‘Posisyon o paninindigan?’: Robredo’s most memorable quotes in 2017

Mara Cepeda

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‘Posisyon o paninindigan?’: Robredo’s most memorable quotes in 2017
Vice President Leni Robredo has so far refused to become opposition leader, but this past year she has made strong statements against policies of the Duterte administration

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo began the year as the first official to resign from President Rodrigo Duterte’s Cabinet. 

Her resignation signaled the end of invitations to Malacañang events, a no-brainer for Robredo, who dedicated most of her 2017 expanding the reach of her flagship anti-poverty program Angat Buhay instead. She also started seeking stories of hope through the “Istorya ng Pag-asa” project.

She and her lawyers were also focused on her defense in the ongoing electoral protest filed by defeated vice presidential bet Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

In the greater parts of this year, the public saw a Vice President who travelled to far-flung provinces to help the poor, while criticizing the more abusive policies of the Duterte administration. 

Robredo had scathing words against the bloody drug war, human rights abuses, and the attempts to silence the fiercest critics of Duterte. 

She was swarmed by the President’s supporters, who spread malicious rumors about her and her family and even attempted to impeach her at the House of Representatives. (READ: Still no endorsers for Robredo impeachment complaint)

Still, Robredo stopped short of completely disengaging from the administration. She has so far refused to take on the role of opposition leader and even distanced herself from the opposition coalition Tindig Pilipinas. (READ: Why Leni Robredo can’t be full-on opposition)

Look back at the Vice President’s journey this year through her most memorable quotes on the key issues of 2017.


On breaking away from the Cabinet

Hindi ko na rin ipagsisiksikan ang sarili ko. Ako naman, ang desire na tumulong ay parating nariyan, pero mahirap naman na hindi ka pinagkakatiwalan.

(I am not pushing myself in. For me, the desire to help is always there, but it is hard when you are not trusted.)

 – Ambush interview in Camarines Sur, January 3 


On not being invited to Malacañang events

FOCUSED ON WORK. Robredo delivers a speech during a youth forum in January. Photo by OVP

“Para sa akin, hindi naman big deal kung iimbitahan ako o hindi. Nakakawalang gana na lang doon iyong manner kung paano ginagawa ang mga bagay…. Para sabihing binabawi ang imbitasyon dahil wala nang upuan, parang nakakatawa.”

(For me, it isn’t a big deal if I’m invited or not. What is disheartening is how it was done. To say that the invitation was withdrawn because there weren’t enough seats, that’s laughable.)

– Statement after she was disinvited to Duterte’s New Year vin d’honneur, January 11


On extrajudicial killings and the war on drugs

ANTI-DRUG WAR. Robredo criticizes the war on drugs in a video played on the sidelines of a UN meeting. Screenshot from the OVP

“Some of those who have told us that when there’s crime, they normally go to the police, now they don’t know where to turn. Our people feel both hopeless and helpless: a state of mind that we must all take seriously.”

Video message on the sidelines of a United Nations meeting in Vienna, Austria, March 16


Opposition to the threat to abolish the Commission on Human Rights

HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYER. Robredo supports the endeavors of the Commission on Human Rights. Photo by OVP

“Kung ia-abolish iyong CHR, parang lalo nating hindi binibigyan ng proteksyon iyong mga dati nang naghihirap sa ating lipunan.” 

(If the CHR is abolished, then we’re not protecting the poor people in our society.)

Ambush interview in Camarines Sur, July 28


Opposition to Duterte’s proposal to bring back the Philippine Constabulary

REVIEW WAR ON DRUGS. Robredo says the government should review its war on drugs. Photo by OVP

“Let us not hurry in making decisions on who would implement [the anti-drugs campaign] now that the PNP is stripped of the obligation. Why was the PC abolished? It’s because many of them had been very abusive.”

