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    Press Conference with Vice President Leni Robredo

    Press Conference with Vice President Leni Robredo

    Acacia Hotel Bacolod, Burgos St. Extension, Reclamation Area, Bacolod City, Negros Occidental

     

    MODERATOR: [recording starts] In this press conference, without further ado, let me just again reiterate the house rules. Please put your masks on, let's observe the protocols. And then one question per media outlet. Identify your name first, then your media organization. Let's make our questions short and straight to the point.

    But before we open the floor for questions from our media friends, let me give the microphone to our VP, whose track record and character speaks for who she is and what she stands for. Let's raise our hands and give her a warm round of applause, VP Leni Robredo!

    VP LENI: Maayong hapon. It is good to be back in Bacolod. Since I assumed office as VP, I have been here so many times already. Not just in Bacolod, but many other parts of Negros Occidental, as far as Hinoba-an, where we had implemented a lot of programs. Marami po kaming mga lugar where may mga proyektong binaba for farmers and fisherfolk, for COVID response, Community Learning Hubs, building of classrooms, including downloading funds sa mga ospital for medical assistance. But I have not been back since the pandemic. This is the first time I'm visiting Negros Occidental again since the pandemic broke out last year. So it's a very happy occasion that I am back, especially because the welcome that we received this morning, until this afternoon, has really been heartwarming. We did not expect this kind of response, and it has been a very happy few hours now that I'm here in Bacolod. So maraming salamat sa inyong lahat.

    MODERATOR: Madaming salamat VP Leni Robredo. And of course you can also ask questions to Gov. Lito later, 'no? So we would now open the floor for questions from the media. Yes, we have the microphone—ah sige I'll give you my mic. Please state your name and your outlet.

    REPORTER 1: Good afternoon, Madam President for the future. Alam naman natin na ikaw lang siguro maging future president ng Pilipinas. Ma’am, I am Romel of DYKB RPN Bacolod. Ma’am, we are the longest insurgency in Asia. Until now, may mga  tao or may mga kaibigan tayo na nandiyan pa rin sa kabundukan, at naggawa ng kanilang mga alituntunin para sa kanilang freedom, especially our NPA minsan, Ma’am, ano? Ma’am, paano po natin i-address ito? Iyong sa Vietnam natapos na, dito lang sa Pilipinas mayroon pa ring insurgency at lalo na po itong mga CPP-NPA. Kung kayo po ang maging pangulo ng Pilipinas, anong gagawin natin dito, Ma’am?

    VP LENI: Ako, I think I have said this many times over already—hindi puwedeng masugpo ang insurgency ng dinadaan sa dahas. Masusugpo lamang ang insurgency kapag binalikan natin iyong root of the problem. And ano ba iyong root of the problem? Parating poverty at saka empowerment. So iyong sa akin, we have seen na kapag maayos iyong gobyerno, kapag maayos iyong economic environment for everyone, lumiliit-lumalaki iyong number of insurgents natin. Kapag maraming upheavals, mas maraming insurgents. Kapag mas grabe iyong pagdurusa, mas marami rin iyong insurgents. So iyong sa akin, dapat mas holistic iyong approach sa pagsupgo sa kaniya. Hindi puwedeng magde-deploy tayo ng napakaraming pulis o napakaraming militar para masugpo siya. Para sa akin, kailangan balikan mo bakit ba dumadami sila? Bakit ba sila naeengganyo? Bakit sila nae-engganyon gsumama sa movement? And ito talaga, ang  pinagmumulan talaga nito, kahirapan. Ang pinagmumulan, wala silang espasyo para magpahayag ng kanilang saloobin. Iyong sa akin, I have always advocated for peoples' councils in many different parts of the country. Kasi ang para sa akin, iyong peoples' councils siya iyong nagbibigay ng platform para nabibigyan ng boses iyong pinakamaliit. Siya iyong nagbibigay ng platform para kapag nabigyan ng boses iyong pinakamaliliit, iyong pag-resolve sa mga problema ng napakarami nating hinaharap sa ating bansa ay mas magiging madali kapag involved iyong tao. Iyong pagde-desisyon galing sa baba,  hindi galing sa taas.

    MODERATOR: Thank you. Next question will come from Mr. Ray Siason. There’s a microphone there on the table. Thank you.

