MANY citizens, impressed by the virtues they see in incoming Vice-President Leni Robredo, want to see her appointed to a Cabinet position when President-elect Rody Duterte takes office.
Among these is our columnist Marlen Ronquillo, who writes:
“Ms. Robredo should be in the government as an active executive official, not a spare tire … a specific executive office for Ms. Robredo carries a thousand pros for The Digong and almost zero cons.
“Ms. Robredo and Mr. Duterte agree 100 percent on who shall get the most attention from government. Mr. Duterte speaks of ‘the poor’ and the unprotected. Ms. Robredo phrases it differently—‘yung nasa laylayan (those on life’s margins). They are referring to the same sectors, my neighbors, myself, the kind of people referred to in The Sermon on the Mount.”
Mr. Ronquillo continues: “And they both see that there is a need for the heavy lifting from the state to accomplish that, not the hypocritical talk of ‘inclusive growth’ from the Aquino-Roxas Bros. A solid consensus on the thrusts of fundamental policies is probably the most ideal term of engagement between the President and his Cabinet. Mr. Duterte and Ms. Robredo share that consensus.” Mr. Ronquillo and many of our fellow Filipinos admire Mrs. Robredo for taking bus rides with her children from Bicol to Manila and back, just like ordinary and common citizens.
Kadamay says ‘No’ to Robredo in NAPC
But that is not how the urban-poor group Kadamay sees it. In a statement, it “slammed” the recommendation of National Economic Development Authority chief Ernesto Pernia for Ms. Robredo to convene the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC).
“Very alarming” is how Kadamay describes Robredo’s earlier announced desire “to streamline government’s anti-poverty efforts.”
Kadamay, however, lauds Mr. Duterte’s statement promising to entrust the National Anti-Poverty Commission “to a woman from the Left.”
Kadamay, making light of Ms. Robredo’s “signature bus travels and Jessie Robredo-influenced tsinelas,” said that compared to left-leaning women mentioned as possible appointees to chair the NAPC, Ms. Robredo can show nothing to prove her track record and sincerity in addressing our country’s massive poverty situation.
The pro-poor civil society group also said that Ms. Robredo, together with outgoing DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman, still has to prove herself innocent of having used 4Ps funds supplied by the PNoy administration to boost her campaign for the vice-presidency. [4Ps refers to the aid-to-the-poor "Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program”].
“How can we trust Leni to address poverty in the country when she has been known to have used poverty-alleviation funds to advance her political agenda. Despite so many complaints from 4Ps beneficiaries of her electioneering, have we heard any apology from Leni’s camp? “ asks Gloria Arellano, Kadamay national chair.
Kadamay, meanwhile, has a pending complaint at the Comelec against Mr. Roxas and Ms. Robredo for using 4Ps to haul beneficiaries to their campaign rallies.
“After joining the Liberal Party in the last election, Robredo quickly identified herself among the ‘yellow trapos,’ who have made use of poverty and the plight of the poor to advance their own political interests. The failure of their Daang Matuwid program over the last six years is a clear indicator not to entrust poverty alleviation to anyone from the LP camp,” said Arellano.
Kadamay fears that when appointed to head NAPC or any poverty-alleviation agency of the Duterte government, Leni Robredo might only continue the neo-liberal policies that are espoused by the Aquino administration and have proved to be extremely detrimental to the poor. These policies include the privatization of public services such as hospitals and housing, the deregulation of public utilities, and many other profit-oriented policies.
Kadamay also foresees that Ms. Robredo would not endorse the implementation of genuine land reform and national industrialization as the fundamental components of any Philippine government’s poverty alleviation program.
Ms. Arellano asks further: “In her years, if not decades of public service, have we heard her speak about land reform and national industrialization? Never, she is just like any national leader who came from the clans of big landlords and big capitalists that rule the country—the Roxas and the Cojuangco-Aquino included.”