Vice President Maria Leonor Robredo is off to the United States to seek help in addressing hunger in communities and the 1.3-million socialized housing backlog in the country, among others.
Robredo will leave today and will serve as keynote speaker for the National Federation of Filipino American Association’s (NaFFAA) 12th National Empowerment Conference to be held at Valley Forge Casino & Resort, King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, on August 6.
The Vice President will then have a dinner with the Filipino-American communities in San Francisco, California, on August 7 before returning home to Manila on August 11.
It will be the second foreign trip for Robredo, who has been named the head of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) by President Rodrigo Duterte.
Last week, she was in Thailand, where she was awarded the “Honorary Outstanding Woman in 2016” by Thailand’s National Council of Women and Ministry of Social Development and Human Security.
“This US trip is on invitation of the Filipino communities. But even before this trip, a lot them (Filipinos in the US) had been asking me how can they be of help,” Robredo told reporters.
Ahead of her US trip, she met with representatives of the Filipino-American Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday afternoon to discuss its engagement with the Office of the Vice President (OVP) and Robredo’s role as the HUDCC chairman.
“The Filipino-American Chamber of Commerce wanted to talk to me before my US trip to focus on the matter since I would be a keynote speaker in their event, but those in San Francisco have been of help to our country for quite a long time. In fact, they have adopted communities,” Robredo said.
“I am looking forward to a fruitful trip. My speech will underscore our advocacies, and I am hoping that we could get partners,” she added.
The Vice President has at least three core advocacies: anti-poverty, urban development and good governance.
Robredo noted that the National Housing Authority (NHA) had spent as much as P50 billion for socialized houses that have never been occupied by supposed tenants.
“I would like to take up a lot of things on NHA because in my visit to these communities, the NHA built a lot of housing units for the Armed Forces and the police, but they turned out to be a white elephant. Nobody is occupying the units, and there are lots of them,” she said.
“There are unoccupied units in Pili, Camarines Sur, and Congressman [Gavini] Pancho of Bulacan also told me that there are also a lot of unoccupied NHA housing units in Bocaue, Bulacan. I want to take NHA to task because a lot of money was spent for the project and yet nobody is occupying [the houses there]and a lot of people are in need of a house,” Robredo pointed out.
The Vice President, however, clarified that her office will not be collecting donations for the pro-poor programs and would just work on providing the necessary government data needed to implement social security programs by visiting these communities and forwarding their findings to those who are willing to be of help.
“Twice a week, I go around communities. The data that we would gather from such visits will be forwarded to the sectors willing to help, giving them a sense of how it is on the ground, then we link our efforts. As for the budget, we won’t be involved in that. We can’t take over the budget and we can’t take pledges for donations,” Robredo said.
“The OVP would just serve as a conduit. We will provide the information and our partners will be in charge of the supply side. They are looking for projects [that they can fund], and we are the ones who will match these resources. We’re here for the legwork. The fund won’t go through our offices,” she added.