MANILA - Presidential aspirant and current Vice President Leni Robredo revealed her achievements when it comes to helping macro, small and medium enterprises during the pandemic.
"Mahaba- haba ito,” Robredo replied candidly when asked about what she did to help the MSMEs during the pandemic.
Robredo was a live guest on Go Negosyo’s online presidential forum “Kandidatalks”, where each presidential aspirant is featured per episode.She began by saying that her office started preparing even before the pandemic began.
"Tinitigan namin kung ano ang nangyayari sa China, sa Italy. So ang pag-preposition madami ng medical supplies, PPE sets. Medyo nauna na kami doon , hindi pa tayo nagkaka-lockdown,” she said.
They began distributing PPEs and other medical supplies, which was critical especially when medical supplies became scarce, endangering the lives of medical frontliners.
"Dahil may mga partners na kami, napakadaling mag-switch to local manufacturing. MSMEs talaga ang kasosyo namin dito, sewing communities, sila ang katulong namin,” she said.
Robredo said tapping the local sector "proved to be a very good decision" since it enabled them to not only provide medical supplies to hospitals, but helped small businesses thrive. She said her office also provided shuttle services, dormitories for medical frontliners, and spurred additional businesses to meet certain needs.
"Yung nagkaroon ng dormitories, di sila nakapagpapa gupit, wala silang malalabahan. Ang iba walang ride papunta sa mga ospital. So parang nanganak ng nanganak: nagbigay kami ng mga washing machines sa mga dorms, libreng pagupit, motorsiklo at bisikleta”, she said.
Later on, the OVP opened “community marts” to allow people to buy from markets virtually, with the help of tricycle drivers.
"Mayroon tayong app. Nag-oorder tayo sa palengke at nag-dedeliver nito mga TODA,” she said.
When more people lost their jobs, the OVP put up a jobs-matching site called sikap.ph for blue collar workers.
"Ito ang mga construction workers, nagta-trabaho sa factory. Nagkaroon tayo ng 29 thousand jobs available online,” Robredo said.
They also helped small business owners gain online presence thru Bayanihanapbuhay initiative “Iskaparate”.
To help students cope with distance learning, the OVP opened community learning hub.
"Very proud kami dito. We have 58 all over the country, natutulungan talaga ang mga bata na hirap na gumawa ng modules,” she said.
When COVID-19 cases started surging, Bayanihan e-Konsulta was born. Robredo and her team gathered the help of volunteer doctors to provide medical assistance to those who wanted to get consultations for free, without going to the hospital. They also helped COVID patients gain access to medical care.
"Yung mga nagkaka- COVID, mild to moderate, pinapadalhan natin sila ng COVID care kits, kumpleto ng gamit. Yung nakaka-receive, minomonitor sila twice a day para kung may red flags sa symtoms sila na-aasikaso natin,” she said.
Swab Cab- a mobile testing center, and Vacine Express— to provide easier access to COVID- 19 vaccines were launched.
"Nagstart tayo sa Metro Manila, sa mga drivers, drive- thru siya. Pinaka-huli sa Capaz, Tarlac ang sinerbisyohan namin ang mga Aeta communities. Nung dati, ayaw...pero nung binigyan namin ng incentives, nag- uunahan pa sila,” Robredo said.
They also beefed up their sustainable livelihood programs particularly in areas under NCR plus. Robredo said they were able to execute these programs because they have prepared, and because of the Bayanihan spirit.
"Napractice namin in the last four years before the pandemic, na pag may sakuna o problema, nauunahan mo na. I think it has enabled us to respond very, very quickly,” she said.
“Parang kami lang ang nag- provide ng platform...pero ang help galing sa maraming tao. Halimbawa ang PPE sets, kulang ang supplies namin pero kung may tiwala sila sa opisina, tulong lang ng tulong. Totoo kami ang nagta- trabaho pero not all the time kami lang,” she added.
When asked what programs her office will prioritize for MSMEs if she wins in the 2022 elections, Robredo said plans to allot a P100 billion “stimulus package” for MSMEs, under her COVID Recovery Plan.
"Bakit kailangan ng stimulus package? Kasi kailangan natin itong i-back-to- back sa unemployment na napakataas ngayon," Robredo said.
"I-offer natin sa mga MSMEs para hindi na sila magtanggal ng trabaho. Kailangan din ng targeted na infrastructure para ma-protektahan ang mga negosyo at ma- promote ang outdoor activities para hindi kailangan magsara ng mga negosyo," she added.
Long term plans include “creating green, open spaces and well- ventilated infrastructure,” increase “access to credit”, and integrate MSMEs in the public sector procurement among others.
“Ang pamahalaan kasi dapat sa MSMEs bumibili kung sumasabay naman ang presyo at kalidad,” she said.