. Yung mas kulang yun yung mas pagbibigyan ng atensyon. Yung mas marami yun yung mas less na atensyon.
Parati naman tayong may programa sa middle class. Halimbawa yung pag aayos ng public utilities, pag aayos ng accesibility. Yung rural development yung mag be-benefit din dito ay yung middle class in the sense na marami ngayon na middle class ang nawawalay sa kanilang pamilya dahil kailangang magtrabaho sa malayo. Yun yung gusto nating ayusin para yung mga pamilya hindi na magkawalay-walay dahil may trabaho ng available sa lugar. Nung wala pa ako sa pulitika, marami kaming sinubukan na pagaasikaso nito. Halimbawa yung mga nanay. Mga nanay na katulad namin na parating yung struggle every day, papano i-jujuggle yung family at trabaho.
Papano mo ba bibigyan ng mas equitable access yung lahat na yung quality of life niya ‘di na nag susuffer pero kumikita siya. Papano yung nanay…na hindi niya pino problema yung mga anak niya, ganun. Ako, sa akin kasi yung rural development, ano yun eh, hindi mo lang tinutulungan yung mga nasa probisya, pero tinutulungan mo rin yung mga nasa manila na, na i-ease yung congestion dito. Pag na-ease yung congestion dito , yung quality of life, ng mga nagtatrabho maaayos, kasi yung less time sa traffic, yung basic services, mas may access siya, ano lahat talaga to, lahat naman , lahat naman mag bebenefitfrom this. Pero yung sinasabi lang natin syempre yung mas kulang, yon din yung mas tutulungan.
JN: Thank you. Tine?
KS: we all know that you are the ruling party’s bet but Jason Gaspar Maulit from Twitter wants to know what are the top three criticisms that you can speak of the Aquino administration?
LR: Ako dito sa Metro Manila siguro number one traffic. Number one yung traffic. Number two kabahagi rin ng traffic yung inefficient na mass transport system. Number three, sinasabi ko yung mga urban na problema kasi yung mga rural iba. Yung number three, internet connectivity. Talagang nagrereklamo tayo, hindi lang mabagal, hindi lang mahal pero yung reliability napakahalaga hindi lang sa mga kabataan, pero napakahalaga sa negosyo, napakahalaga sa paghahanap buhay.
Parang ngayon, ngayon, parang human right na yung internet connectivity dahil malaking portion ng buhay natin nakaasa ‘dun. Eto yung madalas na kritisismo na natatanggap ng gobyerno. Pero sa rurual areas gaya sa amin iba din. Iba din yung problema. Halimbawa, case to case kasi siya. Halimbawa sa amin, yung sinisigaw namin, na walang maayos na highway papunta sa’min. ‘yung tren hindi umaandar. Marami naman talaga pero yung sinasabi lang natin siguro ‘yung agreement na totoong maraming kulang pero marami na ding naiba sa buhay natin. Maraming magandang naiba sa buhay natin kumpara to 6 years ago. ‘yung sa akin lang, giving credit to where it is due pero recognition also ng mga kakulangan.
JN: Parang may pattern po dun sa both rural and urban problems. They all have to do with transportation.
LR: Transportation and communication. Totoo kasi, much of what were doing naman is dependent on that ‘diba. Yung kabuhayan, agri. Yung agriculture, problema pag mahirap yung transport. Problema kapag napakamahal ng pagpapadala ng produce kasi gaya sa’min, yung mga farmers naming hindi talaga competitive sa mga farmers ng Region 3. Kasi yung gastos lang sa pagapadala ng produkto talong talo na talaga.
JD: Okay. Eto ma’am. We all know that BBL is a very sensitive issue but here’s a question from Twitter, from user @KorinaKaye28, “I think Leni Robredo supports passage of BBL, please ask how justice can be achieved for SAF 44 even when working on BBL.”
LR: Ako kasi, yung sa akin, mas mabibigyan yan ng hustisya kapag magkaroon ng katahimikan sa Mindanao. Mas magkakaroon ng hustisya kapag, kasi nangyari lang naman yung Mamasapano kasi magulo sa Mindanao. I think yung pinakamalaking justice na maibibigay natin is, (siguraduhin) natin na yung pagkamatay nila is not in vain. Yung mga kapulisan pumunta ‘dun to promote peace. Very unfortunate ‘yung nangyari, kinokondena natin, palagay natin dapat hindi maka libre yung lahat na whether directly or not directly responsible. Pero mas hindi natin mabibigyan ng hustisya sila pag despite the fact na sinakrpisyo nila yung buhay nila wala pa ring katahimikang nakakamtan.
JN: Ma’am, we’d like to start with the follow up questions now. You spoke earlier about the tough act that this campaign is… When you were making the decision to run, who did you think was the leading candidate for vice president? Was that part and was that person part of the decision making?
LR: Ako Grace Poe kasi I knew for a fact that the party was setting its sights on her. And I was even praying, when people were suggesting my name already, I was praying na sana tanggapin niya para hindi ako.
She was doing very well in the surveys, ano naman…yung sa akin nga, yon naman yung tinitingnan ko. Hindi ko alam kung may iba pang kinonsidera yung partido pero ang alam ko siya, siya yung kinokonsidera. And it would have been okay with me kung tinanggap niya. Tapos nung nag announce siya, that was when the pressure on me became really, ‘di ba, parang na-intensify.
It wasn’t a difficult decision in the sense na I was being very realistic about it. Alam ko kung sino yung mga tatakbo. Alam ko na I was nowhere in the league of these people who were setting their sights on the vice presidency. Pero yung sa akin naman kasi, parang it was a choice between personal convenience and obligation eh. Parang it was a choice between what is easy for us, what is easy for the family and ‘yung the chance to make a contribution to society. Para ngang ano eh, parang harakiri yung nangyari sa’kin. When I accepted the challenge talagang sadsad ako sa surveys. I was at one percent. Ang leading yata nun was at 44 or somewhere in that area. Pero, siguro ano kasi eh, parang, I, all my life nasanay ako sa hardships. Kahit yung mga laban ng asawa ko nun eh naging mahirap din. Yung buong buhay ko, yung pagiging abogado ko, yung pagkamatay ng asawa ko, yung congressional run ko, talagang, talagang ‘di na sa’kin alien yung ganito kahirap na laban. But of course the magnitude of this fight is very different for the rest per iniisip ko nalang non kung nakaya ko nga yung pagkamatay ng asawa ko , kaya ko na lahat.
JN: but ma’am, now you’re closing in
LR: Oo. I’m 2 points behind the frontrunner.
JN: Two points behind the frontrunner. Another definition of toughness. Is your rise in the surveys, is it partly because you’ve not been afraid to speak out lets say against BongBong Marcos or…
LR: Ako palagay ko it’s a combination of many things. The reality is that, it’s a plus that I am also new in the sense that I don’t carry with me yet the baggages that other, more seasoned politicians carry on their shoulders. Plus ‘yon. But it’s also a minus.
