VP Leni Robredo: 'The challenge is to come together'

NEW VP. Vice President Leni Robredo takes her oath beside 3 daughters (from left) Jillian, Aika, Tricia. Screen shot from Rappler

NEW VP. Vice President Leni Robredo takes her oath beside 3 daughters (from left) Jillian, Aika, Tricia.

Screen shot from Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Holding back tears, Vice President Leni Robredo vowed on Thursday, June 30, to open her office to all sectors and political parties as she appealed for unity, stressing that this is “most important for the nation.”

In a short and simple ceremony at the Quezon City Executive House, Robredo took her oath as the 14th vice president of the  Philippines beside her 3 daughters. Robredo’s husband, the late Naga City mayor and former interior secretary Jesse Robredo, died in a plane crash in 2012. And it is apparent she remembered him the moment she began her speech.

“This is a dream come true for someone like me who held consultation meetings on train tracks, sleep on boats, and ride single-motor version of tricycles called habal-habal to reach those we need to serve,” the former Camarines Sur representative said. A once-reluctant candidate, Robredo’s come-from-behind victory came about due to the thousands of volunteers who contributed resources and assistance to her campaign. (READ: Full text of Robredo's speech)

Her oath-taking was administered by two barangay (village) captains – one from Camarines Sur and another from Quezon City.

“When we started, very few believed that we had a sliver of chance to win,” Robredo said. “But because of the contributions of each single individual – like Nanay Alberta who pawned her ring to help with the campaign, like the Sumilao farmers who walked again to Metro Manila, like the dad-and-son tandem we randomly witnessed fixing our destroyed posters –like each one of you who sacrificed so much to get us where we are now and believed when nobody believed.”

Robredo won over closest rival Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr by a hairline. On the eve of her inauguration, Marcos filed an electoral protest against her before the Supreme Court (sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal).

Robredo’s inauguration departed from tradition. For decades, the nation witnessed the joint inauguration of president-elect and vice president-elect. But President-elect Rodrigo Duterte chose to hold his own inauguration in Malacañang, and Marcos himself is one of his guests.

Duterte also has not given Robredo a Cabinet position. Previous vice presidents had jobs in the Cabinet, such as former Vice President Jejomar Binay, who was in charge of mass housing.

Robredo knows that they need to work on their relationship as the country’s top two leaders, having come from 2 opposing parties.

Thus she made unity the theme of her inaugural speech.

“The only way for all of us to realize our vision for our nation is to work together,” Robredo said. “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.”

Robredo spoke of only one kind of loyalty - that which lies "on those we are sworn to serve." She said: "We must do right by the people, not only by our own people. Our loyalties must lie on those we are sworn to serve, even at the cost of personal interest. This has always been the manner by which we have served; and it will remain that way for the rest of our lifetime."

The Vice President also said she intended to make her office the bridge between government and the private sector so they could work together in a "partnership for change."

She vowed that hers would be a “listening office,” open to all sectors and political parties, especially those in society’s fringes. - Rappler.com