MANILA - Vice President Leni Robredo shared some of her office's COVID-19 pandemic response and how she gets her hands dirty to ensure that programs of the Office of the Vice President reach the public.
In a prerecorded interview on the program Kapamilya Konek, Konek ka Dyan on TeleRadyo aired Tuesday, Robredo said the online consultation platform Bayanihan e-Konsulta launched by her office already has nearly 900 doctor-partners helping provide medical assistance to NCR Plus residents.
The grouping includes Metro Manila, Bulacan, Rizal, Cavite and Laguna, which were placed under strict lockdown beginning late March due to the spike in new COVID-19 cases.
“Yung maliit na program na in-envision namin, lumaki nang lumaki, nanganak nang nanganak. Ngayon, yung doktor na volunteer partners namin, nasa 880 na. Yung non-medical volunteers na meron kami, 2,000-plus na. Yung involved na staff sa opisina namin, 100-plus na. So more than half of the office, nandito na sa Bayanihan e-Konsulta,” Robredo said.
(The small program we envisioned grew and grew. Now, we already have 880 doctors as volunteer partners. The non-medical volunteers are more than 2,000. The office staff involved are over 100. So more than half of the office is involved at the Bayanihan e-Konsulta.)
Robredo said they were overwhelmed at the start.
“Gusto lang namin, paano tayo mag-ooffer ng teleconsultation for people na walang capacity na magbayad, o for people na walang data so di sila pwede sa teleconsult,” she said.
(We only wanted to offer teleconsulation for people without the capacity to pay or for people without data subscription.)
Hospitals in the capital region were overwhelmed with the surge in COVID-19 cases in the past months.
“As of our 21st day of operation last week, parang meron na kaming 26,000 transactions. Ganito siya kalaki. Nag-start kami na wala kaming alam how to run it. Alam lang namin na kailangan. Sobrang swerte namin na ang daming doktor na tumutulong,” she said.
(As of our 21st day of operation last week, we had 26,000 transactions. We started off without knowing how to run it. We only knew that it was needed. We're so lucky that many doctors are helping out.)
She said that she, too, renders duty at the Bayanihan e-Konsulta program.
“Nagdu-duty ako. Pinaka-una kong duty sa pre-screening. Ngayon, nagdu-duty ako, emergency duty na overnight. Tingin ko, mahalaga yun. Tingin ko, mahalaga na kabahagi ako ng day-to-day kasi naiintindihan ko mga kahirapan. Pag naiintindihan ko kahirapan, natutugunan kaagad,” she said.
(I also render duty. My very first duty was in the pre-screening. Now, I man the overnight emergency duty. I think this is important. I think it's important to be involved in the day-to-day activities so I know what the challenges are. I can address the situation better when I understand the challenges.)
Aside from the teleconsult, the Office of the President also has an ambulance and a 24-hour medical team, and provides mobile laboratory and a swab cab.
Robredo’s office had provided personal protective equipment, medical supplies and offered free shuttle and dormitories to medical frontliners in the early months of the pandemic.
“Since the pandemic broke out March of last year, talagang umupo kami as an office and nag-decide kami na all hands on deck kami as an office para tumulong sa COVID-19 response. Parang flexible kami kung ano yung kailangan, doon kami,” she said.
(Since the pandemic broke out March of last year, we sat down as an office and decided to be all hands on deck as an office to help in the COVID-19 response.)
Despite challenges and criticisms, Robredo attributed to trust the success of the programs under her office.
“Pinagpaguran kasi namin yung trust. Hindi siya nagagawa overnight,” she said. Robredo said the first thing they did when she was elected as Vice President was to fix their internal system.
(We worked hard to earn the trust. You can't do that overnight.)
“Nag-aim kami ng ISO certification. Yung COA audit report namin, consecutive year na na unqualified yung opinion. Very transparent kami—lahat ng ginagawa namin, lahat ng nare-recieve, lahat ng binibigay, nire-report namin on Facebook. So yung mga tao, 'pag nag-call kami ng donations, dumadagsa kasi siguro alam nila na mapupunta sa intended nilang mapuntahan,” she said.
(We aimed for ISO certification. The COA audit report gave us unqualified opinion. We're very transparent. Everything we do, everything that we receive and give, we report it on Facebook. So when we call out for donations, many people help because they know it would go to the intended beneficiaries.)
Robredo admitted to being hands on in all of the OVP’s daily operations and programs.
“Before, ang Office of the Vice President, mas ceremonial office. Kasi, 'pag tiningnan mo, wala kaming masyadong mandato. Mas ceremonial office siya. Parang hindi ako willing to do that. So kinonvert namin yung opisina namin into an advocacy-heavy office in all the five years. Talagang babad kami sa ground. Not a week goes by na wala kami sa communities. Nabawasan lang ngayon dahil pandemic,” she said.
This passion for public service was due to her exposure to her husband, the late Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo’s work as mayor in their hometown, she said.
Robredo was a guest in the TeleRadyo show that also talked about her personal life, and how she is able to juggle work while being a mother to her three daughters.
“I have been accused of so many things. Nagsimula sa nandaya ako sa election, hanggang sa kung ano-anong bagay na ibinabato sa akin. Mahirap siya. Pero over the years, ang pinaka-lesson sa akin, hindi ka napa-paralyze because of clear conscience,” she said.