Television interview, February 2


On the House of Representatives attempting to reimpose the death penalty

ANTI-DEATH PENALTY. Robredo attends a House hearing on local governance in February as lawmakers discussed reimposing the death penalty. Photo by Mara Cepeda/Rappler

“Ito iyong chance nila para ipakita kung ano’ng mas mahalaga, ano ‘yung mas mahalaga sa kanila: to hold on to their positions o panindigan ang kanilang paniniwala?”  

(This is their chance to show what is more important to them. What is more important to them: to hold on to their positions or to stand by what they believe in?) 

Press conference, February 9


Opposition to a revolutionary government 

THE VEEP. Robredo is given full military honors during the Philippine Air Force 70th Founding Anniversary on July 4. Photo by OVP

“Iyong pagdeklara ng revolutionary government, sinasabi na wala na tayong paniniwala sa gobyernong ito, wala na tayong paniniwala sa Konstitusyon na iyon, iyong platform kung saan nakatayo iyong present na pamahalaan.” 

(Declaring a revolutionary government means you no longer have faith in this government, that you don’t believe in the Constitution, the platform on which this present government is standing.) 

Chance interview, November 30


On misogyny and bigotry in the time of Duterte

WOMEN'S RIGHTS ADVOCATE. Robredo delivers a speech on International Women's Day. Photo by OVP

“Before this administration started, I felt we were already doing good strides as far as gender and equality is concerned. We are talking about women empowerment already increasing. Our numbers are [high] as far as women in politics. And then this happened. It’s as if we are transported back [to] the time where misogyny and bigotry is accepted.”

Rappler interview, March 8


Her message to those who spread false information online

NO TO FAKE NEWS. Robredo attends the Istorya ng Pag-asa Photo Gallery launch in Novaliches, Quezon City on July 25. Photo by OVP

“Para sa akin, insulto ito sa maraming kawani ng pamahalaan na naninilbihan sa taumbayan kahit napakakaunti ng nakukuhang kapalit. Iyong sa atin, iyong paniniwala natin bilang mga Pilipino, na iyong paninilbihan para sa bayan, isang pribilehiyong hindi nabibigay sa lahat.” 

(For me, this is an insult to many government officials who are serving the people even if they are getting paid little for it. I believe that being able to serve Filipinos is a privilege not given to many.) 

Chance interview, October 5 


Distancing herself from Tindig Pilipinas

LP BUT NOT OPPOSITION. In this file photo, Robredo is joined by Senator Franklin Drilon, former president Benigno Aquino III, and Senators Francis Pangilinan and Paolo Benigno Aquino IV during a solidarity mass on the martial law declaration anniversary. File photo by Arnold Almacen

“Hindi ako kabahagi sa #TindigPilipinas…. Kasi oras na makialam iyong pulitiko sa ganiyan, parating mababahiran ng pagdududa kung ano iyong intensyon ng [grupo]. Parang nawawala sa tunay na issue iyong pag-uusapan, kasi iyong pag-uusapan na ano iyong interes ng publiko kung bakit sumali.” 

(I’m not part of #TindigPilipinas…. Because once a politician interferes, people will doubt the intention of the group. The focus will switch from the issues that must be talked about to what are the interests of the politicians who joined the group.) 

Chance interview, September 28  


Supporting Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao

MAIN BATTLE ZONE. Robredo visits the main battle area in war-stricken Marawi City on November 16. Photo by OVP

“May guidelines na inilabas, ito iyong tinitingnan natin. Gusto nating maging supportive sa administrasyon kasi sa tindi ng problema natin sa terorismo, hindi ito iyong panahon na nag-aaway-away tayo.”

(There were guidelines released and we are studying them. We want to be supportive of the administration because of the serious threat of terrorism. This is not the time that we should be fighting.) 

Chance interview, May 26

“May mga alegasyon na merong paglabag ng karapatang pantao. Tingin ko kailangan itong tingnan para di na lumala pa.”

(There were allegations of human rights abuses. I think the government should look into it so that this does not worsen.)  

Biserbisyong Leni episode, July 23 


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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.