In the sense that people are not very sure if you can do the job. Pero yun nga, kombinasyon siya. Siguro, actually my strong stand against Bongbong is not really vote-getting eh. Kasi when he did that, he was fairing very good in the surveys already. ‘Yung sa aking lang parang matter of obligation lang din na, nalukluk ako sa ganitong buhay also because my political awkaning was really when Ninoy died. Kaya my husband and I met because of EDSA, parang all my adult life, pati yung buhay ko, buhay naming mag-asawa was shaped by that. Kaya yung para sakin, para tumahimik ngayon, parang I will be doing naman a, not only myself but my children and the future generations justice, hindi ako magsasalita.
KS: Ma’am you’ve mentioned your late husband, Jessie Robredo, it seems like he has been a lot of inspiration for you. What did you learn from him that you have applied now that you are campaigning as a VP bet and do you have a particular program in mind that you would like to pursue for him?
LR: Ako marami. It is true that my husband has been the inspiration behind all these. Maraming lessons pero mas marami yung inspirations. My husband was in government for more than 20 years pero he was the same person that he was when he died. He was the same. Parang he didn’t change at all. In the sense that he was very aware of his vulnerabilities.
‘Yung asawa ko palaging nireremind yung sarili niya kung sino siya at ano ‘yung pinanggalingan niya. I think it was what made him tough against the many temptation that power brings. Parati niya kaming sinasabihan noon, ako tsaka yung mga bata na “Huwag tayung masasanay” and he was referring to the perks and privileges of office. Huwag tayong masasanay kasi pag nasanay tayo baka hanap-hanapin natin. Parati nya ring sinasabi na it is good na our needs and our wants nasa tama lang kasi oras na tumaas yung ating mga wants, na more than what we really need, yun na yung katapusan ng ating, parang, parang self preservation. And I keep that in mind all the time especially when I became a congresswoman already kasi yung reality talaga maraming bagay na pagpipila nalang, yung mga mago-offer sayo na to make things easy for you.
Yung asawa ko, tried to shun all this. And I think that what made him not lose himself despite the many years in government. Ako yun yung parati kong iniisip na huwag ako dyan kasi si Jessie nga, si Jessie nga na-maintain niyang ganun. Wala akong karapatan na hindi ko mamaintain. Ako bagong bago palang, siya ang tagal na. tapos siya talaga ang konsepto niya ng governance was really for government to be very transparent, for government officials to be accountable all the time, for government to open its doors to people participation to give voice to as many people as many as possible. Yun yung pinaka, parang three core principles ng governance niya and I think na it worked very well.
JD: Ma’am you were talking about Coconut Palace kanina, and in your previous interviews, sinasabi niyo po na you plan to redefine the role of Vice President, then that you would not aspire to become president after your term. Why is that po, is this to prevent another Binay?
LE: Para sa akin kasi, yung worry ko. It’s more for myself. Parang yung worry ko, kasi hindi malayo eh.
JN: So you don’t plan to stay in Coconut Palace?
LR: if I would have a choice, I won’t. Parang its too ostentatious for a vice president. Yung sa akin lang kasi, nire-remind ko lang yung sarili ko pag nag-ambisyon akong maging pangulo sabihin natin vice president ako, pag nag ambisyon akong maging pangulo parang yung motivation ko na eleksyon sa susunod, in the next six years. Parang sasayangin ko yung opisina. Kasi yung lahat ko nang gagawin, lahat na, vote getting. Hindi mo naman yon maseseparate e.
Hindi mo masasabing…kasi tao lang tayo e. Parang mas mabuti pa na to draw a very clear line. Para hindi mahirap yung hindi ka pumipili pag mayroong sangangdaan. Mahirap yung niloloko mo yung sarili mo na, na niloloko mo yung sarili mo na kaya mong pagsabayin yung dalawa. I don’t think it’s possible. So mas mabuti pang huwag mag ambisyon. Parang yung pagkandidato mo, sinasabibi mo sa sarili mo na pag pinalad ka hanggang dito ka nalang.
JN: Thank you. We’ll move on now to our second round of questions. We will have again questions from social media. But first I’d like first to thank our 5,000 live viewers right now on Facebook watching. Ma’am, I have a question from Twitter from @XpeanutgalleryX, “Some who trust Leni, are undecided on Mar. What can she tell people so they can see Mar as she sees him?”
Leni: Ako kasi I wouldn’t have accepted the offer if it were not for Mar. Kilalang kilala ko si Sec. Mar because of my husband. My husband spoke very highly of him. Pero ngayon ko lang talaga siya lubusan nakita as a person. And I’ve seen a very different side of him. Parang dati kasi ang tingin ko sa kanya ang taas. Ang taas in the sense na yung ang hirap maabot. He has been a friend of my husband pero parang all the time that I knew of him, before, ang tingin ko talagang napaka taas pero now that nakakasama ko siya, ano siya e, parang siguro all of us naman are in agreement na mahusay, matino, pero yung sinasabi sa kanyang EPAL, not at all. Kasi maraming mga okasyon na nagkakasama kami na pwede siyang umepal pero ayaw niya, nahihiya siya.
Parang parati niyang sinasabi na, pag inaaya kami ng mga local officials na sinasabi ng local official na “Punta tayo doon. Maraming dun tao. Pwede tayung sumingit.” Ayaw niya yon, kasi disrespectful. And ano siya, palaging concerned sa mga kasama, talaganag makikita mo na he only has the country’s best interest at heart. Parang pure yung puso. Ano lang talaga. Marami lang pinagdaanan na hindi lang perpekto yung sitwasyon na lahat ng sisi dinadala sa kanya na hindi naman siya perpektong tao.
Hindi siya perpektong tao pero ako naniniwala ako na of all the presidentiables siya yung pinaka karapatdapat na maging pangulo. Hindi lang dahil mahusay, hindi lang dahil matino, pero talagang yung kombinsayon ng dalawa na bihira nang makita sa isang public official. Very decent guy. Ano talaga, kahit yung mga anak ko. My daughters were so against my running, but when they finally did agree for me to run, Secretary Mar was the first person I called. Ang sabi ko sa kanya, “Sec., pumapayag na ang mga anak ko.” He invited the family over sa bahay niya. Pagdating na pagdating naming dun, he invited us for dinner. That was Saturday night, my announcement was on a Monday. Pagdating na pagdating naming for dinner, pag-upo namin, sabi ng panganay kong anak sa kanya, “Sec. kung hindi ikaw ito hindi talaga kami papayag.” Gusto kong sabihin na buo, buo yung tiwala amin. Syempre nandun yung pagnanais na sana kung paano namin siya nakikita, ganon din yung ibang tao.
JN: Thank you. Again we will have a chance to ask follow up questions but here’s another question, Tine?
KS: here’s a question about Secretary Mar, from Nelan, from the chat app line, “Bilang VP ni Mar Roxas, ano po ang epekto sa kandidatura ninyo ng mga paninira nila kay presidential candidate Mar Roxas?” So ano po ang effect nong mga negative na sinasabi po kay Mar Roxas sa inyong sariling kandidatura?
