Thursday, May 5, 2022

Reasons Why I'm Voting for Leni Robredo

To friends and acquaintances who are supporting either Marcos, Lacson, Pacquiao, Moreno, or de Guzman, here's my answer to your "why Leni".

1. She passes the "corruption check" with flying colors. This has been mentioned a million times already. But it needs repeating again. And again. And again. She's not corrupt. Her clean record speaks for itself. Everybody agrees that most of the ills and problems of the country today are due to corruption. Robredo has never been involved in any corruption issue. Ayaw mo ng corruption di ba? So sino iboboto mo? Yung kandidato na malinis ang record or yung kandidato na patong-patong ang kaso ng corruption?

2. She has the proper educational credentials. Credentials that are 100% real and verifiable. These are not manufactured in any way. She has an Economics degree from the University of the Philippines and a law degree from the University of Caceres. This country needs a president who studied law, a president who respects the law, a president who understands the lawmaking process. 

And yes, this country badly needs an economist as a leader. The economy is in shambles right now due to the pandemic. Fixing the economy is going to be among the top priorities of the next administration. An economic problem requires an economist. Sino ba sa mga kandidato ang ekonomista? Si Robredo.

Aside from her economics and law degrees, Robredo has been conferred with honorary doctorates from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (Doctor in Public Administration), the University of Saint Anthony (Doctor of Humanities), and the University of the Cordilleras (Doctor of Laws).

3. She has worked extensively in the development sector. Community development workers are a rare breed of people who often put the welfare of others over their own. If you want to know what problems communities are facing, talk to a development worker. If you want to know what solutions are needed to fix these problems, talk to a development worker. For years, Robredo has worked alongside development workers. She rubbed shoulders with them. She championed their causes. She supported their initiatives. 

For example, Robredo served as coordinator for the Sentro ng Alternatibong Lingap Panligan (SALIGAN) for 10 years. This is a group that encourages young legal professionals to offer their services to communities and residents who otherwise have no access to such services. Masakit sabihin pero we all know na hindi pa rin patas ang justice system dito sa bansa. Kung may pera kang pang-hire ng abogado, the justice system will more likely be on your side. Pag hindi mo kayang kumuha ng abogado, wala na, mahihirapan ka talaga. This is the reason why groups like SALIGAN exist. The group also helped rural women and farmers get funds to support their livelihoods.

4. She is against political dynasties. This is very important. It's equally important that she doesn't come from a political dynasty. Many Filipinos doesn't seem to realize that political dynasties are among the roots of corruption. Kung ang congressman, mayor, vice-mayor, at ilan pang mga nasa puwesto ay galing sa iisang pamilya, wala na, finished na. They can do whatever they want because there's no one there to question them. Political dynasties kill the concept of "checks and balances". 

We all agree that political dynasties cause corruption. Sino sa dalawang leading presidential candidates ang hindi galing sa isang political dynasty? Si Robredo. It's also worth mentioning here that in her previous stint as a congresswoman, Robredo co-authored a version of the Anti-Dynasty Bill. She has been very vocal against political dynasties. She's serious about it. There's a reason why she co-authored a bill against it.

5. She passes the recency check with flying colors. To apply the recency check, you go back and review what the candidate has accomplished in the past 6-10 years. Robredo was congresswoman from 2013 to 2016 and vice-president from 2016 to 2022. Within this time-frame, she has accomplished a lot. Her legislative portfolio is impressive kahit naging conresswoman siya for only 3 years. 

The first law she authored in Congress was the Full Disclosure Policy Bill which mandated that all government agencies fully disclose their budget and financial transactions. She authored the People Empowerment Bill. She authored the Participatory Budget Process Bill. She wrote the Comprehensive Anti-Discrimination Bill. She sponsored the house version of the Tax Incentives Management and Transparency Act of 2009 which promotes transparency in the taxation process. 

As congresswoman, she was the vice-chairman of the house committees on good governance, public accountability, and revision of laws, and a member of 11 other house panels. She supported the Bangsamoro Basic Law and she advocated for the Freedom of Information Act. Ilan lang ang mga ito sa mga nagawa niya bilang congresswoman. 

As vice-president, she spearheaded programs the most prominent of which is the Angat Buhay program. For the implementation of the program, her office partnered with hundreds of organizations all over the country. The program addresses six key advocacy areas namely public education, rural development, food security and nutrition, women empowerment, universal healthcare, and housing and resettlement. Given her office's limited budget, a huge chunk of the funds mobilized for the program are from the private sector. In short, she finds ways to get things done despite the hurdles and limitations.

Her office's work in response to the pandemic is also impressive. Her office provided free shuttle services for frontline workers, swab tests, telehealth services, and raised funds for relief operations across the country.

6. She elevated the Office of the Vice President to higher standards. The office of the vice-president is often described as a spare tire and rightly so. If you go back and look at the track records of previous vice-presidents, they really did not do much. Robredo is different. When she got elected, she made sure that her office was always busy pursuing programs and advocacies for the Filipino people.

7. She's an advocate of women empowerment and gender equality. There's a reason why she has the support of many women's groups and LGBTQ organizations. In 2016, Robredo travelled to Thailand to receive the "Honorary Outstanding Woman Award of the Year" from the Thai government. The Thai government cited her for her work in empowering women and pushing for gender equality. 

As a congresswoman, she wrote the Comprehensive Anti-Discrimination Bill which aimed to prohibit discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, race, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

As coordinator for SALIGAN, Robredo helped rural women find funding for their business ventures and livelihoods. Robredo also founded the Lakas ng Kababaihan ng Naga Federation. This is an organization that provides training and livelihood opportunities for women.

8. She is for government transparency. The office of the vice-president received the highest audit rating from the Commission on Audit (COA) for three consecutive years: 2018, 2019, and 2020. Napaka-importante ito because transparency is one of the best solutions against corruption. Kapag transparent ang isang opisina o agency, they are open to scrutiny. Alam mo kung saan napupunta yung pondo nila. Alam mo kung saan nila ginagastos yung binabayaran mong buwis.

What Robredo did for the office of the vice-president can be replicated in all other offices, agencies, and departments. And keep in mind that Robredo authored the Full Disclosure Policy Bill. This is basically a bill that directly addresses corruption.

Also, Robredo has consistently disclosed her SALN (Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth). And she had encouraged all public officials to do the same. Again, disclosure of SALN is another way of fighting corruption.  In the words of Robredo, "as public officials, we have an obligation to be transparent not only in our work but also in our public life".

9. She has been endorsed by the country's top educational institutions (universities). Universities are bastions of learning and knowledge. These are centers of education. When choosing between multiple candidates, it's always better to go for the candidate being supported by educators. Educators know what's up. Educators know which candidate is qualified for the job. Educators know which candidate will champion educational causes and initiatives. 

10. She showed up during debates and interviews. Debates are a salient feature of any democratic election. It's one of the best ways to prove to the people that you are deserving of their vote. That you are worthy of the position. That you have a political platform to present. That you are not afraid to be questioned. 

Robredo showed up. She answered the questions thrown at her. She presented a very comprehensive political platform. 

There are other reasons why Robredo has my vote. But I think these reasons I listed are more than enough. For me, at least. If you are voting for the other candidates, I hope that you also did your research.

And one last thing, Robredo has read To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. She even referred to it as her favorite book. If you've read To Kill a Mockingbird and loved it, I'd say you have good taste. That's an automatic PLUS point. :)