VP Leni: Ending pandemic the only way toward economic recovery

Published October 9, 2021, 8:14 AM

by Raymund Antonio

For Vice President Leni Robredo, the only way to fix the country’s ailing economy is by ending the pandemic through improved testing, tracing, treating, vaccinating, and properly equipping hospitals and health workers.

Vice President Leni Robredo (OVP)

The Vice President, who recently announced her 2022 presidential bid, said there is no way for any administration to help the economy recover without first addressing the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

“Mayroon kasi tayong (We have a) false dichotomy na (that) health versus the economy—hindi ako naniniwala doon. Para sa akin (I don’t believe that. For me), closely interconnected ang kalusugan at saka ang ekonomiya natin (our health and our economy),” Robredo, who has an Economics degree from the University of the Philippines (UP), told reporters on Friday, Oct. 8.

“Having said that, ang pinaka-unang (our very first) economic policy natin, dapat mahinto ang pandemya. Kasi hanggang hindi pa natin nahihinto ang pandemya, walang pag-asang makabangon ang ating ekonomiya (to stop the pandemic. Because until we cannot end the pandemic, there is no hope for our economy),” she added.

To do this, the leader of the opposition has repeatedly called on the Duterte administration to improve its testing capacities since the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a less than 5 percent positivity rate. The country currently averages 20 percent, which means there is not enough testing being done.

READ: COVID-19 response is PH’s no. 1 priority — Robredo

She is also pushing for the basics such as improved tracing and treating by equipping hospitals and providing for health care workers.

Robredo mentioned she wants to focus on ramping up the vaccination program, providing cash aid, and finding opportunities for work.

Since she won the vice presidency, she has been hard at work partnering with the private sector for her Angat Buhay program. Angat Buhay, Robredo’s flagship anti-poverty program, has provided opportunities and aid for its target beneficiaries.

Despite this initiative, the Vice President doesn’t want to assume that small businesses will supoort her in the May 2022 polls.

“Mahirap iyon sabihin. Ang pinaka-mahalaga na (That’s hard to tell. The most important is) we receive the backing of ordinary Filipinos. Kasi sa atin naman ang (For us, our) experience naman natin iyong negosyo nag-a-adjust siya sa kung anong gusto ng tao (the business will adjust to what the people want),” she said.

Robredo noted that her office, despite its meager resources, has been able to do a lot during the past five and a half years, due to the help of small businesses and ordinary Filipinos who chose to volunteer or donate.

READ: Robredo lauds private sector’s ‘generosity’ in boosting COVID-19 response

“So ang pinaka-powerful talaga sa amin iyong lakas ng ordinaryong mamamayang Pilipino (The most powerful for us really is the strength of the ordinary Filipinos),” she stressed.