MANILA - Vice President Leni Robredo's announcement of her intent to resign from her post as Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) head received mixed reactions from lawmakers and pro-poor advocates.
A pro-poor group said Robredo failed to address the housing problem in the country during her brief stint as HUDCC head.
Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (KADAMAY), in a statement, said Robredo continued the "pro-business trends" of the previous administration.
"She called for greater participation of the private sector in socialized housing which is as contradictory as it sounds. This policy has given rise to soaring amortization rights and inaccessible housing units for the poor," the group said.
They also said that despite being aware of the condition of people living in relocation areas all over the country, Robredo did not implement anything to address these issues.
"She witnessed firsthand the plight of those living in relocation areas in her visits across the country. The contaminated water that routinely resulted in illnesses among the people and the gross lack of services and utilities were presented to her HUDCC office time and again. Demolitions have remained rampant throughout the country, a fact that her late husband stood against at certain points. However she made no fundamental or even incremental steps to address this."
Robredo, likewise, failed in pushing for socialized housing by looking towards corporations for help.
"The Housing budget for her office was slashed yet looking towards corporations for help was never the solution but merely widening the cracks of an existing problem. Socialized housing is not socialized but commercialized. This is something Robredo did not seek to remedy," KADAMAY said.
Now that Robredo has resigned, KADAMAY hopes that whoever will replace her will be "more attuned to the needs of the urban poor."
"We hope her replacement will be more attuned to the needs of the urban poor. In order for the HUDCC to be a genuine agent of change it must recognize and fight for the housing rights of the poor. KADAMAY will stay vigilant and continue to stand against any type of anti-poor housing strides masquerading as developmental policies."
Lone District of Siquijor Representative Ramon Rocamora also believes Robredo's resignation is "bound to come" as she "doesn't fit the President's team."
Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, for his part, said he is "glad" that Robredo resigned from the Cabinet so she won't be "tainted" with Duterte's brand of politics.
"The resignation of Robredo from the Cabinet is bound to happen and I'm so glad it did happen sooner than later. Otherwise, she would have been tainted by the Duterte administration's politics of death, divisiveness, deceit and impunity," he said.
Meanwhile, lawmakers from the Liberal Party expressed their support for Robredo's decision.
Dinagat Islands Representative Kaka Bag-ao said Robredo's latest move is a proof of her consistency with her principles.
"This is yet another proof of her consistency with the principles she has shown long before being elected into public office. I am one with her in fighting against the restoration of death penalty, the lowering of the minimum age of criminal responsibility, the attacks against women, and not only the burial of a dictator in the resting place of heroes, but the attempt of the Marcoses to revise history and erase their wrongdoings," she said.
Bag-ao also expressed her belief that in the end, the truth shall prevail.
"She was the last woman standing in the elections, but she is the first to truly fight for what is just and what is right in the Executive branch. Naniniwala ako sa sinasabi niya parati na sa huli, ang tama ang mananaig," she added.
Senator Francis Pangilinan also expressed his sadness over the kind of treatment Robredo received in the Cabinet.
"We believe the Vice President should have been treated with greater respect. Nakakalungkot ang mga pangyayari. Hindi sana nauwi sa ganitong hidwaan kung binigyan ng kaukulang respeto at sapat na pagkilala ng Administrasyon ang Pangalawang Pangulo," he said.
(We believe the Vice President should have been treated with greater respect. What happened is sad. This could not have happened if the administration gave the Vice President the respect she deserves.)
Pangilinan, likewise, called on supporters to defend Robredo and the democracy she is fighting for.
"Ngayon, mas kailangan natin ang suporta ng mga nagmamahal sa ating demokrasya. Umaandar ang mga pwersang gustong ibalik ang mga Marcos sa kapangyarihan. Hindi natin ito papayagan. Defend Leni, defend democracy," he said.
(Now, more than ever, our beloved democracy needs our support. Forces are at work to reinstate the Marcoses to power. We will not allow this to happen. Defend Leni, defend democracy.)
For Lone District of Ifugao Representative Teddy Baguilat, Robredo's decision was not discussed with the party. He added that they were surprised by her announcement.
"This wasn't discussed, but not really unexpected considering how she has been mistreated by this administration. The order for her not to attend Cabinet meetings is tantamount to asking her to resign or firing her," he said.
He added that rumors of a plot to unseat her as vice president is an "affront" to the Liberal Party leadership.
"LP must make a strong stand to support her decision and denounce the plot to unseat her. She's the LP chairman, newly installed, so it's an affront to our leadership," Baguilat added.
Robredo announced that she will tender her resignation as Housing Secretary from the Cabinet of President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday, after receiving instructions “to desist from attending all Cabinet meetings" starting December 5.
Malacañang has yet to receive Robredo's letter.