Unlike many government agencies, the Office of the Vice President (OVP) has a measly budget that does not exceed P900 million for 2021 but with “trust” and “good deeds” from Filipinos, Vice President Leni Robredo initiated several projects to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.
The country’s second-highest official delivered her own address dubbed “Ulat ni VP Leni” on Tuesday, July 27, a day after President Duterte’s final State of the Nation Address (SONA). She was not able to attend the SONA physically, and instead watched via Zoom at home, because she is not yet fully vaccinated.
“Walang malaking budget ang OVP; wala kaming malaking makinarya tulad ng ibang ahensya. Ang budget namin, tiwala; ang makinarya namin, taong nagkakawang-gawa (The OVP does not have a large budget; unlike other agencies, we don’t have an expansive political machinery. Our budget is trust; our machinery, a people willing to give of themselves),” she said.
“Can you imagine kung ano pa ang kaya nating gawin kung lahat, pati mga desisyon at polisiya ng gobyerno, ay ganitong klaseng pagbabayanihan din ang tutok? (Can you imagine what more we could have accomplished if everything, including decisions and policies of the government, was oriented towards this same community spirit?” she asked.
During her address, which was aired on her official Facebook page, Robredo turned the spotlight on Filipinos who helped their fellowmen amid the threats and challenges of the pandemic as she thanked her office’s private partners and volunteers who made possible the numerous COVID-19 response programs she initiated in the past year.
“Tapos na ang SONA ng Pangulo. Nakarinig tayo ng talaan ng mga numero at mga proyekto. Sa kabila nito, may inasahan sana tayong madiinan na hindi nadiinan. Humaharap ako ngayon sa inyo para punan ang isang puwang; para maghayag ng isang katotohanan na mahalagang mabanggit ng kahit sinong pamunuan (The President’s SONA is over. We heard lists of numbers and projects. And yet there were things we had hoped would be given emphasis but were not. I face you today in the hopes of filling a gap; of imparting a truth that must be affirmed by any leadership),” she said.
“Ang totoo: Pilipino ang tumulong sa kapwa Pilipino; Pilipino ang sumalo sa kapwa Pilipino; nakaraos lang tayo sa nakaraang isa’t kalahating taon dahil sa lakas na ibinigay natin sa isa’t isa. Humaharap po ako sa inyo ngayon para idiin: Maraming, maraming salamat sa inyo (The truth: The Filipino helped their fellow Filipino; the Filipino came to their fellow Filipino’s rescue; we made it through the past year and a half only because of the strength we gave each other. I face you all today to say: Thank you very, very much),” Robredo added.
The OVP “bore witness” to how Filipinos came to each one’s rescue.
“Each time we called—for time; for donations, in cash through our partners or in-kind; for knowledge and advice that you continue to give—the Filipino never failed us; always, the positive response was overwhelming,” she said in Filipino.
Robredo mentioned that before the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), which effectively placed the whole country under lockdown, was declared in March last year, the OVP already had an online donation drive “to address the most urgent needs of frontliners” such as personal protective equipment (PPE), medical supplies, and food and care packages.
Similar programs were made possible because of her office’s private partners and donors and volunteers.
The vice president did not fail to mention the local dressmakers and community-based sewers who crafted affordable PPE sets when the supplies were low. They made sure that these are up to safety standards, so medical personnel can use them.
She also thanked companies who lent their vehicles and facilities amid the ECQ so the OVP can shuttle medical frontliners to the hospitals.
As teachers and students had to adjust because of the pandemic, Robredo said her office came up with the Bayanihan E-skwela and the Community Learning Hubs, so educators and students have a way to continue their learning with the help of digital and traditional tools.
The lady official also cited several products such as her jobs-matching platform sikap.ph, the iskaparate.com for small businesses online, the TrabaHOPE apprenticeship program for Out-of-School-Youth, and the Community Mart app.
“Because of you (private partners), we were able to extend a lifeline, to give jobs and livelihoods, to fellow Filipinos when they needed it most,” she said.
“Kitang-kita ko sa lahat ng mga inisyatiba natin nitong panahon ng pandemya: Mapagmalasakit ang Pilipino, handang tumulong ang Pilipino, naghahanap lang ang Pilipino ng espasyo para magbuklod at magbayanihan (I see this clearly in all of our initiatives during this pandemic: The Filipino is compassionate, the Filipino is always ready to lend a hand, we only need spaces to come together in solidarity and communal responsibility),” she stressed.