Hong Kong

ABS-CBN NEWS: Hi, Ma’am, good afternoon. Ma’am, we just want to get your comments about the statements of Mayor Inday Sara: first, with regards to the statements that you are a “fake VP” and that your honesty is questionable; and the second, the latest is iyong “fake courage,” because dumadaan pa daw kayo sa “Robredo camp” to defend yourself.

VP LENI: Iyong sa akin kasi, pagpasensyahan niyo na, pero ayaw kong pumasok sa isang usapan na, una, dala ng init ng ulo, pangalawa, may insultuhan, pangatlo, parang masama iyong pananalita. Kasi wala naman tayong mapapala diyan. Iyong sa akin lang, kung may mga isyu, sagutin. Pero hindi nakakatulong na nagbabatuhan ng insulto. Iyong sa akin naman, over the years, iyong paniniwala ko, kung ano iyong totoo, parating lalabas in the end. Kung ano iyong tama, iyon din iyong lalabas. So sa akin, ayaw kong parang nagre-react ako dahil gusto kong depensahan iyong sarili ko, pero nalilihis sa dapat pag-usapan iyong patutunguhan. 

Iyong sa akin, ngayon campaign season, napakahalaga para sa amin ng senatorial elections, kaya nga pinagpapaguran. Ayaw sana namin na malihis sa tamang mga issues na dapat pagdebatehan, kasi aagawin pa namin iyong atensyon galing sa mga kandidato. Hindi naman kami kandidato. 

ABS-CBN NEWS DIGITAL: Ma’am, follow-up: Itong pag-agaw ng attention, what do you make out of it? Some of your candidates told us that it might be his “coming-out”—her “coming-out party” for the 2022 presidential elections.

VP LENI: Ako kasi, iyong 2022, sobrang layo pa. Kung babalikan natin iyong kasaysayan natin in the recent past, alam natin na in a year, ang daming puwedeng mangyari. Ito, three years away pa—may isa pang eleksyon na pagdadaanan bago ng 2022. Kaya para sa akin, hindi pa ito panahon. Ang daming kailangang pagtuunan ng pansin. Kung malapit na iyong election season, saka na lang pag-usapan iyong 2022. Hindi pa nga natin alam kung sino iyong mga kakandidato, at alam natin na ang dami pang bagay na puwedeng makaapekto ng desisyon kung sino iyong mga magkakandidato at hindi magkakandidato.

BBC CHINESE: Hello, we’re from BBC. There are a lot of Chinese migrant workers now in the Philippines. Do you think it really affects Filipino workers?

VP LENI: It’s a cause for worry. Everyone has a chance to work in the Philippines. Our own laws state that if there are jobs that no Filipino can qualify to, then we can take in foreign workers. But the cause for concern is if having foreign workers take away jobs from Filipinos. We have a high unemployment rate, and it doesn’t seem right that jobs meant for Filipinos will be, you know, will be given to non-Filipinos. Another question also is how legitimate is the stay in the Philippines of some foreign workers, because I think from last year, we saw an influx of foreign workers, and we are not really sure if all of them are, you know, are legally allowed to work in the Philippines.

BBC CHINESE: Ma’am, follow-up question: How about China debt? Is that an issue now in the Philippines?

VP LENI: You know, the Philippines incurs debts not just from China, but from other foreign countries as well. I think what is important is government is transparent as far as the terms of the debt are. Of course there is always cause for worry because of what happened in other countries. We do not want to, you know, to follow suit. But our demand is just for transparency, so that we can comment accordingly. You know, it is very difficult to comment on some things if we do not know exactly what the terms of the agreements are.

BBC CHINESE: But does the China debt worry you, from your perspective?

VP LENI: I think it’s too early to say. It’s too early to say because we are not fully aware yet what the terms of the loan agreements are. If the basis would be the experiences of some other countries like Sri Lanka, then we should be wary. But as far as the Philippines is concerned, I think it would be jumping several steps ahead if we say that the terms are onerous or are not favorable to us. I think the first step really is for government to inform the public what the terms of the loan agreements are.

UNTV HONG KONG: Ma’am, I’m from UNTV Hong Kong, Ferdie ang pangalan ko po. Ma’am, what brings you to Hong Kong? And second question would be: ano po iyong gagawin niyong tactics or techniques or strategies para umangat iyong survey ng Otso Diretso sa Hong Kong? Kasi in the last elections, you were number one for the vice president. So ano po iyong gagawin niyo?

