MANILA — Vice President Leni Robredo on Tuesday said she considered the church as a partner "to do good and to bring good", as she asked the help of religious leaders in fighting election disinformation and reaching out to voters.
Robredo said the church in her hometown in Naga City helped establish a "People's Council" that allowed citizen participation and forced government to be honest. Her late husband Jesse was a longtime mayor of Naga.
"For a very long time, kami pong mag-asawa noong buhay pa ‘yung asawa ko, 'yung paniniwala po namin na 'yung simbahan, napakalaking force para maging partner siya ng pamahalaan to do good and to bring good," Robredo told lay organizations and religious leaders at the Parish of the Good Shepherd in Quezon City.
(My husband and I, when he was still alive, we believed that the church is a huge force that can be a partner of government to do good and to bring good.)
As presidential contender in the May elections, Robredo said she is batting for transparency, accountability, and people empowerment —which she said were the key to "real change."
"Pero hindi po namin kaya ito without all of you. And 'pag sinabi ko pong help, hindi natatapos 'yung help sa kampanya. Pero ang help po sa kampanya is only a vehicle. Pero mas malaking help ang kailangan namin sa inyo 'pag kami nakaupo na," she told the religious community.
"Sana maging able partner kayo ng pamahalaan para ayusin na natin once and for all 'yung klase ng pamahala at politika na namamayani sa bayan natin."
(But we cannot do this without all of you. And when I say help, it does not end with help in the campaign, but this is only a vehicle towards a bigger help that we need from you once we are elected. We hope that you will be an able partner of government so that we can fix once and for all the kind of governance and politics that reigned in our country.)
She said the first assistance she needed from the group was "political education" against "patronage politics."
"Yung mga tao, ang pakiramdam nila, utang na loob nila sa mga public servants 'pag natutulungan sila sa–'pag may namatayan sila, 'pag nagkasakit sila... And this has to change," Robredo asserted.
"Hangga’t hindi po natin napapalitan 'yung patronage politics, we will be getting the same kind of public servants that we have been getting."
(People feel they have a debt of gratitute to public servants if they get help when they lose a loved one, if they get sick. This has to change. Until we replace patronage politics, we will be getting the same kind of public servants that we have been getting.)
She also asked the group's help in fighting disinformation.
"Wag po natin aawayin 'yung mga naniniwala sa fake news. Kasi paminsan, hindi naman nila kasalanan dahil 'yung access din po nila sa information ay 'yung masyadong limited," Robredo urged her supporters.
"Pagtulungan na lang po natin na mabuksan 'yung kanilang mga mata to discern kung ano 'yung totoo, alin 'yung kasinungalingan."
(Let us not fight too much with those who believe fake news because sometimes it is not their fault that their access to information is too limited. Let us just work to open their eyes to discern what is true from the lies.)
Robredo continued, "Pangatlo, kailangan madala tayo na kumampanya na may kabuluhan."
(Third, we should be carried to campaigning with sense.)
She said when some voters are asked who they would vote for, they would answer, "Hindi ko alam, parang siya kasi 'yung malakas."
(I don't know, he seems strong.)
"And we don’t have elections to be decided on that basis, di ba? And 'yung mga nandito ngayon (those of you here), you are the very people we need to convince people kasi you are respected in your communities... Seventy days is enough time for us to parang get our acts together and work as one," Robredo said.
About 80 percent of Filipinos are Catholics.
Robredo and Catholic leaders have opposed several key policies of President Rodrigo Duterte, including his unsuccessful push for the revival of death penalty and the killings in his drug war.
Last week, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines cautioned the public against "historical revisionism" of the martial law period under the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, whose son and namesake is also seeking the presidency in the upcoming elections.