LR: Kahit papano dahil ako ang kanyang running mate naaaffect ako. Naaaffect in the sense na, maraming nagsasabi, “Sayo sana kami kaya lang ganito yung sinamahan mo.” Pero I think it’s part naman of the equation. Parang ganoon naman talaga. Hindi naman talaga perpekto parati yung sitwasyon. Pero ako, ako, proud ako na siya yung aking running mate. Kung ano yung mga negative, kasama naman yan, kasama yan sa kwento.
JD: Ma’am, yon nga,from Sec. Mar, recently you…Governor Pineda declared support for you and LP candidates, and it didn’t sit well with some people. So any message to your former supporters who lost faith with you when you allied with the Pinedas. This is from Twitter, from user @chillimed.
LR: Ako kasi, kami kandidato. Lahat naman namin hinihingian ng tulong. Pero Iba kasing usapan kapag yung tulong binigay sayo with conditions. Iba yung usapan na yung tulong sayo sinolicit mo and merong mga pinandaanang proseso. Remember that Governor Pineda is an incumbent governor na voluntarily binigay yung kanyang support sa amin na very thankful kami. Pero yung pagbibigay naman ng support wala namang condition walang hinihinging kahit ano. Sno naman to, na sana makita nila yung buong picture, kasi parang mahirap naman na mapanghusga tayo masyado. Siguro tignan natin yung mga kondisyon na binigay. Yung suporta. Kami naman nagpapasalamat kami sa suportang binigay. Kasi yon naman, sabi ko nga kanina, voluntary yon binigay. Hindi ‘yon as if nag solicit ka tapos sinabing susuportahan kita basta ganito, o susuportahan kita basta suportahan mo yung ganito. Wala naming ganun.
JN: Okay ma’am, from Mar to Marcos, here’s actually an angry post from Facebook from Tess Delos Santos. Let me just read the first few lines. “Bakit ba sa lahat ng kandidato, pilit mong sinisira si Senator Bongbong Marcos? Sa palagay mo ba siya lang ang makasalanan sa mundo ng politika? Hindi pa ba mulat ang isip mo sa mga nangyayari sa ating kapaligiran? Gaano ba kalinis ang pagkatao mo?”
LR: Ako, ako naman palagay ko tama siya in the sense na wala naman sa ating perpekto. Wala naman sa ating perpekto kahit naman ako. Hindi naman ako paragon of virtue. Marami din naman akong mga mali na nagagawa. Pero yung sa atin lang kapag nagkakamali kasi tayo o may mali, kailangan lang i-acknowledge yung kamaliaan. Kasi yung problema lumalaki kapag hindi inacknowledge yung kamalian e. Kasi kapag hindi mo inacknowledge gusto mong sabihin, yung paniniwala mo tama yon. Yun yung nagca-cause sa ating ng anxiety na mayroong nangyaring mali in the past pero walang acceptance ng kamalian. Kung walang acceptance tapos io-offer mo yung sarili mo to a position as high as the vice presidency. Nandun yung danger na yung mga mali in the past na pinaglabanan natin, maraming nagbuwis ng buhay, maraming, ‘di ba parang maraming nag go through so much sufferings sa pakikilaban para makamtan natin yung kalayaan natin ngayon, tapos yung mga may contribution sa pagkakamali, walang acceptance nun. Yung danger na mauulit yun palaging nadyan, and ayaw natin yung mangyari. Pero yung sa atin naman hindi natin hinuhusgahan yung mga nagkakamali na tinanggap yung pagkakamali kasi lahat naman tayo, lahat tayo nagkakamali, kahit naman ako nagkamali in the past magkakamali pa rin in the future. Pero yung mahalaga inaccept natin yung pagkakamali, humingi tayo ng tawad, para maka move forward, pero pag sinabi mong, marami na ngang nag suffer, tapos sinabi mong walang mali don, ibang usapan yon.
KS: In case Sec. Mar doesn’t win for the presidency, @ElGrande from Twitter is asking Cong. Robredo, will you be and effective VP to a president Duterte?
LR: Ako naman, it’s part of the job description. Syempre, If we had the choice syempre gusto ko yung runningmate ko yung mananalo. Pero ang job description nung pag-apply namin, kabahagi yun na walang assurance na mananalo yung pangulo mo at kahit na hindi pangulo mo yung mananalo, kung ano yung commitment mong itutulong mo sa pangulo should be exactly the same commitment na ibibigay mo don sa mananalo. Nothing less than that. Kasi kung hindi mo ma pa-promise yung level of commitment na yon dapat di ka na kumandidato,’di ba? Kaya yung sa akin naman yung ma-aasure ko, of course I should have wanted for both of us to win, but if it is just me, I am promising now exactly the same commitment I’m promising Sec. Mar.
JD: “How will you adjust yourself if you win for the VP position but Mar doesn’t? “This is from Marian Louise Revilla.
JN: So in general.
LR: Oo. Ako, again uulitin ko lang, whoever wins the Presidency just in case I win the vice presidency would have my 100 percent trust and support pero yung para sa akin, yung first part of the question…Ano? Papano? How would you adjust… yung sa akin more on the personal side of it. Ako I have to insist on parang maintaining my core kasi ngayon nakikita ko yung mga big time na mga politiko na, parang I can’t imagine myself having a life like that na ibig sabihin hindi na ako makakapag-bus? Gusto mong sabihin hindi na ko makaka Uber? O makaka-taxi? Yung mga ganun. Yung mga ganong questions na hindi naman, hindi naman, it doesn’t follow ‘di ba? Pero naging, naging, ano lang, naging, ano yon, naging practice lang na pag VP ka, parang bigtime ka. You are expected to go around with a full entourage of security people pero it doesn’t have to be that way eh, ‘di ba? Parang ako, mas tinitignan ko na kapag ako binigyan non, the real challenge is to really redefine the office, na mas accessible, na mas, hindi accessible na sa politika pero yung mas accessible na government official. Kasi yon nga eh, if you want to be an inspirational guide, people should, ‘di ba relate to you. Kaya I think it is possible. I just have to parang, be stubborn about it.
JN: Ma’am, question from Klarine on twitter, “Ano po ang mga plano niyo sa sector ng edukayon? Masusulusyonan ba ang budget cut ng UP system?”
LR: Ako , dapat oo. ‘pag tinignan po nating ang budget ng ating gobyerno sa tertiary education, napaka baba nong per capita budget natin kumpara sa student budget ng mga katabi nating mga bansa. Dapat mapalitan ito kung gusto nating makapag-compete ang ating mga graduates with the graduates of our, hindi lang ng ating mga neighbors pero sa mga graduates ng ibang bansa. Kailangan bigyan natin ito ng mas maraming budget, hindi lang budget pagdating sa scholarships. That’s one. Ang sa akin lang, dapat ang kahirapan hindi iyan nagiging dahilan. Ayokong mag-promise na libre lahat kasi palagay ko mahirap naman yon. Pero yung sa aking lang yung pinaka-target ko na ang kahirapan dapat hindi siya nagiging dahilan para hindi makapag aral. Dapat may sapat na budget dun ang gobyerno.