VP LENI: Iyong sa akin— Tagalog ba? Tagalog… Iyong sa akin, iyong first question, kasi mayroong programa iyong Office of the Vice President, iyong tawag Istorya ng Pag-asa. And iyong Istorya ng Pag-asa, ang pinaka-konsepto niya, naghahanap kami ng mga inspiring stories of Filipinos—ito, ordinary Filipinos na dumaan sa matitinding pagsubok pero naging matagumpay in the end. Sinimulan namin ito November of 2016. Sa buong Pilipinas, umikot na kami, but we make it a point na bumisita sa mga lugar na maraming Pilipino outside. Halimbawa, nakapunta na kami sa London, naghanap kami ng stories doon. Nag-feature kami ng mga successful Filipinos sa Germany, sa US, sa Canada. Tapos since last year, pinaplano na namin iyong Hong Kong. In fact, pumunta na ako dito July of 2018. Nagkaroon na ng initial interviews. Nag-video interviews kami of several Filipinos. Tapos pinaplano na namin nang pinaplano kung kailan maglo-launch. Ayon, mga late last year, napag-decide-an namin na pumunta either February o March of this year. Tapos nagawa na namin kanina. Pero noong nakita namin iyong klase ng mga kuwento na nakalap kanina, parang ang feeling namin, kailangan naming bumalik. Kasi sobrang dami, sobrang daming mga, parang, mga kuwento ng mga Pilipino na parang pampelikula—pampelikula iyong hirap na pinagdaanan, pero modelo talaga sila ng resilience, ng—alam mo iyon? Para sa akin, kailangan iyong kuwento nila iyong ikinukuwento sa iba, para iyong nagdadaan sa ganoong pagsubok din, nabibigyan ng pag-asa saka ng inspirasyon, na “kung ang mga ito nga, pinagdaanan din iyan pero naging maayos, ano pa kaya kami?” So iyong sa amin kanina, may napili kaming 14. Nag-feature kami ng 14 na mga Filipinos na tingin namin karapat-dapat iyong stories nila isabi again and again, ikuwento again and again. Pero gusto naming bumalik. Gusto naming bumalik—nagpapatulong kami sa kanila, nagpapatulong kami sa kanila sa paghanap. Kasi tingin ko sobrang dami pa. 

Ano talaga, iyong sa akin, parang ito iyong mga buhay na bayani. Iyong kabayanihan talaga—iyong iniiwan iyong pamilya, tapos hindi nakukuntento na hanggang dito na lang sila, pero naghahanap pa ng, parang, better ways to improve themselves. 

Tapos iyong pangalawang tanong, medyo mahirap. Kami naman, realistic—realistic kami pero optimistic. Realistic in the sense na alam namin na iyong mga kandidato namin, mga bago sa politika karamihan. Of the eight, dalawa iyong kilalang kilala dahil nakapagsilbi na on a national level. May dalawang—si Congressman Erin, dating congressman; si Congressman Alejano, incumbent congressman. Pero all the rest, first time—first-time politicians. So talagang iyong reality, mahirap siyang ipakilala. 

Pangalawa, iyong lack of resources saka machinery, talagang naghi-hinder siya para makabuwelo kami nang— Kasi alam natin kung gaano kahalaga iyong pagpapakilala by media, talagang mahirap siya. Pero iyong sa akin kasi, hindi ako nawawalan ng pag-asa, in the sense na iyong sarili kong kuwento, ganiyan din, eh: nag-umpisa ako, kulelat ako sa surveys, pang-anim ako sa anim na kandidato. Tapos unti-unti, pinagsikapan na tumaas. Iyong sa akin naman, ako, very active ako in the campaign. May sarili akong lakad. Bihira kaming magkakasama. This is actually one of the few times na nagkakasama kami, kasi iyong sa akin lang, to cover more ground, nagsasarili din ako. Pero sa akin kasi, worth the fight, eh. Ang laki ng paniniwala ko sa mga kandidato namin. Ipinaglaban namin iyong pagpili sa kanila. So sa akin, whatever it takes na tama, basta tamang paraan, gagawin namin, and bahalang maghusga iyong tao. 

UNTV HONG KONG: Follow-up po: Isn’t it too late to campaign, especially in Hong Kong, which has the second highest number of Filipino workers? Isn’t it late for Otso Diretso to campaign here?

