Presidential aspirant Vice President Leni Robredo on Tuesday, Dec. 7, appealed to economic leaders as she highlighted the importance of a “trustworthy, empowering, and agile” government and took pride in her work over the past five years.
Speaking at the 10th Arangkada Philippines Forum, the presidential hopeful reminded participants of the work she has done with them in her office’s Angat Buhay projects.
Angat Buhay is the flagship poverty alleviation program of the Office of the Vice President (OVP) to “fill the gaps” in government response.
“My track record is out there for all to see. You know how I work. You know what I believe in. You know my intentions. I have absolutely no doubt that our values and our dreams for the country align,” Robredo said in her video message.
“I ask only that you consider all of these—my history as well as those of my fellow candidates’—as you reflect and decide in the coming months,” she added.
The Vice President described what her dream for the Philippines is—a “trustworthy, empowering, and agile” government that will put the people’s interest first.
“We should, however, consider first of all the character of the government that will be tasked to implement these steps. What is the big picture that they see? What are their core philosophies? Most importantly, can we trust that their actions will reflect the words that they speak?,” she asked.
Robredo hailed the Ambisyon 2040 Philippine Development Plan, which the National Economic Development Agency (NEDA) described the long-term vision and aspirations of the Filipinos in the next 25 years.
She noted that it was a “major project that required the sharpest economic minds in the country to take a deep dive into the data, building on decades of policies and economic themes to draw a roadmap for national progress.”
Despite the disruptions of the past 20 months because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Ambisyon 2040 “remains the main pathway towards the fulfillment of an enduring vision: To make the Philippines a prosperous, predominantly middle-class society; to lift our people from poverty; to have them live long and healthy lives, as they use their smarts and creativity within an enabling environment that allows them to achieve their dreams.”
To reach these aspirations, Robredo said what’s more important is to ask what kind of government a country needs to be.
Government, she said, has to be trustworthy but that is only possible when the “rules are unevenly applied” and a “professionalized bureaucracy, led from the top by people with unquestionable integrity.”
She highlighted the need for “institutionalizing transparency and accountability” based on a bill she filed when she was Camarines Sur representative—the Full Disclosure Bill, which put “financial transactions and documents of public interest readily accessible by the scrutinizing public.”
“Conversely, a credible and trustworthy government inspires confidence because investors will know that rules will be followed, and that those who don’t follow these rules will be held to account. Outcomes are more predictable, projections more reliable, and horizons come into clearer view,” Robredo said.
A government should also be empowering, which is possible through the National Competitiveness Council, and should listen instead of being restrictive.
“It is a government that listens and actively builds a workable and dynamic consensus with stakeholders, understanding that national progress is a goal that is shared by all,” Robredo stressed.
“The strategy here is clear: Find ways to unlock the energies of the economy. Whether it is through more rigorously implementing existing laws such as the Ease of Doing Business Act, or reviewing some of the more restrictive policies and legislation that serve as roadblocks for businesses to thrive—for example, the Public Service Act—you can rest assured that my administration will be on mission mode in executing this strategy,” she added.
And finally, Robredo wants modernization and digitalization in government processes.
This will lead to an “agile” government that will allow “the system to work with minimal arbitrariness and human intervention.”
“Digitization, therefore, must be treated as a front-end domino to unlock the economy—we must hasten the transition that has already been forced upon us by the pandemic, and formulate new, practical processes that reflect our online reality,” Robredo said.
But she noted that agility isn’t just about modernization. It’s about “a shift in mindset.”
“The entire bureaucracy must be made to understand that at the end of every decision is a family that might go hungry, a community that remains poor, or a child that is stalled on her way to her dreams,” she said.
“There is no other way to do this but through leadership. Those who govern must show that it is willing to go against vested interests and exhibit decisiveness, moral courage, and political will in the name of the public which it serves,” Robredo added.