Pero pangalawa, bigyan ng gobyerno ng mas maraming budget yung, atleast yung state colleges and universities na, yung teacher development, yung research, yung lahat ng facilities na kailangan para maging at par tayo sa ibang mga paaralan all over the world. Sana hindi tayo nag la-lag behind. Ano talaga, tingin ko yung gobyreno talaga, kailangang for the past 5 or so years natutukan natin yung basic education kahit napakahirap, naka-lusot na yung K-12. Ina-anticipate natin na maraming birthing pains ito pero the fact that it is already a policy of the government is one huge step towards, being at par with other countries pero eto, it’s really about time na tutukan na din itong tertiary education.
KS: So I know that rural development is one of your advocacies. Jason from Twitter wants to know, “What should the government do to encourage more young people to choose farming as a profession?”
LR: Dapat ayusin yung agriculture kasi unless and until hindi maging lucrative yung pagfa-farm wala talagang magkaka interest. Pwede mong i-incentivize yung mga estudyante by providing more scholarships dun sa mga batang kumuha ng kurso sa agriculture pero hanggang konti yung income from agriculture, kahit anong gawin mong pagbigay ng scholarships o pagdagdag ng resources sa mga agricultural schools wala ring maeengganyo. Parang nursing lang yan na maraming nakaka pangibang bansa, andaming kumukuha ng nursing. Naging uso yung PT, ganun din. Sa Agriculture ganun din. Kapag nakita ng mga kabataan na magiging maayos yung buhay nila kapag sila ay mga magsasaka, maraming magsasaka. Ngayon kung titignan natin ang average age ng farmer is 57 years old. Nakakalungkot yon in the sense na dadating yung, kapag hindi natin naayos ito, dadating yung panahon na wala nang magsasaka. Kailangan talagang tutukan yung agriculture, kasi yung sa akin papatutukan ito mas bigyan sana ng focus yung food secutiry rather than self sufficiency kasi talagang marami tayong disadvantages kapag pinilit natin yung self sufficiency ng hindi natin tinitignan yung food security. Nung naging congressman ako ng distrito ko, yung agriculture sa distrito ko mas inano ko talaga siya sa food security. Para lang yung mga pinaka mahihirap na magsasaka maiangat man lang yung buhay kasi kung titingnan natin hindi lang magsasaka kundi pati mangingisda. Kung titingnan natin yung kanilang sa most poor una yung fisher folks, number two yung farmers. And nakakalungkot kasi eto pa naman yung opportunity para satin kasi by and large agricultural country tayo.
JD: This is a question from Maj Dizon from Facebook. “In what areas need woman to be more empowered or have more participation and what will you do to enable women to participate further?”
LR: Ako number 1 sa’kin economic empowerment. And I’m saying this because, ako I am saying this because I’ve been lawyering for battered women. I belong to an NGO before and one of the sectors of society that we have been helping are women. Maraming mga kaso ng violence inside the homes. Marami kaming nirerescue, tinutulungan, we have been training women leaders on how to deal with victims of violence. Tine-train namin yung mga barangay officials kung paano magrerespond to violence pero walang nangyayari hanggang yung babae hindi economically empowered kasi kahit pa alam niyang nasa abusive relationship siya, talagang bumabalik at bumabalik siya para lang huwag mawalay sa mga bata. Kaya sa amin, when we realized that that was the gap, ang dinevelop talaga namin economic empowerment for women.
Yung ginawa talaga naming siniguro na matulungan yung mga kababaihan na mapadali ang struggle niya between family and home. Halimbawa, yung mga nagoopisinang kababaihan na malaking percentage nito somewhere along the way nag re-resign sa trabaho kasi walang mag-aalaga sa mga anak. Yung sa amin sinubukan namin na mag-require sa mga malalaking opisina na magkaroon ng child minding centers para yung mga pumapasok na kababaihan, hindi na siya nafe-face with the daily struggle, ‘o iiwan ko ba ang anak ko o magta-trabaho ako?’ Kasi kung madadala niya na yung anak niya sa trabaho, may facility na aalagaan yon, makakapag trabaho na siya nang maayos. Hindi na niya kailangang i-give up ang kanyang trabaho. Yung mga kababaihan naming hindi talaga pwedeng umalis ng bahay, dahil nag-aalaga ng mga anak, bigyan ng pagkakataon na kahit nag-aalaga sila ng mga anak may chance pa rin silang makapag hanap buhay kahit konti kasi yung konting income na yon nakakadagdag sa kanilang self confidence.
Yung sa amin, yung ginawa namin kasi, madali lang sabihin yung livelihood, pero hanggang hindi mo siya kinonek sa market, hanggang di mo siya kinonek sa demand, nafu-frustrate lang sila eh. Training nang training, after the training, gagawa ng produkto. Tapos wala naman mapapapuntahan yung produkto nila. So kami yung trinabaho namin, ite-training sila sa mga bagay na mayroon nang market para sigurado nang may kita. Eto, kapag economically empowered na kasi yung babae, everything follows. Nagiging mas confident siya, mas participative na siya. Mas participative na sa community. Mas may oras na siya para sa lahat, kasi yung confidence niya nandun. Pero kapag hindi economically empowered, parang she is ready to take abuse any time kasi may feeling of dependence. Yun yung ayaw nating mangyari. Parang it is one thing to say na, isigaw, gender equality, etc, etc, pero hindi naman nila naiintindihan ang rural women. Yung mga gender sensitivity trainings parang madali lang ‘tong sabihin sa upper tsaka middle class pero sa mga rural women na hindi naman masyadong exposed, mas naiintindihan nila yung economic empowerment. Kaya yung mas practical, ano ba ang magdadagdag ng pagkain sa lamesa? Kasi kapag meron eto kahit konti, ang laking incremental increase sa paniniwala nila sa sarili. Pag naniniwala sila sa sarili, mas mabuti silang asawa, mas mabuti silang ina ng mga anak nila.
JN: Ma’am, given your perspective, your emphasis on rural development, your experience in providing food security to the farmers in your district, sa tingin niyo ano ba talagang nangyari sa Kidapawan and how could it have been avoided?
LR: Ako kasi, as of now, we’re hearing a lot of voices. Parang wala ako sa lugar para sabihing eto ang tama, eto ang mali. Of the voices we are hearing, gusto ko lang ilagay sa tamang perspective na yung finger pointing kasi hindi nakakabuti in the sense na, palagay ko ang first question ay may legitimate bang problema? Kung merong legitimate na problema, ang tanong ano ang ginagawa natin para I address yung legitimate na problema? Kasi tayo ang gobyerno. Kung yung claim na infiltrated yung ating mga farmers ang tanong nating sunod, bakit nangyayari? Tas bakit natin hinayaang mangyari? Yung ano lang, tingin ko kasi yung mga maraming boses lahat naman may katwiran. Lahat may katotohanan yung mga sinasabi. Para ilagay lamang sa tamang, mas tinitingnan ko siya sa problem solving point of view na sabihin na nating may kasalanan ang lahat, what now? Anong gagawin natin ‘di ba?