    REPORTER 2: Good afternoon, Madam Vice President. I think ito pong binabantayan  ng lahat sa ngayon, pati iyong mga mayors namin dito sa Negros, nag-aabang kung ang November 15, mayroon pa po bang posibilidad na may subsituttion sa pagitan ninyo ni Senator Kiko?

    VP LENI: Sa amin po, siguradong wala. Sa amin siguradong wala. Noong nag-file kami desidido kaming tapusin ito. Para po sa akin, iyong batas patungkol sa substitution masyadong naaabuso. Kaya tayo may mga provisions on substitution kasi these are for particular—for very specific purposes—namatay, nagkaroon ng disability o nagkaroon ng matinding dinaanan na hindi na matutuloy iyong candidacy. Pero hindi dapat ito ginagamit para maglalagay ka ng placeholder, para pagdating hihintayin mo hanggang sa pinakahulihan na allowed pa iyong substitution, saka ka papasok. Para sa akin, mockery ito ng ating election laws. Na dapat balikan na iyong pag-review nito. Na dapat hindi na siya ina-allow na nagagamit iyong provisions on the election laws para gamitin siya to satisfy political ends. Dapat ang substitution klaro na nangyayari lang siya for very, very extraordinary circumstances.

    MODERATOR: Thank you VP Leni. Next question please. Roming? From Digicast.

    REPORTER 3: Hello, Ma’am, I am Roming from Digicast and ABS-CBN. Ma’am your reaction, it seems na the disqualification case filed against Bongbong Marcos, tinuturo na iyong opposition behind this. Your reaction to that.

    VP LENI: Ako, it doesn’t make sense. Kung gusto namin siya ipa-disqualify dapat sana noong laban pa namin ng VP. Saka kung ang purpose ng disqualification para maalis siya sa contest na ito, hindi naman kailangan. Naglaban na kaming noong 2016, nanalo naman kami na walang ganiyan. So sa akin, I cannot comment further on that kasi may pending case, eh and bawal siyang pag-usapan, pero huwag kaming ituro. Kasi hindi kami ganiyan lumaban.

    MODERATOR: Next question. Please state your name and your outlet.

    REPORTER 4: I am Aladin Salas of DYRM. Vice, what can you say about the COVID-19 response of the government right now?

    VP LENI: Ako, I have been very vocal about the response of the national government on COVID-19. In fact, I think two days ago, that was yesterday, we came out with our own COVID-19 response policy platform. Since March last year, we have been making suggestions to the national government on how to improve COVID-19 response initiatives. Sa akin kasi parating binabalik na paninira lang ito sa pamahalaan pero, lahat ng international bodies who assessed COVID-19 response initiatives of many different nations, naka-ilan na, parati tayong huli. Parati tayong nama-mark na we are the least resilient and this is something that we should not be proud of. Para sa akin, maraming nang—noong naguumpisa siguro hindi pa natin alam kung papaano mag-respond, pero we have a lot of best practices from where we can derive a lot of lessons from na gagayahin na lang natin. Halimbawa, last year, I think it was June last year, sinabi ko na na sa mga lugar na wala namang community transmission buksan na iyong mga paaralan. Huwag tayong gumawa ng policy na one-size-fits-all kasi kawawa iyong ating mga estudyante, hindi tayo pinakinggan. Ngayon, this is the second school year that our children are out of school and alam natin kung ano iyong effects nito. Halimbawa, kapag sinabi natin na kapag mataas iyong positivity rate, kailangan i-grabe mo iyong testing para bumaba iyong positivity rate. Hanggang ngayon, ganoon pa rin. Parang sobrang stubborn natin in insisting a lot of things we have been doing and expecting different results. Iyong sa akin, the lessons are very clear. The lessons are very clear. Ngayon, mababa ulit iyong cases pero hindi dapat tayo magkampante kasi kapag iyong cases natin every now and then magkakaroon tayo ng surge, sino ba iyong kawawa? So para sa akin, ang COVID-19 response ng national government is very wanting. And obligasyon natin na punahin iyong pamahalaan kasi ang nagsa-suffer naman tayo lahat, eh. That is why I always say that if given the chance, if given the chance to be president in 2022, the first thing that I will do is to control the pandemic and mitigate the effects of the pandemic kasi hindi tayo makaka-move on, eh. Hindi tayo makaka-move on kung every few months, nagsu-surge tayo.

