Vice President and presidential aspirant Leni Robredo on Thursday laid down her basic platform of governance as “empowerment of the last, the least, and the lost.”
Meanwhile, Robredo’s campaign, along with that of her running mate, Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, gained a significant boost after 84 Catholic priests in Quezon rallied behind them.
In a forum organized by the UP-CIFAL Philippines, in collaboration with the UP System Office of the Vice President for Public Affairs and the UP Internet TV Network, Robredo said she would use her office’s experience with its flagship Angat Buhay program to help achieve her campaign promise of a better life for all Filipinos.
The event was dubbed “Leaders in Focus: Embedding Sustainable Development in the Governance Agenda of Presidential Candidates.”
The organizers used the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)a set of 17 goals developed by the United Nations (UN) member states in 2015as a global call to action for a holistic approach to end poverty.
“From concept to execution, we want Angat Buhay to align with the big goal of empowering the last, the least, and the lost, and we did not need to look further than the SDGs for a framework of our objectives,” Robredo said in her opening statement.
She said the program’s success would be “but a fraction of the possibilities open to us should we be given the chance to work with wider pathways of governance.”
The 17 goals were grouped into five pillars – people, planet, peace, prosperity, and partnership, which served as the basis for the questions about the platforms of Robredo and the five other candidates who attended.
On reducing wealth inequality under the people pillar, Robredo said she would increase the minimum wage to bring it closer to the living wage guaranteed by the Constitution, and to help improve the lives of people working in the agricultural sector.
“Pag dating sa pagkain, agriculture sector ang susi dito. Noong 2018, ang mga magsasaka at mangingisda ang pinakamataas ang poverty incidence. Malamang, lumala pa ito dahil sa pandemya,” Robredo said. “Para matugunan ang mga pangangailangan nila, dodoblehin natin ang budget sa agrikultura.”
Robredo also said she would declare an education crisis, double the budget for education, and create a roadmap to improve learning outcomes.
The Vice President also addressed sustainable energy concerns, committing to increase the share of renewable energy and phase out coal, while fast-tracking the development of liquefied natural gas (LNG) sources for use as a transition fuel on the road to independence from imported fossil fuels.
Robredo, one of the co-authors of the original draft of the Bangsamoro Organic Law, affirmed the peace process with the Bangsamoro as a model to end other insurgencies. She said she would return trust in the system through a more consultative approach and listening to the grievances of insurgents.
She also emphasized economic growth must be favorable for all, not just a small segment of society.
“Ang overall goal ng economic agenda natin, iangat ang buhay ng lahat, lalong lalo ang mga nasa laylayan. Kaya nga ang plano natin, hanapbuhay para sa lahat,” said Robredo.
A key point in her plan is jobs for all – removing age discrimination and guaranteeing jobs through a public employment program. In closing, Robredo said she believes solutions to problems begin with consultation with the marginalized. She said she will seek the passage of a people empowerment law and restore bottom-up budgeting, so the people can participate in the process of governance.
In backing Robredo, the Catholic priests in Quezon cited her achievements as a public servant.
“After we have gathered and reflected, we are united in our stand to endorse the candidacy of Kiko Pangilinan as vice president and Leni Robredo as the country’s president in the May 9, 2022 elections,” their statement of support read.
“She is an intelligent and humble lawyer – abides by and respects the laws of the land, pays her taxes, and has presented a good platform of government that would uplift the lives of Filipinos,” the group said.
Even before Robredo entered politics, “she was already a public servant,” the document added.
“She reaches out to those at the fringes of society to help them as a lawyer, she walks with the poor to honor their dignity,” it added.
The priest said the Office of the Vice President had received the highest audit rating from the Commission on Audit in the past years.
“Never has Leni been involved in corruption. Her terms as a lawmaker and vice president were marked with excellence and transparency,” the group said.
“Just like Leni, Kiko is a good, truthful, brave and trustworthy public servant,” the group said.