May kasalanan yung pulis, may kasalanan yung gobyerno, may kasalanan yung magsasaka, may kasalanan yung left na nag infiltrate, pero sabihin na natin na totoo yon lahat, ano na yung gagawin natin? Yung sa akin lang, sana hindi ma muddle yung issue with sisihan kasi pag na-muddle yung issue with sisihan baka nakakalimutan natin na talagang mas marami na hindi naman kalahok don pero talagang nag su suffer nong legitimate na claims. Again, wala ako sa posisyon na sabihin na “ikaw yung tama, ikaw yung mali,” pero ang sinasabi lang natin balik lang tayo sa basics . Ano yung problema? Totoo bang nangyayari yung problema? Bakit nangyayri at anong gagawin natin? Yon lang. Tapos yung investigation should be ongoing but without sacrificing the fact that indeed there may have been many farmers out there na who are getting hungry. Yun lang. Yung sa akin, gusto ko naman malaman kung ano yung tunay na nangyari pero sana maseparate siya from, i-treat siya na incident, pero tingnan yung mas bigger picture. Ao ba yung pwede nating magawa ‘dun sa mga naghihirap na mga kababayan natin.
KS: Going back to the electoral campaign. I don’t know if you have seen it in Facebook but you have supporters who were promoting badges pairing you up with other presidential candidates.
LR: I have not seen any of them yet.
KS: And in the past you have been paired up with the likes of Senator Grace Poe for example…
LR: I have seen a poster pero yung badges hindi ko pa nakita.
KS: So of all the other presidential candidates, excluding Mar Roxas, who would you be most comfortable be working with?
LR: Ako I really cannot say. I do not know anyone of them naman personally. I only know of Secretary Mar. Parang Vice President Binay I only know of him. I don’t even know if we’ve met already personally. Si Mayor Duterte, I know of him pero mukhang hindi pa din kami nagmeet personally. Senator Grace, I met her a few times but not enough time to really get to know her so I cant really say kung kanino ako magiging kumportable.
JD: Ma’am, this may be a personal question but what do you do when you start feeling tired after campaigning and going around the country? What keeps you going?
LR: Ako, I am weird that way eh. Kasi parang before the official campaign period started, I was already going around introducing myself but I was given one day off every week. Yung one day off parang sinasabihan ako ng campaign team na that’s your day to really catch on sleep, to rest, pero I can’t seem to do that kasi pag umuuwi ako sa bahay, nanay pa din. Nag-aayos ng lahat ng kailangan ayusin. I was a very organized person before I became a candidate. Tapos yon yung chance ko na mag-catch up on organizing. Organizing the things of my children, yung papers, yung lahat sa bahay. Buti nalang maliit yung bahay ko kaya the very little time I have mukhang sufficient naman pero I’m not the type kasi who would sleep all day. I envy people who can eh. May mga kakilala ako eh na when they want to sleep they ca do several of hours eh. Ako I sleep anywhere. Sanay ako nun. When I’m in the car, I sleep. When I’m in the plane, I sleep. Pero hindi yung pag nasa bahay, I’d rather spend time with the kids. Pag umuuwi ako, like ngayon, umuuwi ako kadalasan late na. Kapag umuuwi ako, yung dalawa kong anak nag aaral pa. We live in a condo, maliit na maliit lang, so ang ginagawa ko, habang nag aaral sila sa living room, dun lang ako. Dun na ko nakakatulog. Pag ready na silang pumunta sa bedroom, ginigising nila ako, “Ma, tutulog na.” Pero that’s how I distress. Before I still had time to watch with my kids or eat out, pero now, not anymore. Parang I’d rather stay with them while their studying.
JN: okay. Time to move on to our third round. We actually have a lot of questions but we only have like 12 minutes left. First of all id like to thank the 5400 live viewers on Facebook and the 2000 live viewers online, on air. Thank you for following us. I have a question here from Twitter. I already asked a question from this guy but let me ask it again, ask a question from him again, @XpeanutgalleryX, “A lot of kids like Leni, what can she tell these kids that the Philippines do not need K-12?”
LR: Ako eh, it’s necessary for us to be able to compete with the other countries. We’re the only, we’re one of the only two countries of the world na hindi pa K-12. Mahirap para sa mga graduates natin na makipag-compete sa iba knowing na tayo may 10 years lang of basic education, yung iba 12 years. Ano to, its painful, like yung anak ko grade 10 now, dapat sana graduate na siya this year. Pero K-12 kaya syempre naiinis siya kasi sana college na siya pero 2 years pa siya ng high school but I always explain to her that it is for her own good and then ano naman ito, it’s preparatory to college.
Again, hindi ito perpekto. Parang it is a necessary evil we need to contend with pero in the long run tayo din ang magbe-benefit. Mahirap siya sa umpisa in the sense that naghahabol pa tayo sa facilities, syempre yung sinasabi ko kanina, birthing pains. Nag-aadjust pa sa bagong sistema pero ano to eh, parang, halimbawa, ang kwento ko sa anak ko, magiging guinea pigs kayo kasi kayo yung first batch ng K-12 pero I think its for the good of everyone. Ako I just can imagine kung ano yung frustrations ng mga kids na gusto nang mag graudate this year and be in college next year. Pero yon, sila yung sakripisyo in one sense per in the end sila rin yung magbe-benefit nito.
JN: Thank you, Tine?
KS: This is from Line, “Ma’am how ca we save the Spratly Islands while there are claims and threats from countries like China?”
LR: Malaking problema yun. Malaking problema. Yung una nating ginawa, nag-submit tayo sa isang arbitration na proseso. I think should really be done by the country. Pero while waiting, while waiting for the International Court of Justice to decide, hindi naman pwedeng naghihintay lang tayo nang walang ginagawa. Marami tayong pwedeng gawin. Halimbawa, yung modernization ng military, pwede yung pagukulan ng pansin. Kung hindi tayo magmo-modernize, parang parati tayong at the mercy ng other countries dahil hindi natin kayang i-defend physically yung ating sariling bansa. Number two, baka pwedeng i-strengthen natin yung diplomacy efforts with the other countries na meron ding claims against China. Kasi tingin ko kapag nagkaisa tayo lahat sa pakikilaban na to mas malakas yung boses natin. Yung bargaining power mas malakas kung yung countries like Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines, magkaisa na parang isang boses lang yung ipapakita. Pangatlo, patuloy pa rin na maghanap ng peaceful means of settling the case with China. Pero mas mabuti yung multi-lateral approach, hindi bilateral kasi alam natin ngayon na yung China ano pa considered more powerful than the Philippines still. Parang wala tayong, hindi tayo equal footing, kaya mabuti talagang, pero hindi sumusuko. Pag sinabi kong hindi sumusuko, hindi natin nilalagay ang lahat ng eggs natin in one basket na yung arbitration case. Dapat patuloy na hinahanap na ang end nito parating yung sovereignity natin yung pinaglalaban.