    MODERATOR: Follow-up?

    REPORTER 4: Follow-up, puwede? Do you also have in mind to have another debt from other lending companies?

    VP LENI: Ano iyon, Sir?

    REPORTER 4: Ang debt natin…

    VP LENI: Iyong utang? Alam mo, iyong utang is not necessarily bad. Actually, noong nag-start tayong umutang kapag tiningnan natin iyong debt-to-GDP ratio natin, mayroon pa tayong space. If I remember right, nasa 40 plus iyong debt-to-GDP ratio natin. Sabi natin, puwede pang umutang. Pero iyong problema ng utang natin, hindi natin nagamit—hindi natin nagastos nang tama. Kapag—kung nanonood kayo ng Senate investigation, alam natin na umutang na tayo nang umutang, iyong korapsyon ang laki-laki pa rin. So anong use ng pag-utang natin kung iyong inutang natin mapupunta lang naman sa korapsyon? Kapag umutang tayo nang umutang na hindi naman nagre-redound to our benefit, babayaran ito ng mga anak at apo natin na wala naman tayong benefit na nakukuha. Pero kung iyong inutang natin, ang resulta ng inutang natin nahinto kaagad natin iyong transmission, iyon iyong magandang utang. So sa akin, ang pag-utang is not necessarily bad basta controlled iyong pag-utang and iyong paggamit ng inutang ay maayos.

    MODERATOR: Thank you for that, VP Leni! Next to ask the question is Carla.

    REPORTER 5: Carla Gomez of Digicast and Inquirer. Question, I know you have a national program for what you want to see the direction of the country—on the direction of the country. But do you have a specific agenda for Negros and can you say what did you discuss with…

    VP LENI: Ako, there are many different things that Negros should be assisted with. Iyong number one iyong NIR—the Negros Island Region. I think it was a very important first step when NIR was formed and established because it was an opportunity. It was a big opportunity for both Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental to finally plan as an island. To finally plan as an island region. Ang daming shine-share ng Negros Oriental at saka Negros Occidental that would benefit everyone. Halimbawa, iyong natural resources, iyong disaster management, iyong marami pang ibang mga na-a-affect kayo as a region. Pero ano ang nangyayari? Ngayon, balik tayo sa magkahiwalay na region. Iyong regional center ng Negros Occidental, iba sa Negros Oriental. Kahit pareho iyong disasters na tatama sa Negros Island, iba iyong klase ng response na mangyayari dahil magkaiba. So para sa akin, isa iyon na pinakamalaking tulong for the Negros Island na ibalik iyong Negros Island Region dahil sayang iyong 2016 until 2022. It was really a lost opportunity for everyone na naka-take off na sana kayo. Naka-take off na sana kayo as one region, as one island. Pero because it was, the Executive Order was passed dissolving the [Negros] Island Region, so balik sa dati.

    Number two, iyong sugar industry. Iyong sugar industry, malaki iyong problemang hinaharap ngayon. Malaki iyong problemang hinaharap ngayon. Maraming mga opportunities na hindi nate-take advantage of. Ano ba iyong mga issues surrounding the sugar industry? Ang dami. Ang dami. Iyong mga targets, hindi pa nari-reach. Hindi nari-reach iyong target kasi kulang iyong support from government. Hindi na-a-acchieve iyong mga targets kasi halimbawa, ang presyo ng abono ang taas, ang presyo ng kuryente ang taas. Maraming mga support services na hindi nabibigay. So, iyong para sa akin, mas systemic kasi iyong problema. It’s not just a function of leadership pero really making sure that all the moving parts na malagay siya sa iisang—halimbawa, iyong sugar roadmap, mayroon na kayong ginawa na ina-adjust ngayon. Ang kailangan na lang iyong support from government. Halimbawa, iyong kuryente. Iyong kuryente, ang daming puwedeng ayusin sa Negros. Ano ba iyong advantage ng Negros Occidental? Negros Occidental is the only province na talagang mayroon nang—ano ito, vision for a roadmap going to renewables. Kapag tiningnan natin ngayon, actually may oversupply na. Pero despite the fact na may oversupply, hindi pa rin naha-harness. Hindi naha-harness iyong opportunities na nandito kasi marami pang kailangang ayusin. Halimbawa, iyong pag-asikaso ng grid, iyong pag-asikaso ng mga presyo, ang pag-asikaso ng national policy on it. So sa akin, I think those three are the top issues that the national government can help Negros with.

