Eye Level SalenIn his homily during the funeral mass for former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino, Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas called on the public to pay tribute to Noynoy by bringing back dignity and decency in public service, just as how the former chief executive led during his term.

Villegas said: “The best eulogy tribute we can pay to our dear President Noy is to bring back, recover, preserve, safeguard, and never again to compromise our dignity as a people and the decency of our leaders as servants, not bosses.”

Now, almost a year after that homily, the country is finally given a chance to bring honesty and integrity back to Philippine politics as we elect our new set of leaders.

As an aspiring journalist, I am well aware of the fact that it is crucial for journalists to remain impartial during election season––to steer clear from discourses that could disclose their votes and political views as it could compromise their integrity and impartiality.

However, the times have changed. With disinformation plaguing and jeopardizing this election, I am convinced that my silence and neutrality are no longer benefitting anyone but the men behind these chicaneries.

After considering all the facts, I am writing this letter––breaking that long-standing journalistic standard and publicly declaring Vice President Leni Robredo as the most qualified among the presidential candidates.

Leni Robredo first appeared on the public’s radar as the widowed lawyer of the late Jesse Robredo, a former interior secretary and Naga City’s longest-serving mayor. The death of her husband propelled her to enter the life of a public servant––it forced her to continue his legacy of good governance.

In 2013, Robredo began her career as a legislator after winning as Camarines Sur’s third district representative, ending the nearly 40-year-rule of the Villafuerte clan in the province.

In her three years in Congress, Robredo accomplished many remarkable things, authoring some notable bills such as the Anti-Discrimination Bill, People Empowerment Act, and the Tax Incentives Management and Transparency Act.

Robredo also distinguished her first term as congresswoman by co-authoring the Philippine National Railways Charter Extension law, Graphic Health Warning Law, and the Decriminalizing Premature Marriage Law.

Robredo’s committee leadership and membership also reflected her advocacies. She was vice chairman of two committees: Committee on Good Governance and Public Accountability, and Committee on Revision of Laws, and was a member of the following committees: Committee of Appropriations, Bicol Recovery and Economic Development, Climate Change, Human Rights, Land Use, Local Government, People’s Participation, Rural Development, Suffrage and Electoral Reforms, Welfare of Children, and Women and Gender Equality.

By 2015, Robredo bowed anew to the public’s clamor––to continue Jesse’s legacy of public service and to run for vice president. It was weeks of talks before Robredo agreed to run as the running mate of then Liberal Party’s standard-bearer Mar Roxas.

Robredo went against veterans in the 2016 vice-presidential race. She won against the namesake and son of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos by a slim margin.

While Robredo succeeded in her vice-presidential bid, Roxas lost to now President Rodrigo Duterte. Robredo has had an antagonistic relationship with Duterte for the past six years.

Robredo was even removed twice from Duterte’s Cabinet due to what they said were “irreconcilable differences.”

But despite the lack of resources, Robredo was still able to mount programs through partnerships with the private sector. Her office’s flagship anti-poverty program called “Angat Buhay” was able to send aid to over 600,000 families from 223 cities and municipalities.

During the pandemic, Robredo spearheaded several initiatives such as establishing community learning hubs, provision of free shuttle services, swab tests, and telehealth services to the public. She raised millions of funds for relief operations across the country.

Robredo’s vice-presidency has also remained untarnished and corruption-free. The Office of the Vice President earned the highest audit rating possible from the Commission on Audit from 2018 to 2020.

Robredo’s office has been able to maintain its ISO 9001:2015 quality certification since 2017. The quality certification indicates an office’s compliance with international standards on management.

Aside from her performance over the last decade, Robredo is also the only presidential candidate with promising and potentially transformative platforms that could help revive the Philippine’s economy.

Recently she unveiled her economic recovery plan, the “Angat Buhay Pilipino” program, where she listed necessary policies she would pursue to alleviate poverty in the country.

Robredo’s plan includes creating more jobs, offering three-month financial assistance to the unemployed, and eliminating corruption in Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth).

Robredo plans to improve the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), adding mothers and babies to the conditional cash transfer for the first 1,000 days. The vice president also vowed to address food security issues, the woes of farmers and fishermen, and the apparent crisis in the country’s educational sector.

Four research and finance institutions that specialize in macroeconomic analysis, namely Bloomberg, Pantheon Macroeconomics, Goldman Sachs, and Nomura Global Research, also reported that a Robredo presidency is more market-friendly.

The four independent business research institutions said a Robredo government could boost business confidence and attract more foreign investors than an administration at the helm of the allegedly survey-leading presidential candidate, Marcos Jr., whose legislative record as senator is lackluster and whose refusal to participate in the presidential debates should betray his lack of vision and overall intellectual mediocrity.

Beyond discussions of political colors and political ties, no one can deny that Robredo has all the accomplishments and background to prove that she is deserving and the most qualified presidential aspirant to be the next chief executive.

Do not let the fictional “Golden Age” of Marcos rule and false propaganda about its restoration via its lazy and sub-mediocre scion becoming president rob you of the chance to elect a competent leader and enable yourself and everyone to have a real chance at a better life.

Six years of foul, fascist, arrogant, dishonest, repressive, and murderous politics that the current administration has fostered have already cost this country too much. Let us elect a capable and respectable leader.

On May 9, when you are finally seated in the chair at your polling precinct, and you are about to cast your vote, think beyond the lame and theatrical stunts of the ingenuine politicians and the noise of trolls and vote for your family, friends, the country, and most especially yourself.


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