MANILA — Vice President Leni Robredo on Wednesday rejected what she dubbed as "propaganda" that the Liberal Party (LP) would influence her leadership if she is elected president in May.
Robredo, an independent candidate in the May elections, recognized that tags often used against her include the term "dilawan," a reference to the yellow color associated with the LP, which she chairs.
"Pero tanong ko nga, sino sila? Kasi right now, alam naman natin kung anong nangyari sa Liberal Party after the 2016 elections. Talagang na-decimate na… kakaunti na lang," the Vice President said in a One News interview.
(But my question is who are they? Right now, we know what happened to the Liberal Party after the 2016 elections. It was really decimated, left with few members.)
"In fact, we had to resort to opening the party to non-politicians already because most of the politicians transferred parties," she continued.
She added most of the seniors members of the party have retired from politics.
"Talagang naunahan lang kami ng propaganda at fake news na palaging sinasabi, 'Wala siyang sariling isip, sumusunod lang siya'," Robredo said. "Pero ang tanong ko nga, sino ang susundin ko? Sino ang susudin ko, nawala na nga?"
(We were just overtaken by propaganda and fake news which say 'She has no mind of her own, she just obeys'. But my question is, who will I obey? Who will I follow, when there is no one left? )
Robredo said politics "did not play a major role" during her term as vice president. Instead, her office's projects were "very big on private-public partnerships," she said.
"I reached out to everyone, I listened to everyone. Hindi tinatanong ko, 'Anong partido ka, kung ka-partido ba kita o hindi' (I did not ask which party are you from, whether we are allies or not)," said Robredo.
“Madali lang kasing sabihin na ‘Hindi, I will be my own person.’ Pero let my record speak for itself,” she added.
(It is easy to say, 'No, I will be my own person. But let my record speak for itself.)
Robredo mentioned the average age of her staffers is 27. She said she is "one of the very few" members of her office above 50 years old, and that her chief of staff is just 37.
"In the almost 6 years that I was VP, I worked with very young people. And I think iyon ‘yong (that is) key that most of our projects, most of the things that we are doing at the Office of the Vice President are very innovative, very creative," she said.
"If you work with very young people, unshackled pa ‘to by biases, wala sa kanilang pulitiko."
(They are still unshackled by biases, none of them are politicians.)
She said many of her staff members are fresh graduates or were previously involved with non-governmental organization.
"From many different spheres ‘yong pinanggalingan ng people I work with. And sa akin, sabi ko nga, hindi ako namimili (I don't discriminate). Even the people we consult, as far as policy briefings are concerned, we make sure they come from many different, parang ano, backgrounds. Parating gusto kong pinapakinggan iyong magkakaibang panig," she said.
(I always want to listen to various views.)
WHAT A ROBREDO CABINET COULD LOOK LIKE
Asked what her Cabinet would look like if she won as president, Robredo said its members should be "experts in their field", efficient managers, and "respected" by the sector they would lead.
"And then, number 4, iyong driving force sa akin ng governance is always empowerment and inclusivity. Para sa akin, dapat ‘yong pipiliin ko, naniniwala din doon, na nakikinig, nagbibigay boses sa stakeholders," she added.
(Number 4, the driving force of governance for me is always empowerment and inclusivity. For me, the people I will choose should believe that too and give voice to stakeholders.)
"I will not name names ngayon kung meron nang napupusuan (if there are people we are leaning towards), but there’s a group of many different teams who have been helping us since 2016," she added.
These teams have joined the Office of the Vice President's policy briefings since she became the country's No. 2 official, Robredo said.
She said it is important for a President to settle differences within the Cabinet as soon as possible so that these do not go out in public or result to policy conflicts.
"Para sa akin, napakaimportanteng role ng Pangulo iyong pagiging konduktor… making sure na on a day to day basis, iyong buong administration ay harmonious. Kasi sa tingin ko, ito ‘yong pagkukulang in many instances," she said.
(For me, a very important role of the President is being a conductor, making sure that on a day to day basis, the whole administration is harmonious. Because I think that was the shortcoming in many instances.)
"Hindi nawawala iyong conflicts. Pero ang gusto kong sabihin, dapat iyong conflicts, nase-settle sa level pa lang, sa level pa lang ng people closest to the President," added Robredo.
(There will be conflicts. But what I want to say is these conflicts should be settled immediately at the level of the people closes to the President.)