VP LENI: Siguro it would have been better if we did it earlier, pero considering the circumstances, nabuo namin iyong ticket, filing na, eh. It is not as if itong mga taong ito matagal nang nagpaplanong kumandidato. In fact, siguro except for Senator Bam, kasi incumbent siya, talagang it took a while to convince them to run. So iyong sa akin, talagang kalaban namin iyong oras. Kalaban namin iyong oras. Sana kung mas maaga naming nabuo iyong ticket, mas maaga sanang nakagawa ng mga paraan para ipakilala sila. Pero iyong lesson naman sa buhay, ‘di ba, it is never too late to do anything. Basta iyong sa akin lang, gawin lang lahat, tapos bahala na iyong taumbayan. Basta iyong sa amin lang, iyong pinaka-challenge, mapaabot iyong mensahe—mapaabot kung sino iyong mga taong ito—kasi ako, I have great faith naman in the Filipino, na kapag napakilala mo lang, parating pipiliin niya din iyong palagay niyang makakabuti sa kaniya.

UNTV HONG KONG: After Hong Kong, are there any plans to go to another country or abroad?

VP LENI: Wala na. Wala nang plano kasi masyadong expensive. Iyong Hong Kong iyong realistic kasi malapit, not as expensive as bumiyahe sa ibang bansa. Saka there are more than 200,000 Filipinos here. Alam naman namin na iyong circumstances hindi favorable sa amin, pero ano naman, kung titingnan kasi iyong mga kandidato namin, mga models of resilience din ito. Kahit mga bagong politiko iyong iba, nanggaling sa mga pamilya o organisasyon na sanay sa laban na mahihirap. Tingin ko ito nga iyong nakakahasa sa pagkatao, eh—iyong sa tindi ng hirap na pinagdadaanan, mas matindi din iyong serbisyong willing ibigay.

BBC CHINESE: Just a follow-up question: What can you say about OFWs participating in politics, especially in Hong Kong? 

VP LENI: What is that?

BBC CHINESE: How do you see them participating in politics? 

VP LENI: The difficult thing, not just in Hong Kong, but of overseas Filipino workers abroad, is they are really dependent on what they see, what they read, now on social media. So a lot of, you know, political beliefs are shaped by what is available. So that is also a challenge for us: how to penetrate an already saturated, you know, medium, and be able to, parang, send the message across.

We are aware that it is a challenge, especially among Filipinos here in Hong Kong, because there are some politicians who have the infrastructure on social media to be able to send their own messages across. So it’s quite difficult to navigate. But the thing is, it’s really worth the effort to try to, you know, have your space as far as sending the message across. I have great faith in our candidates. I think they are very, very capable. Their integrity is beyond question. So I would think that we have to exert extra effort in making sure that the Filipinos here in Hong Kong would have the chance to, you know, would have the chance to know them.

GMA NEWS: Ma’am, sorry, balikan ko lang po si Mayor Sara. May latest statement po siya ngayon. Stop daw po muna siya doon sa pagbabatikos kasi kinausap po siya ng nanay niya. What can you say about that?

VP LENI: Mothers know best? [laughs] Iyong sa akin kasi, iyong kaya ko lang kontrolin, sarili ko. Iyong kaya ko lang kontrolin, sarili ko. Basta ako, iyong policy ko, kapag hindi maganda iyong usapan—iyong gusto kong sabihin, may halong pag-iinsulto, may halong masamang mga sinasabi—out ako diyan. Iyong sa akin, pupuna ako kapag may kailangang punahin, pero in a manner na walang ganiyanan. Walang insultuhan, diretso sa puna. Iyong sa akin kasi, iyon nga… Iyong sa akin, klaro naman kasi sa akin—klaro sa akin iyong… una, bakit ko sinasabi iyong mga bagay.

Kapag paniniwala mo, kailangan mong sabihin, kahit alam mong, parang, may repercussions ito. Pero parati kong inaalala na parating in the end, iyong tama naman saka iyong totoo iyong lalabas. 

BBC CHINESE: Are you aware of the issue in Taiwan, of Kaoshiung Mayor Han?

VP LENI: I’m sorry. I have read about it, but I—

BBC CHINESE: The “Maria” issue?

VP LENI: I have read news items about that, but I don’t think I’m in a position to make comments.

BBC CHINESE: But do you consider it as discrimination?

VP LENI: I’d rather not… I’d rather not [comment], because I don’t have the complete details.  

BBC CHINESE: Do you have any words to OFWs here, because they’re participating, they’re volunteering, in politics?

VP LENI: Maybe because the elections is quite near already, this is not just for the overseas Filipino workers in Hong Kong, but all Filipinos all over the world—just to remind them how important elections are, and that power really resides, power is in the hands of each and every Filipino. So having said that, you know, elections is already an opportunity to, you know, to give your voice, to make your choice, because it will greatly affect the future. So again, encourage everyone to participate. Encourage everyone to go out and vote, and exert effort in knowing your candidates, so that they would be able to choose well.

REPORTERS: Thank you!

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