Vice President Leni Robredo signs the thoroughly smeared Integrity Pledge board.
MANILA, Philippines — With her office providing innovative and practical programs to counter the COVID-19 pandemic, Vice President Leni Robredo earned praise from various sectors and even from some administration allies for being proactive despite her limited role in the government.
But Robredo said that the programs she initiated — from drive-thru vaccinations with Vaccine Express, telemedicine channels at Bayanihan E-Konsulta, mobile testing facility Swab Cab, to the online public market shopping method Community Mart — could be enhanced and increased if she is elected president.
During her announcement of her presidential bid on Thursday, Robredo said that her programs could help more people if the government — her government — would not impede access to communities and would focus on merely helping Filipinos.
“Sa kabila ng panggigipit, sa maliit na tanggapan pa lang natin dito sa Office of the Vice President, napakarami na nating nagawa para makatulong: Ang mga pabahay, ang ayuda at medical at livelihood assistance, ang lingap sa mga nasalanta, ang pailaw at classrooms at dorms; ang Vaccine Express, Swab Cab, Bayanihan e-Konsulta, Bayanihan e-Skuwela, TrabaHOPE, Community Marts, free shuttle services, at mga libreng PPE at napakarami pang ibang nagawa,” Robredo said.
“Kung naipatupad natin ang lahat ng ito; kung nakarating ang tulong natin sa Agutaya, hanggang San Remigio, hanggang sa ground zero ng Marawi kahit ginigipit tayo, imagine kung ano pa ang kaya nating gawin, kung saan pa ang kaya nating marating, kung maitututok ang buong enerhiya ng gobyerno sa tangi nitong dapat iniintindi: Ang kapakanan ng taumbayan,” she added.
Before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Robredo’s office focused on providing livelihood opportunities for people living in impoverished situations by tapping private sector partners to help them as they lack funding.
Despite the small and often reduced funds, the Office of the Vice President (OVP) was praised for providing people a chance to improve their lives.
However, OVP grabbed headlines for its pandemic response, offering free shuttles for frontliners and health workers when a stringent lockdown placed over Luzon stopped public transportation. Then, Robredo’s office also tapped local sewers and manufacturers to produce personal protective equipment, using funds donated by various people.
Aside from that, OVP also provided hot meals for health workers on the frontline of the fight against the pandemic, while responding to the needs of people hit by successive typhoons last October to November 2020.
In 2021, amid the threat of the more infectious Alpha and Delta variants, OVP changed its strategy by setting up a telemedicine station where people suspected of being infected can contact doctors through the Messenger app, so that they can be subjected to triage.
In doing so, OVP minimized consultations which eased hospital capacity while helping patients by connecting them to concerned government agencies.
During the Senate’s recent hearing on the budget of the OVP, senators, even those in the majority bloc, said that they want to increase the allocations to Robredo’s office, given all of her activities that benefit a lot of people.
But even with the support and praises, Robredo acknowledged that the 2022 elections would be a difficult battle for her.
“Alam kong marami sa inyo ang ilang buwan nang kumikilos nang kusa tungo sa layuning ito. Ramdam na ramdam ko ang tiwalang kaloob niyo sa akin. Sinasabi ko ngayon: Buong-buo rin ang tiwala ko sa inyo. Kaya tinatawag ko kayo: Gisingin ang natutulog pang lakas,” she explained.
“Tumindig kayo; tinitiyak ko, mayroon ding titindig sa tabi ninyo. Kumausap ng labas sa nakasanayan; palawakin pa ang hanay,” she added.
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