    MODERATOR: Salamat po! The gentleman in blue? Ay, may follow-up pa si Carla.

    REPORTER 5: I just have another question. Can you discuss what you and Bishop talked about?

    VP LENI: Actually, it was a very candid conversation of where we are now. I’m not really at liberty in discussing the details of what we talked about but siguro, the most comforting thing about our conversation was that, iyong Diocese dito is ready to help—ready to help with not my candidacy, pero ready to help in addressing that most—the prevailing issues concerning the elections and that includes propaganda, that includes disinformation that might affect how people will decide. So, iyon naman iyong commitment ni Bishop na—iyong commitment niya that the Diocese will be very active in helping people discern. Wala naman siyang commitment to help any candidate and I don’t think iyong mga religious should campaign for any candidate. Pero just making sure na iyong choices ng mga tao ay naka-base sa tamang information. And gaya ng sabi ko kanina, that is very comforting.

    MODERATOR: The gentleman in blue and then after him, Mitch.

    REPORTER 6: Good afternoon! Gerard Dela Peña from TV5. Ma’am, may we ask your thoughts about iyong proposal po na gawing mandatory po iyong vaccination since we’re talking about COVID-19 response.

    VP LENI: Sa akin kasi kapag sinabi mong mandatory, gusto ba noon sabihin mayr mga penalties iyong mga ayaw magpa-vaccinate? Iyong sa akin, parati akong nandoon sa instead of penalizing, mas mabuting incentivizing. In the course of our COVID-19 response operations, we have always incentivized people rather than punish them for not being willing to do certain things. Kanina kinukuwento ko nga kina Gov. Lito na when we were doing our Swab Cab, the very idea of the Swab Cab is to do mobile testing in communities where transmission is very high. Iyong experience namin doon ang daming ayaw magpa-swab. Kahit exposed sila, kahit may symptoms sila, maraming ayaw magpa-swab. So kapag inisip mo na kaagad ang penalizing, parang feeling mo na kasalanan nilang ayaw without really understanding where they are coming from. So bakit ayaw magpa-swab? Ayaw nila magpa-swab kasi kapag nag-positive sila, wala silang trabaho for two weeks, walang kakainin iyong kanilang pamilya. And we were able to solve that. And when we were able to solve that, nag-incentivize kami. Kapag nagpa-swab ka ngayon, mayroon kang bigas. Kapag nag-positive ka, mayroon kang two weeks worth of food supply for the entire family. So ako, mas doon ako. Mas doon ako sa putting up incentives. Kasi para sa akin, mas malalim iyong pinaghuhugutan ng pagsunod ng tao rather than sumusunod sila kasi takot silang makulong o sumusunod sila kasi ayaw nilang mamasukan. Para sa akin, mas empowering dapat parati iyong solusyon.

    MODERATOR: Mitch?

    REPORTER 7: Thank you po. Good afternoon. Mitch of Negros Weekly. Ma’am, in 2016, Negros Occidental delivered good votes for you. I can recall, 600,000 to give you an edge against the opponent at the last—final counting in the COMELEC. We are now more than 2 million in the province to vote. Are you still confident that—how do you consider the Negros votes?

    VP LENI: Ako, actually, in every elections, I am never confident. In every elections, para sa akin I am not entitled to anything. I should work hard for it. Iyong sa akin, the sheer number of votes that I got from Negros was a big blessing—but I worked very, very hard for it. Ngayong eleksyon, ganoon pa rin. I am not entitled to anything that I work hard for. So sa akin, iyong pagbalik ko sa Negros is to show people that I have not reneged on my promises—the promises that I committed myself to in 2016. And ino-offer ko ulit iyong sarili ko sa tao. Iyong sa akin naman, siyempre I pray that will get more votes. Negros was, I think, if I am not mistaken, about Top 3 or Top 5 of the provinces which gave me the most number of votes. And siyempre, I am still hoping that not only will I duplicate that feat, but mas marami pang makuha. And kanina with the reception that I got from the people, I was telling sina Gov. Lito that I never experienced that in 2016. When I won in 2016, while many people supported me, it was different kind of reception. And the only reason why I’m more hopeful now is nakikita ko na iyong mga tao are so invested. Hindi lang ito iyong ordinaryong support pero it’s as if people are looking at the 2022 elections as their personal fight. And iyong sa akin, if we are able to sustain… if we are able to sustain this level of energy and passion, we will have a very good chance at it.