JD: Ma’am this is a question from Twitter. Balik lang tayo sa Kidapawan incident. Among the VP candidates, it’s you who gave a sensible statement, sensible statement according to the Twitter user, on the Kidapawan issue, “Did you dare to share or discuss this to PNoy and Mar Roxas? Your views on this? What did they say to you?” and follow up to this “If you were the president or the vice president, what would you have done immediately after the violent dispersal?”
LR: I haven’t had the chance to discuss this with either the president or Secretary Mar. hindi ako nagkaroon ng pagkakataon. I was with Secretary Mar that day although ano kasi kami, that day happened magkasama kami, parang I was on the phone all the time coordinating efforts with the other local government officials. Pero sa akin lang kailangan mas, kailangan very swift yung action, paparamdam sa, una yung paghahanap ng solusyon dun sa insidente pero like I said earlier, na pwera dun sa paghahanap ng solusyon in that case investigation mas tutugunan din ng pansin yung root cause ng problema ta’s magbigay ng klarong mensahe sa constituents na seryoso sa paghahanap ng solusyon sa problema kasi paminsan seryoso naman yung solusyon na ginagawa pero hindi naco-communicate nang maayos so paminsan yung iba may impression na walang ginagawa. Paminsan may impression na dapat sana ganito pero hindi ginawa na well in fact oo naman hindi lang na communicate properly. So tingin ko yun, na kung tanggapin kaagad, kung merong pagkakamali, kung merong accountable pasagutin, ‘di ba, pasagot agad dun sa mga accountable.
Ang importante dito buo yung tiwala ng mga mamamayan kung may imbestigasyon na hindi magiging bias. Kahit pa alam mo na hindi magiging bias importante rin yung messaging, na paano ito magiging importante, yung mga kalahok doon sa operations, parang ipasantabi muna, hindi sumali sa imbestigasyon para hindi mabahiran ng pagtingin na may white wash na mangyayari. Kasi parati namang ganun, na kapag gobyerno ka, hindi lang importante yung gignagawa mo pero importante na naco-communicate mo ng maayos yung ginagawa para yung tao nararamdaman niyang hindi siya outsider. Alam mo kasi kapag yung tao nararamdaman niyang hindi siya bahagi ng gobyerno parati siyang may distrust. Yun yung dapat na naaalis—yung distrust. Palagay ko yung gobyerno should exert more effort na mag-reach out sa constituency, ipaliwanag na kung ano yung ginagawa at saan yung direction nong ginagawa para lang maramdaman ng constituency na kabagahi siya.
JN: Ma’am with our few minutes left, we’re trying to ask many questions as we can. [Can we have] one sentence answers? You said you don’t want to be a big-time politician, in the sense that you’ll be going around with bodyguards and all that. Are you saying that if you become vice president, you won’t take the bus home to Naga anymore?
LR: I will still take the bus to Naga. Siguro ang magiging compromise niyan may kasama na ako. Kasi all the time I take the bus alone eh. Even now that I am already a candidate I still take the bus alone pero siguro pwedeng may kasama kang staff o, pero, ito yung hindi mo na-istorbo yung mga tao kasi yon yung pinaka masama. Yung pinaka ayoko is yung feeling na pumupunta ka sa lugar para makatulong pero yung pinuntahan mo sila pa yung naistorbo dahil pumunta ka. Nararamdaman ko yon sa ibang pinupuntahan namin na, you know, you’re going there at 2 o’clock in the afternoon and people are made there to wait for you for several hours. ‘Di ba, parang pumunta ka nga para makatulong bakit nakakaistorbo ka pa. Yun yung pinaka resistance ko dun sa bigtime na, kung tutulong ka siguraduhin mo na yung net effect ng pagpunta mo nakatulong.
KS: You said that you don’t have an ambition for presidency so you could focus on the VP but several people actually ask this in social media, are you ready to become president if something happens?
LR: Pero kasali kasi yan sa job description, ‘di ba? Ang job description ng vice president magiging presidente ka kung something happens to the president. Pero iba ito doon sa pag-aambisyon. Yung pag aambisyon hindi doon pinag-uusapan ang readiness eh. Pero yung pag-aambisyon na baka sa pag-ambisyon mo magamit mo sa mali yung posisyon but it doesn’t mean na hindi ka mag aambisyon kasi ‘di ka ready because when you aspire for the vice presidency, parang you take an oath that you’re ready to become president anytime,’di ba?
JD: Ma’am are there any agendas in the Daang Matuwid that you want to change or you want to personally over see?
LR: ‘Di naman. Because when we crafted our platforms, parang I was given a voice in it eh. Kaya kung ano yung pinapalabas ngayon na platform ng Daang Matuwid, it was jointly prepared by both of us. Yung sa akin, marami nang ginawa ang administrasyon na ito pero marami pang ‘di nagagawa. Halimbawa yung ekonomiya natin bumuti na pero yung inclusive growth hindi pa ramdam talaga so kailangan mas paigtingin na siguraduhin na yung gains ng administrasyon na ‘to makapunta siya dun sa kung kanino talaga siya dapat mapunta. Marami nang anti-poverty programs ngayon yung gobyerno pero andami nang natanggal sa statistics ng poverty incidence pero marami pa rin naiwan. So talagang kulang pa. yung platform naman ng Daang Matuwid hindi naman niya sinasabing ipagpapatuloy lang niya ang nasimulan ng administrasyon na ‘to. Sabi niya lang, ito na yung mga nagawa, ito pa yung mga kelangan niyang gawin.
JN: Ma’am I hope you don’t mind if we extend a few more minutes. Again maybe I can ask you a series of questions. What are you proudest of in your first term as congresswoman ?
LR: Ako, that I was able to change the mindsets of my constituency. Parang, meron paba or one liner lang? Kasi ibang iba yung mindset before. Yung tinitingnan nila yung congressman hingian ng tulong pero when I became congresswoman alam nila na hindi ako nagbibigay from my own pocket. Alam nila na everything comes from government and they have to earn everything. Gaya nang ginawa ng asawa ko sa Naga. I think in a way although 3 years is not merely enough, I think in a way nararamdaman na ng aking constituents that they are part of government, they have a stake in it, that they’re not just beneficiaries. They are partners in development, they are stakeholders, they have a stake in all the successes and failures of government. Ngayon tingin ko mas proud na sila sa sarili nila. Wala kaming dole out, walang libre. Lahat dapat pinagpapaguran and it’s so different from the past administrations sa mga nauna sa’kin na when I was starting…na kahit yung mga kakampi ko na kasi yung distrito ko is Naga plus seven towns eh. Parang my husband was able to transform Naga but not the neighboring towns. When I was campaigning for the 2013 national elections, maraming parinig sakin na kala mo pwede yan dito samin, pwede lang yan sa naga pero dito samin iba. Kung hindi ka susunod sa nakasanayan dito, hindi ka mananalo. Parang ako nagbibingi-bingihan, wala naman talaga akong maibibigay. Pero when I was given the chance to lead, and I was able to show them na pwede naman pala na ganito. Pwede naman pala na tayong magtutulungan na hindi lang kayo aasa sa akin, na kapag tayo nagtutulungan mas marami pa tayong maaachieve. Ngayon ano, I think everyone in my district except of course my built in political enemies, pero I think, almost everyone in my district would agree na we were much better now than 3 years ago.
