Vice President Leni Robredo has yet to declare her intention to run as president in the 2022 polls, but she has already bared her three-point priority list that includes health care, education, and poverty alleviation.
She reckoned during a webinar hosted by the Presentation of the Child Jesus (PCJ) Parish Pastoral Council on Monday night, Sept. 27 that there are a lot of concerns that need to be addressed by the next administration since society’s “ills” have become “very systematic.”
“Ang daming kailangan asikasuhin, na ito hindi na siya puwede na—hindi na puwede dito iyong dati lang na ginagawa (There’s a lot that has to be fixed, it cannot be—we cannot do what we’re doing before). Very systemic,” Robredo noted.
“Kaya hindi na puwede na iyong (We cannot go) business as usual. Kailangan talaga mas (We need to do something more) dramatic iyong gagawin na mga paghalughog ng sistema para makasagot siya sa mga pinagdadaanan natin (to shake up the system so it can address what we’re going through),” she added.
The solution to these problems “all boils down to good governance,” Robredo said, calling it a “trigger point” to fix all of society’s ills.
First on her list is the country’s health care system, which has been weighed down further by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
“Dahil nasa pandemic tayo, ang kailangan talagang tutukan iyong ating (Because we are in a pandemic, we need to focus on our) healthcare system. Number one, kailangan na talagang maampat iyong virus (we need to stop the virus),” the Vice President said, adding that it’s been more than a year of swinging back-and-forth between getting better and getting worse.
Her suggestion is to “learn to live with the virus” by being willing “to shift to a new normal” through more testing, cash aid for the needy, and ramped-up vaccination program especially in the provinces where vaccines are scarce.
Robredo also highlighted the need to look at what countries that succeeded in curbing the virus transmission have done.
“So ang tanong natin, ‘Anong ginawa nila na hindi natin ginagawa?’ (So our question is, ‘What did they do that we are not doing?’),” she asked.
The Vice President once again pushed for the government to declare an “education crisis”.
She said that while problems in the education sector have been magnified by the pandemic, in reality, these already existed even before COVID-19.
Noting that the Philippines came in last in reading and second to the last in mathematics in various global learning assessments, Robredo said it worries her that this will have an “inter-generational effect” wherein gaps in learning will deny Filipinos the skills needed to compete in the global job market.
To address this, she wants to invest in digital infrastructure as the country shifts to a hybrid model of learning that mixes virtual and in-person classes.
“Hindi siya ganoon ka-urgent (It is not as urgent as) before, pero (but) because of the pandemic, naging (it became) very, very urgent siya,” Robredo stressed.
Despite its meager resources, the Office of the Vice President’s (OVP) flagship anti-poverty program, Angat Buhay, has empowered communities around the country.
Robredo said that the country’s poverty rate will increase because of the pandemic.
“Pero kapag sinabi natin na (But when we say) ‘poverty alleviation,’ hindi lang sila bibigyan ng pagkain. Hindi iyon, eh. Pero magke-create ng (they’re not just going to be given food. That’s not it. But to create) opportunities for them para maging maayos iyong kanilang kabuhayan (so their livelihoods will be better),” she added.
But this is where it gets more complicated, the opposition leader noted, because poverty alleviation is “multi-faceted”. She said the starts with getting rid of corrupt activities in government.
She lamented that the country’s corruption index has worsened.
Due to this, foreign direct investments (FDI) have suffered, affecting the country’s ability to build critical infrastructures such as hospitals. This has hindered the Philippines’ ability to keep its healthcare workers from leaving.