Robredo debunks claims Mindanao trip is for political gains; ‘I’m always here’

Published October 18, 2021, 2:19 PM

by Raymund Antonio

The impoverished and far-flung areas in Mindanao have always been the focus of the Office of the Vice President’s (OVP) Angat Buhay programs, Vice President Leni Robredo said on Monday, October 18, as she shrugged off accusations that her visit to Mindanao the past days was done to gain local support for her presidential bid.

Vice President Leni Robredo (Mark Balmores/MANILA BULLETIN)

“Ako kasi kahit sinong tanungin mo rito, kahit pa iyong political capital ko rito maliit, iyong Mindanao isa sa pinaka-binigyan ko ng emphasis mula noong naging Pangalawang Pangulo ako (You can ask anyone here, even if my political capital here is small, Mindanao has always been my emphasis since I became Vice President),” she said during a visit to Marawi.

“So, for the past five and a half years, saksi iyong mga tao rito na halos native ako rito. Halos babad—hindi lang halos—pero babad na babad ako rito. So, may eleksyon, walang eleksyon, alam nila na nandito ako (the people here are the witness that I’m almost a native here. I’m always here. So, whether there’s elections or not, they know I’m just here),” Robredo added.

READ: Robredo spends birthday in Marawi City; VP Leni turns over classrooms, housing units for Marawi rehab

She was in the province to meet various civil society organizations, academe, and advocates in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

Mindanao has always been President Duterte’s bailiwick but in 2010, Robredo got more votes in the then-Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) against former Senator Bongbong Marcos Jr., the son of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos who is widely blamed for starting the war there in the 1970s.

Robredo mentioned Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte as her office’s priority areas, as well as Bukidnon, portions of Misamis Oriental, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, and Zamboanga Peninsula.

“So binabalik-balikan namin siya kasi iyong pinaka-thrust ng aming Angat Buhay program, pupunta kami sa mga lugar na kailangan ng tulong galing sa pamahalaan (So, we keep on coming back because the main thrust of the Angat Buhay program is for us to go to places where government help is needed),” she explained.

It is the far-flung and impoverished areas that do not have access to government aid.

READ: Robredo says Angat Buhay is her ‘best legacy’

While she has worked in the Mindanao region since she won as vice president in 2010, Robredo admitted it became hard to visit the provinces when the pandemic hit last year because of the travel restrictions.

Only now when restrictions have eased is she able to come back again, the opposition leader added.

Robredo traveled to Cagayan de Oro, Bukidnon, and Marawi this past week for her office’s various initiatives—the Vaccine Express in Cagayan de Oro and the feeding program in Bukidnon.