MANILA, Philippines—Supporters of the Roxas-Robredo tandem waved their slippers in the air as they gathered at the Quezon City Circle for vice presidential aspirant Leni Robredo’s send-off.
There, Robredo reiterated her promises to the Filipino people. But according to Robredo, the event was not for her but for her advocates who live on the fringes of society.
“Kung mapapansin niyo po wala pong pulitiko dito...ngayong gabi po, hindi po ito araw ko. Ngayong gabi, araw niyo po ito,” said Robredo to around 9.000 supporters who showed up at the send-off.
(If you noticed, there are no politicians here. Tonight, it is not my night. It is your night.)
It was not only Leni who took center stage. Representatives from marginalized sectors were also given the opportunity to voice the kind of change they hoped for.
Who are the people who have been living in the so-called “laylayan ng lipunan” (fringes of society) and what do they expect from the woman they believe can lift them from the rubble of their current realities?
The Sumilao farmers traveled to Manila to show gratitude for the time when Robredo, still a volunteer lawyer in 2007, defended them when they were fighting for their land.
They also came to Manila to ask Robredo to provide proper education, to protect their rights to their ancestral lands, to ensure equality for women in the provinces, and to pass the Coconut Levy Trust Fund Bill, the Food Security Act, and the Alternative Minerals Management Bill.
On behalf of the fisherfolk who, according to Ka Uper Aleroza, are among the poorest of the poor, Aleroza told Robredo that programs and policies for the benefit of fishermen should be created.
Jenny David spoke for the millions of people living below the poverty line in Manila. She asked for housing as well as more employment opportunities for people like her.
“Maayos, simple, payapa, at disenteng pamumuhay” (Fair, simple, peaceful, and decent life) was what she aspired for.
Persons with disabilities
Marciano Laurel, a PWD, attended the send-off to ask for accessibility and “equal opportunity” especially in terms of employment and education.
“Mahina ang aking katawan. Ang ilan samin ay hindi kaya ng aming kaisipan. Ang ilang samin ay may saklay at may tungkod pero kasama ni Leni, gusto namin tumayo. Gusto namin maglakad sa tuwid na daan,” said Laurel.
(My body is weak. Some of us are mentally ill. Some of us have slings and canes but we want to stand with Leni. We want to walk on the straight path)
Senior citizens asked for universal social pensions. They also appealed to the youth, saying, “tatanda din kayo.”
On behalf of the youth, Jean Daguman asked for “makabuluhang pagkakaloob ng mga kabataan sa lahat ng programa ng pamahalaan.” (Meaningful inclusiveness of the youth in all the government’s programs).
Likewise, AJ Montessa, outgoing vice chairperson of the University of the Philippines, Diliman hopes for a more consultative process, especially in matters related to the budget of the educational sector.
“On the budget [allocation] process, as students, we are the greatest stakeholders, so mas dapat kami ang pakinggan…dapat consultative siya, dapat participatory, and dapat may transparency,” he said.
(On the budget [allocation] process, as students, we are the greatest stakeholders, so we should be listened to. [Budget allocation] should be consultative, participatory, and transparent.)
Female supporters of Robredo expect her protect women’s rights, provide equal opportunities, and help survivors of various forms of violence.
“Tayong lahat ay kailngang kumilos pero napakahalaga na meron tayong pinuno na kapit-bisig sa ganitong laban,” said Karen Tañada.
(All of us should do something but it is important to have a leader who is on our side in this fight.)
The granting of land titles was what the indigenous people from Tanay and Quezon asked for.
LGBTs also requested for equal opportunities from the vice presidential candidate. Heart Diño, a transgender, demanded, “Wakasan ang diskriminasyon, ipaglaban ang pantay na karapatan ng lahat, masasabatas ang same-sex unions, magkaron ng boses…magkaroon ng isang lipunan na merong pagpapahalaga sa kultura ng pagrespeto, pagtanggap at pagmamahal.”
(End discrimination, fight for equal rights, legalize sam-sex unions, have a voice, and have a society that values the culture of respect, acceptance, and love)
The labor sector pinned their hopes on Robredo to end contractualization – a hiring phenomenon where employees are hired and kept for less than 6 months by employers who do not want to want to regularize and comply with the labor code.
Representing the public servants, Joy Delmonte hopes for a government that has a heart for its people. “Malinis, mahusay, matino” was what she believed Robredo is and will continue to be if elected into office.
To these myriad of expectations, Robredo responded with the promise to provide them with a government that listens.
"Kapag ako pinalad, ako ang magiging boses ninyo sa pamahalaan,” said Robredo.
(If I get lucky, I will serve as your voice in the government). –Rappler.com