    MODERATOR: Thank you, Mitch. Okay, as much as VP Leni would like to accommodate all of your questions, unfortunately I have to give the last question to DYKB because she has another appointment. She will visit the Government Center from here.

    REPORTER 8: I have only two questions. One, the poor is always an instrument of the politicians of winning the elections—the poor. Even Digong said that he came from a poor family. So my question is, when they presented their platforms of government, of all the promises, they forgot when they’re already in the position. So, what is the assurance of fulfilling the promises? And second question, how do we assert the national sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea, most especially to uphold—or to pursue the arbitral ruling in the International Court?

    VP LENI: Ako, first question, pagdating ng eleksyon lahat magsasabing, “mahal ko iyong mahihirap,” ‘di ba. Pagdating ng eleksyon magsasabing, “Mahal ko iyong mahihirap dahil galing ako sa hirap.” Pero kapag nakaupo na, wala nang inaasahan. So ano iyong assurance? Iyong assurance tingnan natin—tingnan natin kung papaano niya pinakita iyong pagmamahal niya sa mahirap in the past. Madali lang kasing sabihin na, “mahal ko iyong mahirap. Pagsisilbihan ko iyong mahihirap.” Pero when you look at history, wala namang instance sa kaniyang buhay na inasikaso talaga niya iyong mahihirap. So iyong sa akin, hindi lang para sa akin pero I think dapat pamantayan ito to all the other candidates, kapag nag-claim siya ng ganito, ano iyong pagpapakita na gagawin niya? Halimbawa, kapag ako sinabi ko na against ako sa corruption, kung ang record ko maraming mga questionable transactions, dapat hindi niyo ako paniwalaan. Pero kapag sinabi kong against ako sa corruption gaya ng record namin sa OVP, three straight years until 2020, unqualified opinion kami ng COA. We garnered the highest audit rating of COA. Kapag sinabi kong mahal ko iyong mahihirap, tingnan kung papaano ko minahal niyong mahihirap noong binigyan ako ng pagkakataon in the past. So iyong sa akin siguro, makakatulong iyong media dito to help people to be more discerning. Kasi lahat kami, lahat na kandidato magpa-promise ng anything during the campaign—iyon iyong number one.

    Number two, ito lagi ko na rin itong inuulit. Iyong pagkapanalo natin sa arbitral tribunal was a very, very big win. Pero hindi natin na-harness—hindi natin na-leverage iyong pagkapanalo natin na iyon. Kasi iyong pag-protect ng sovereignty natin, marami ring different facets iyon and one of those is male-leverage natin iyong win natin na iyon, makukuha natin iyong cooperation ng ibang bansa na tulungan tayo to protect our sovereignty. Pero kapag tayo pinaglalaban natin iyong sarili natin, pero kapag hindi natin pinaglalaban iyong sarili natin, how do we expect other countries to fight for us. Iyon iyong una. Pangalawa, we should practice what we preach. Kapag sinabi natin na hindi namin ipapayag na agawin ng iba iyong sovereign rights natin, ipakita natin sa pang-araw-araw. Hindi iyong kinukuwestiyon natin pero nakiki-deal naman tayo and sinusugal pa natin iyong resources natin sa West Philippine Sea. So iyong sa akin, papaniwalaan lang naman tayo kapag nakikita sa ginagawa natin.

    MODERATOR: Thank you! So that was our last question. Alam namin, VP Leni, dama mo ang pagmamahal—in Hiligaynon, ang pagpalangga—sa mga taga-Negros at taga-Bacolod.

    VP LENI: Oo naman. Maraming salamat. It has really been heartwarming so maraming salamat sa inyo!

     

    - 30 -

    Posted in Transcripts on Nov 05, 2021