MANILA — Vice President Leni Robredo on Tuesday sought a partnership with the church for reforms that would give Filipinos space to participate in governance.
Robredo, who is running for president in the 2022 elections, said her late husband Jesse, as mayor, sought the help of Archbishop Leonardo Legaspi to set up a "People’s Council" in their hometown Naga City.
The group, she said, served as "parallel" to the city council "to make sure that the voices of the ordinary— in our case, Nageño—was heard" and "act as a fiscalizer of sorts" to those in power.
She said Jesse wanted to approve a proposed golf course in their city in the early 1990s to spur economic activity. But he dropped the plan after opposition from farmers in the People's Council, who were concerned that water for irrigation would go to maintaining the golf course, she added.
Robredo said the People's Council also helped draft the city budget, making sure that sectors would not need to resort to dole outs from officials.
"Kaya po kami nag-request ng audience with the religious, kasi I think—hindi I think, I believe—magiging very able partner namin kayo in pushing for this kind of reform, na matulungan iyong kaniya-kaniyang communities," she said in a speech at the Saint Louis School in Baguio City.
(We requested an audience with the religious sector because I think—no, I believe—that you will be our very able partner in pushing for this kind of reform that will help your own communities.)
Robredo acknowledged, "Kahit pa ako manalo sa eleksyon, kung solo lang ako, hindi ko kakayanin."
(Even if I win the election, if I go solo, I won't be able to do it.)
"Sa akin, ang daming mga problema na mari-resolve kung mas engaged ang tao," Robredo continued.
"Ang daming problemang mare-resolve kung ang tao naiintindihan niya kung ano ‘yong issues at hand, kung ang pagboto niya sa eleksyon hindi nakabase sa kung sino nakatulong sa kaniya, pero nakabase sa sino ba nagdadala ng mas pangmalawakan na tulong for all."
(For me, many problems can be resolved if people are more involved. Many problems can be resolved if people understand the issues at hand, if their vote is not based on who helped him or her, but rather, on who brings wider assistance for all.)
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.
Robredo trails early presidential race frontrunner Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. Other contenders in the May 9, 2022 elections include Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso, senators Panfilo Lacson and Manny Pacquiao, labor leader Leody De Guzman, and Duterte's former spokesman Ernesto Abella.