MANILA, Philippines – When Leni Robredo took her oath on Thursday, June 30, as the 14th vice president of the Philippines, she called for unity.
“Ang tanging paraan para matupad ang hangaring ito para sa ating bansa ay ang sama-samang pagkilos. Naniniwala ako na sa panahong tila may mga matitinding hidwaan na nangyayari sa mundong kinagagalawan natin, ang hamon sa atin ay magsama-sama, paigtingin ang ating pagkakaisa, at gawing lakas, hindi hadlang, ang ating pagkakaiba,” Robredo said in her inaugural speech. (READ: VP Leni Robredo: ‘The challenge is to come together’)
(The only way for all of us to realize our vision for our nation is to work together. During these times when there seem to be significant divisions and conflict in the world, the challenge is to come together, celebrate our commonalities and differences, and turn them all into strengths.)
Rappler editor-at-large Marites Vitug believes Robredo said the “right things” during her inauguration.
“She called for unity, and that is the most powerful force that we can achieve,” said Vitug.
Mindanao Commission on Women chief executive officer Irene Santiago thinks the new vice president has the ability to bridge the gap between the government and the people, too.
“When I heard her speak, I think she’s the connector that we are looking for. She’s in the position where she can recommend policy and shine a light on those things,” said Santiago, who is also a feminist hailing from Davao City.
“But, at the same time, she likes listening. she likes going to people. And that’s someone we need in the executive department,” she added.
In her speech, Robredo said she plans to visit the smallest and poorest barangays in the country within her first 100 days in office.
She also spoke of working toward uplifting the lives of people “na nasa laylayan ng lipunan (at the fringes of society),” consistent with her pro-poor campaign message.
In her capacity as vice president, Robredo said she would focus on addressing the longstanding issues of hunger, poverty, health, education, and people powerment.
Obstacles for Robredo
This is easier said than done, however, with a divide between Robredo and President Rodrigo Duterte already evident even before their separate inauguration ceremonies.
Duterte said he is not keen on giving Robredo a Cabinet post because he does not want to hurt the feelings of his friend Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr, whom Robredo beat by a hairline in the May polls. (READ: With or without Cabinet post, I’ll fulfill duty as VP – Robredo)
Marcos filed an electoral protest against Robredo before the Supreme Court sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal a day before the Vice President’s oath taking.
Vitug said these will make it difficult for Robredo to accomplish her plans for the country.
“In doing these projects, she will need budget, she will need people. I think she will do more advocacy and coordinating work,” said Vitug.
She said that while Robredo may have the money to travel all over the country to visit the poor, she would need to talk to the different local government units for her to be able to implement her plans.
Vitug also said that Robredo now carries the burden of rebuilding the Liberal Party (LP), being the party member holding the highest elected position in the country.
“As we’re seeing in Congress, almost 60 of the 112 LP members are jumping ship to PDP-Laban (Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan). It’s normal, but it’s not a good normal practice. But she herself said that those staying in behind are those concerned about the values of the Liberal Party,” said Vitug.
PDP-Laban is Duterte’s party.
Still, Santiago said this presents a chance for the rest of the country.
“The opportunity for us here is to have national conversations. What is the role of political parties? What are we going to do with the oligarchy in the context of both the President and the Vice President?” she said. – Rappler.com