Robredo to gov’t: Ensure public confidence to boost nat’l economy

Vice President Leni Robredo said the government must ensure it has public confidence in addressing the coronavirus pandemic that would improve the national economy. Robredo, a leader of the opposition, stressed it is crucial for Filipinos that they clearly see the direction of the administration’s COVID-19 response efforts.

Vice President Leni Robredo (OVP / MANILA BULLETIN)

“One theme repeatedly came up in our meetings: Confidence. Confidence threads the pandemic and its effects on our economy together,” she said in Filipino in a recorded public address on Monday night. 

“This is why, especially now that we are grappling with a pandemic, the last thing that we need is even more instances that erode confidence,” Robredo added. 

She, however, noted the corruptions scandals hounding the government, among which are the alleged overpriced personal protective equipment and the irregularities at the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth). 

“How can there be confidence when we are unsure of where funds are going? How can there be confidence when every time the leadership holds a press conference, clarity is in short supply?“ she asked. 

Robredo said it is people’s right and duty to demand more from the country’s leaders as public sentiments show the reality on the ground. 

”Clearly, the people are willing to man the oars; what we need is someone to point us toward the proper direction. Someone to steer the ship of state,” she said. 

In her 20-minute address, Robredo laid down her recommendations from harmonization of cash-for-work programs for COVID-19 needs, wage subsidies for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), and ₱5,000 monthly aid for the country's 10 million poorest families for four months to keep them away from hunger. 

She also pushed for the establishment of online digital payment system, reintegration and livelihood programs for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), and creation of unemployment insurance system. Robredo underscored the importance of addressing the health crisis before setting in motion the “gears of the economy.” 

“Healthcare and the economy are not in conflict with each other,” the lady official said. Robredo emphasized no other than the government can save the country’s economy amid the pandemic. 

“Only the government can extend a lifeline to the economy; only government has the resources and machinery to do things at a significant enough scale,” she said. 

But to do these things, Robredo said the funds under the proposed Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, or “Bayanihan 2” are not enough to address COVID-19 problems. She lamented that the country is still dependent on a pre-COVID budget even while the challenges have changed. 

“The government must spend more, spend efficiently, and spend quickly, with the utmost sense of urgency, as if our economic survival depends on it – because it does,” she said.