JN: Ma’am, win or lose in the vice presidential contest, you won’t be returning to Congress. What will you miss most?
LR: In Congress, I think the constituency work. It’s what I enjoy the most more than my legislative works. And maybe because I am more at home being with ordinary people than rubbing elbows with colleagues. Ano ‘yon, sessions are from Mondays until Wednesdays but I look forward to Wednesdays when after going out of Congress, I go straight to Cubao, to the bus terminal, board the bus, travel for 10 hours. I don’t mind it at all because alam ko na pagdating ko dun, gagawin ko yung gusto kong ginagawa. Sa Congress palaging may lethargic na feeling parang umupo ka lang the whole day attending committee hearings pagod na pagod ka pero when I’m in my district naglalakad ako. Minsan three hours each day, hindi ako napapagod. Maybe because it’s something I love doing kaya siguro if I lose this election, I’ll go back to development work. It was my work before I became a congresswoman. Ngayon na-rerealize ko its what I love doing.
JN: Ma’am the only official vice presidential debate is in a few days, Sunday, April 10, if the format allows you to ask a question to your fellow candidates, what questions would you ask?
LR: Naku! Baka mapaghandaan… (laughter)
JN: What kind of questions would you like to ask, let’s say it’s Chiz Escudero.
LR: Chiz? Siguro ako tinitignan ko depende kung ano yung mas sasabihin nila dun eh and most probably my rebuttal would be to ask them some points about their statements like yung ‘Go Negosyo Forum’ four of us were there. ‘Dun ni-rebutt ko si Chiz because sinabi niya na eto yung programa ko para sa mahihirap and I reminded him that it is already an ongoing program of the government so there was really nothing new, parang ganun. Siguro mag re-react lang ako sa mga sasabihin.
JN: Ma’am, can we get a definitive answer from you, if you become vice president you are not going to stay in the Coconut palace. It’s going to be like a coconut condo? So that’s gonna be?
LR: Siguro, I don’t know eh. I don’t really know. Basta yung hindi na mag i-spend yung gobyerno. Kung ano yung available dyan, hindi naman ako sanay sa magandang opisina. Even my office in Congress is very basic, very bare. It’s a…gaano ba yon kalaki? Na wala na ngang galawan. Sanay naman ako sa ganun. Ako basta yung basic lang nandun it doesn’t have to be, it’s not like I will be entertaining people kasi kung mage-entertain, pwede naman gamitin yung Malacanang sa pag entertain. Pero yung ayoko lang, ang akin lang, mas symbol, mas symbolic yung pag-ayaw. Yung ostentatiousness kasi nung lugar. I think we will be sending the wrong message to our people. Pag sinabi kong I want to be an inspirational guide tapos nag-oopisina ako sa isang napakagandang lugar parang ironic yon. Gusto ko pag sinabi kong I want to be one with the people, pati yung symbolisms nandun.
JN: Ma’am you are a champion of Freedom of Information Bill and you work with Senator Grace also, so what really happened? How come it didn’t pass? What is the reason?
LR: Malaki talaga yung resistance sa House of representatives and we didn’t have enough time to convince people. Unang una yung version. There were 24 versions of the bill in the House. Sa Senado isa lang yung version eh. Sa amin we have 24 versions, 36 authors, so it was really painful just going through the technical working group hearings. It took us a year to finish the technical working group version. Yung kabutihan lang non, na-pick up yung version ko.
Yung version kasing lumabas sa Senate demand driven yung FOI which means that nakalagay don sa version ng Senate if people demand information from government, government is obliged to make public the information. Yung akin naman, kinonvert ko yon into supply driven one na when there’s no demand it’s already the obligation of the government to make public that information.
Maraming problema like halimbawa nong umpisa, sinasabi nila na Malacanang was against it. Well, Malacanang wasn’t really against it. I’m speaking from 2013 down kasi I don’t know what happened before 2013 but when I was trying to draft my own version of the bill, sinabi ng Palasyo kung ano ang kanilang anxieties about the traditional version of the bill.
Halimbawa, ang tanong nila, kung tama yung sinasabi nila. Halimbawa, this is a room full of people, sabihin natin meron tayong 100 people dito. :ahat tayo mag-rerequest from one office ng iisang document. Yung opisina, obligadong bigyan ang isa’t isa na sinasabi ng Malacanang hindi ba masyadong tedious yun na gusto bang sabihin na bawat opisina maglalagay kami ng separate office just to take care of all FOI requests? Tama naman siya. So papano natin sinagot yung kanyang concern. Sinagot natin yon by making it supply driven na hindi mo na hihintayin na may mag-request from you. Obligasyon mo nang i-upload yung information. Ang sunod na tanong, papano kung yung gusto kong information wala dun sa in-upload? That’s the time that you make the request pero mas ginagawa mong mas efficient yung bureaucracy. Tsaka ang tanong natin, bakit tayo may FOI? Hindi naman ito para maghanap tayo ng mali, hindi naman ito parang nagwi-witch hunt tayo pero mayroon tayong FOI kasi gusto nating I empower yung citizens by access to information.
Gusto nating i-train yung tao na ito yung available sa inyong information, mag engage kayo sa government. Kasi pag sinabing FOI, karamihan sa mga politiko yun yung concern na kapag may FOI baka abusuhin ng media. Yung iba gusto ng right of reply, na yon, kinontra naming yon, nanalo yung walang right of reply. Pero parang nakakalimutan kasi kung ano yung tunay na sadya ng FOI. Parang tinitignan ang FOI na laban between government officials and media and it’s not the case at all. Parang may FOI para mas engaged yung citizens sa governance ‘di ba so yun din. Yung pag change din ng mindset.
JN: Ma’am, maybe last 2 or 3 questions. Let’s talk about the vice presidential race again. It’s a very close contest, in the same way that the presidential is also close. What is your reading of the vice presidential race? Would the first candidate to reach 30 percent…I mean, are we looking to a 30 percent mandate?
LR: Alam mo, John, I’m the worst person to ask about this because I don’t know politics at all. The people in my team are the one making the analysis, parang ako, I just approach people and ask for help. Itong pag-aanalyze wala talaga.
JN: How about the latest survey show that you’re like Mar, very strong in the Visayas. You’re in the high 30s. Like 19 percent in balance Luzon. Does that mean, in the last 32 days, we won’t see you in the Visayas. You’ll be spending more time in Metro Manila.
