MANILA, Philippines – Compared to her rivals for the vice presidency, Camarines Sur Representative Leni Robredo is a newcomer in the political scene.
The 51-year-old lawmaker from Naga began her career in politics in 2013, urged by supporters to continue the legacy left by her husband, former Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo. The multi-awarded local chief executive, praised for his leadership of Naga City for 19 years, died when his plane plunged into waters off the coast of Masbate in August 2012.
In the 2013 midterm elections, Robredo won overwhelmingly over rival Nelly Villafuerte, a member of the political clan that has ruled Camarines Sur for decades. (READ: Leni Robredo: Low-key political wife goes national)
While she initially dismissed the possibility of running for vice president in 2016 – saying it was "too soon" for a neophyte legislator – Robredo eventually accepted the Liberal Party (LP)'s offer to be the running mate of administration standard-bearer Manuel Roxas II. (READ: Leni Robredo: I can't refuse call to serve)
As part of Rappler’s #PHvote “The Leader I Want Series,” we look at Robredo's stand on issues that the next vice president is expected to help the president tackle: corruption, social inequality, climate change and disasters, overseas Filipino workers, and peace in Mindanao.
What gains from the Aquino administration should she continue and which strategies should be changed? Tell us in the comments section below or tweet using #TheLeaderIWant why or why not Robredo should be the next vice president of the country.
As a member of the ruling Liberal Party, Robredo subscribes to the party's slogan of Daang Matuwid (straight path): the administration's promise of good governance and a campaign against corruption.
But Robredo refines this message further by centering on two things: people empowerment and transparency in government.
One of the bills she filed in Congress was the People Empowerment Bill of 2014, which seeks to create a “People's Council” in local government units (LGUs) to allow citizens to directly participate in policy-making.
Robredo was one of the legislators who supported the abolition of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) at the height of the pork barrel scam controversy. She also proposed a "performance-based" system where constituents can nominate projects that they want funded through lawmakers' pork barrel.
Instead of giving lawmakers sole discretion on the use of their PDAF, they can share that power with their constituents. Only LGUs with proven track records will be given priority access to the funds.
Robredo has also backed moves to improve transparency in government and make it easier for citizens to monitor how their leaders are spending public funds. Her first bill, the Full Disclosure Act of 2013, sought to require government agencies to fully disclose all financial transactions and documents of public interest.
Robredo is also one of the authors of the House version of the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill, which contains an open data provision requiring government agencies to upload project documents on the Open Data Philippines website.
The passage of the FOI bill was one of the campaign promises of President Benigno Aquino III, but 5 years into his presidency, the bill continues to languish in Congress. (READ: Aquino pushes for FOI bill a day after SONA)
A day after Aquino's last State of the Nation Address, Robredo said she was "hopeful" that the law will be passed before Aquino steps down next year.
Robredo ran on a promise to continue the good governance initiatives of her late husband to help poor and marginalized sectors of society.
In a speech last month, she said it was her role to "push for bills that will create Naga Cities across the country."
Robredo's approach to solving poverty involves providing employment opportunities to poor communities, and tapping their services for the city's own social programs.
It was an approach she adopted from the programs her husband used to implement when he was mayor of Naga.
To maximize the use of public funds for the city's social programs, the former mayor would tap local laborers and caterers to supply food for the city's feeding programs.
“With one set of funds, you are able to target income and health problems...The income being generated by the city are felt by the poor households,” Robredo said.
In August, she filed a bill that seeks to address hunger and malnutrition by creating a feeding program for children. This would be complemented by her proposal to provide a sustainable livelihood program for food producers.
Women's empowerment is also a key theme in Robredo's messages. She said women with no means of making a living on their own tend to stay in abusive relationships.
Robredo is pushing for livelihood skills classes to help women become financially independent.
CLIMATE CHANGE AND DISASTERS
Robredo believes in strengthening the rescue capabilities of barangay officials, noting their role as the first responders on the ground during an emergency.
She also emphasized the importance of having a disaster-proof development plan for local government units, and a stronger local disaster risk reduction council.
In the wake of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan)'s devastation in November 2013, Robredo called for a review of Republic Act 10121, the enabling law of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.
Robredo was one of the co-authors of House Bill 191, introduced by Pangasinan 3rd District Representative Rosemarie Arenas, which seeks to create a separate government agency for overseas Filipino workers. The proposed department would handle the deployment and repatriation of OFWs.
In May, the House of Representatives approved a proposed Anti-Mail Order Spouse Act, which sought to protect Filipinos from arranged marriage to foreign nationals through the postal service and the Internet. Robredo was one of the co-authors of the proposed measure.
PEACE IN MINDANAO
Robredo voted in favor of the proposed Bangsamoro basic law (BBL). She also signed a statement calling for the swift passage of the law that would "fulfill the promise of change in Mindanao in the form of a just and lasting peace."
"We desire a BBL that is responsive to the needs and issues of all inhabitants of the proposed Bangsamoro Region. We want a BBL that will truly correct the historical and present-day injustices that will ultimately lead us towards peace in Mindanao and in the entire country," the statement read.
With the measure now stalling in the aftermath of the bloody Mamasapano incident last January, Robredo said last month that there was still hope for the passage of the law.
The Manila Times quoted her saying, "If we voted down the BBL, it’s just like we emptied the space for the decades-long peace talks in Mindanao."
Robredo also backed House Bill 5442, which sought the creation of a Citizens' Commission for Justice in Mamasapano, an investigative body that would probe the bloody January clash between elite cops and Muslim rebels in Maguindanao. – Rappler.com
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