MONTEVISTA - A day after officially stepping down as housing secretary, Vice President Leni Robredo on Tuesday visited a municipality in Compostela Valley where she tackled her office's partnership program with the community.
Robredo told her audience at Montevista that the municipality was chosen to be among the 50 towns to be adopted into the Office of the Vice President's "Angat Buhay" program.
"Angat Buhay" is the OVP's flagship anti-poverty project, which hopes to target five core advocacies: nutrition and food security, universal healthcare, education, rural development, and women empowerment.
Robredo said they came up with this program because unfortunately, the OVP is not mandated to implement programs, hence its small budget, which she said might have been the smallest in the bureaucracy.
"Pero sabi ko po noon, hindi naman yata pwedeng anim na taon tayo na Pangalawang Pangulo, wala tayong ginagawang proyekto kaya naisipan po natin na i-launch yung 'Angat Buhay' Program," she said.
In choosing the towns they partner with, Robredo revealed they considered the 20 poorest provinces and identified the municipalities with highest poverty incidences therein.
Though its income is classified as third-class, Montevista was among the chosen towns because it exemplifies good governance, having received a Seal of Good Local Governance previously.
"Mahalaga po sa amin na kung makikipag-partner po kami, maayos yung aming ka-partner kasi ayaw naman namin na andyan yung lahat ng tulong pero kami lang yung desidido, yung recipient hindi naman," she said.
"Hindi po namin ito tinitingnan na parang donor-donee na relationship. Ang tingin po natin ay ito ay partnership."
"Dahil nagpakita po ang ating mayor, nagpakita yung ating local officials ng husay at katinuan sa governance, hindi po kami nag-atubiling tumulong," she said, noting that only the municipalities of Montevista and New Bataan were adopted in the entire province.
As partners of this community, Robredo vowed that her office would assist in seeking funding for them especially among Manila-based offices.
"Inaalam namin yung pangangailangan ninyo, at tinitingnan din namin kung ano yung mga kalakasan ninyo kasi yung mga pangangailangan ninyo, tutulong po kami; pero yung mga kalakasan ninyo, hihingiin din naming sa inyo na i-share din natin sa iba," she said.
The vice-president visited Montevista National High School Annex, where they have a "Gulayan sa Paaralan" which boasts of containerized gardening.
"Napakaliit na lugar, nasa mga container lang, pero ganiyan yung napo-produce. Dahil may ginawa kayong ganiyan, gusto nating i-enhance yung programa, lalong palawakin, lalong ayusin kasi pinaka-ginaganahan tayong tumulong doon sa tumutulong din sa sarili," she said.
'WOMEN NEED TO BE ECONOMICALLY INDEPENDENT'
Robredo, widow of former Interior Secretary and long-time Naga City Mayor Jesse Robredo, in her speech also emphasized that women, especially battered women, go back to their abusive partners because they lack a good source of livelihood.
She recalled that a bulk of her clients when she was a lawyer were women abused at home, many of whom she had to rescue herself. These women, she said, would first threaten to file cases against their aggressors but would eventually mellow down and choose to go back.
"Alam ko po pati yung mga barangay officials nararanasan din ito: 'Pag galit na galit pa, kailangan tayo; pero pag nagkasundo na sila at sweet na ulit, hindi lang nakalimutan tayo, pero tayo na yung kontrabida," she said.
One of the biggest reasons why abuse victims go back to their partners, she said, is that the women are economically dependent on their spouses and do not have their own livelihood.
After this conclusion, they prioritized women's economic empowerment to come hand in hand with their gender equality and gender sensitivity trainings. She also pushed for a memorandum of agreement wherein Naga City Hall would purchase a small percentage of goods from indigent women instead of usual suppliers.
"Ang pinakamalaking market po kasi, gobyerno. Parang kasi kahit i-training natin, halimbawa gagawa ng mga bag, mga beadwork, sabon, pero wala namang market kaya nawawalan ng pag-asa pagkatapos," she said.
As the country's Vice President, this then would be part of the OVP's "Angat Buhay" program under Robredo's watch.