LR: Hindi naman. Actually, I will be spending more time in Manila and in Luzon. Kasi yun naman kasi yung strategy naming from the very beginning. Unahin ang malalayo. Ihuli ang malalapit. And it’s been reflected in the surveys. Parang in Manila, I’m sad-sad. Hindi ko alam kung I’m 15 or 12 in the latest polls. That’s way below the frontrunners in Manila. I think the frontrunner is in the high 30s. So talagang, if you look at the rest of the country, I’m okay, except of course sa Northen Luzon, pero sa Metro Manila talaga is an area where I have to exert more effort campaigning. Ako kasi I always go with gut feel, wala akong scientific na… even then. Parang I depend on people who are more experienced in handling elections. Ako naman I’m very hardworking. I don’t mind the long hours. It’s something that going around and being with people is something I really enjoy.
JN: Did you get sick on the campaign period?
LR: Yes, once. I got sick. I think – when was that? I think, Feb, ‘no? I got sick in Feb, pero I didn’t stop. Parang sayang din ako sa oras. Parang I remember, I was sick for 3 to 4 days. Ang ginagawa ko we were hopping from one sortie to another. I just told Secretary Mar na, “Sec, can I stay in the car?” Kasi I was having chills. I had very high fever. At sabi ni Sec. Mar, pinapauwi na nga ako, “Magpahinga ka na.” Sabi ko, “Hindi,” kasi naghahabol ako I was, I think 11% at that time. Sabi ko, “Sayang.” When it’s time for me to speak I go in, do the works. Actually, when I’m speaking in front of the crowd I don’t feel sick at all eh. Pero pagkatapos ko, uupo ako, at dun na naman, magchichills na naman ako. Babalik na naman ako sa sasakyan. I did that for about four days. Pero after that I was okay again. Ano lang ako, Berocca queen – talagang…
JN: Okay, our first product placement. Hindi naming nadala yung berocca. Ma’am, if you don’t mind my asking, President Aquino is the most popular president since the times surveys were conducted. And yet, his anointed, it doesn’t seem to translate, is that a fair perception? The popularity doesn’t seem to translate Daang Matuwid Program or his chosen candidate. Or do you think there’s another explanation?
LR: I think it’s a combination of a few things. Yung una, baka, parang yung perception of the president is despite yung mga pagkukulang ng administrasyon, eh, nirereklamo ng marami. Kinikilala siya na naging matino. Kinikilala siyang maraing ginagawa in the sense that we’re really much better off now than we were, before he became president. I think yun yung recognition. Pero siguro ang pagkukulang, I think because also Secretary Mar has been his own person also in the past na hindi lang siya shadow ng pangulo. So ano yun, plus minus. Plus minus in the sense na, yung minus nun, meron siyang sarili na baggages. Hindi lang yung baggage ng administration ang dala niya, pati yung sarili niyang baggages.
If we look back, maraming mga controversial ang pinagdaanan yung ating bansang kahirapan na si Secretary Mar ang nasa forefront. And, Yolanda, Zamboanga, Bohol, etcetera, etcetera. Syempre hindi naging perpekto ang sitwasyon. At dahil si Secretary Mar ang mukha no’n. Dahil siya naman talaga ang lumusong dun ‘yung pagsisi nasa kanya and I think it has been very unfair to him. Not that I’m saying that naging perpekto lahat ng mga solusyung ibinigay niya. Pero ang tanong ko lang sarili ko ngayon. Totoong maraming pagkukulang. Let’s say Yolanda, marami talagang pagkukulang. Pero looking back now would it have been better if hindi na lang siya pumunta at natulog na lang sa bahay nila? Kasi kung natulog na lang siya sa bahay nila, wala sa kanya yung sisi sa Yolanda, di ba? Yung iba hindi sinisisi sa Yolanda kasi wala naman sila doon. So yung parang unfairness of the situation. Halimbawa, yung Zamboanga. Nando’n siya, I think for 18 days, 16 days, I’m not really sure. Marami ding bumabatikos, pero ang tanong again, would it have been better kung na kang siya pumunta do’n? Kasi kung hindi siya pumunta dun, hindi na siya nasisi. Parang yun naman yung tinitignan ko, na halimbawa ako, I enjoy the privilege of not having as much baggage as my president. Kasi hindi pa naman ako public official noon. At wala pang ganoong expectation noon sa akin. Yung aking wish lang na, okay naman na mag-criticize. Pero yung judgements sana, tinitignan ang buong sitwasyon na yun nga, yung tanong na mas mabuti pang wala na lang siya doon para hindi siya nasisi. Sinulong niya yung problema, hinarap niya yung problema, hindi naging perpekto yung ginawa. Pero ngayon, tinatanggap niya yung kritisismo na siguro yung iba, deserve. Yung iba, unfair din. Nalulungkot din ako para sa kanya. Pero I think it’s the challenge of the campaign.
JN: What was the most memorable sortie of all? In the first sixty days.
LR: Marami din. Ako mismo, yung sa ‘kin mas memorable kasi I always ask my campaign team. Aside from, I don’t know if you noticed. Humihiwalay ako for one hour, sinisingit ko yung gusto kong gawin. Halimabwa, when I went to Pampanga. Wihout media ‘to, umakyat ako sa Mount Pinatubo. Pumunta sa Porac. Binisita ko yung mga Aetas do’n. Hindi ako nagspeech, pero ako lang yung emcee ng program. Nagpapavolunteer lang ako sa kanila kung sinong kakanta, sinong sasayaw. Para happy. Siya yung nagbibigay good vibes sa akin.
Halimbawa, pumunta ako sa Bukidnon. Nag-set aside ako ng one hour, mineet ko yung mga representatives ng seven different tribes. Kasi ito yung trabaho ko dati. Ang trabaho ko dati yung talaga ang mga dati kong katrabaho. Ano lang, I’m just giving myself a sense of parang balance. Kasi yung sorties talaga while you’re enjoying being with people, ano siya eh, parang sometimes, it becomes mechanical. Na you jump from one sortie to another. Minsan tinatanong nga namin, “Nasaan na ba tayo?” Parang you lose yourself and these small things, ano ‘to, gathering of 20 people, very small gatherings. Without media, without anyone else, pero parang food for my soul yun. Eto yung nageenergize sa kin.
JN: Ma’am, thank you. We are 22 minutes past the time. Maybe I can just ask for a few words to address to the audience, multiple audiences.
LR: Ako lang I would just like to thank the Inquirer for giving me this chance to speak to our audience. It’s always an opportunity for me. When I started in this campaign, almost nobody knew me. Kaya every opportunity to share my story, opportunity to share my thoughts on issues, is really a big opportunity for me to (tell) people who Leni Robredo is. Kasi everywhere I go, I am always introduce as the widow of Jessie. Something I’m very proud of because my husband naman aay mabait at matino na public servant. But now that I’m offering myself for the vice presidency, people should know me better aside from my being as the widow of Jessie. And opportunity such as this will really be helpful in introducing myself to the people. So, thank you very much.
JN: Thank you, too. It is our pleasure to host you. Thank you very much, Congressman Leni Robredo. Thank you to our multiple audiences. We would like you invite to our next INQ & A with Senator Chiz Escudero.
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