Former Philippine Vice President Leni Robredo kept her promise to meet with the Filipino American community in the Big Apple.
While she was in New York earlier this year, she was busy with her daughter's graduation at NYU. But recently, Robredo took the time to meet with her supporters at St. Joseph's Church in Yorkville.
First, she explained why a complaint has not been filed questioning the 2022 Philippine presidential election result despite allegations of fraud.
"It would have been a consolation for everyone kung may kasong i-fa-file because we could hold on to it. Pero we felt that it would be unfair to the supporters to let you keep on hoping on something that's not there," Robredo pointed out.
(It would have been a consolation for everyone if a case was filed because we could hold on to it. But we really felt that it would be unfair to the supporters to let you keep on hoping on something that’s not there.)
"Hindi ko po sinasabing walang dayaang na nangyari. Ang sinasabi ko lang walang nakita yung ating mga teams."
(I’m not saying that cheating did not take place. What I’m saying is our teams could not find anything.)
Moving forward, Robredo stressed the people's role in holding those in power accountable.
"For good governance to thrive, there should be at least three factors. Number 1 is accountability of government officials. Number 2 is transparency because transparency is an instrument to accountability. Pero yung number 3 na pinakamalaki, talagang people empowerment."
(But #3 is the biggest. And that is really people empowerment.)
Robredo added that it's important for Filipinos to believe that they have a stake in their own government.
"Kasi di ba yung narrative sa atin, 'pag na-elect ka na into office, ikaw na. Parang iniwan ko na sa iyo yung lahat ng obligasyon, bahala ka na, kasi inelect ka. Hindi ako naniniwala dun eh, kasi I've seen people, who are very well intentioned, pero pagpasok, nung nabigyan ng kapangyarihan ay parang naiba yung landas. Pero siguro hindi yun mangyayari, if the constituency is more empowered. Kasi may nag-ko-call out sa iyo parati.
(The narrative back home is when you get elected into office, it’s on you. It’s like you are left with the obligation. It’s up to you now because you are elected. I don’t believe in that. I’ve seen people who are very well-intentioned but when they are given power, they change. But that won’t happen if your constituency is more empowered and they can call you out always.)
From political ads to social media posts, Robredo said their goal is to take control of the narrative and turn even the worst candidates into what can be perceived as their best version.
Robredo also asserted that there have also been deliberate attacks against legitimate mainstream media by calling them fake news, as well as tarnishing their image and influence as the fourth estate and one of the guardrails of democracy.
She said this makes it difficult for digital consumers to distinguish between fact and fiction, and that without a common baseline of facts, democracy hangs in the balance.
"(If people are too polarized), if people don't have a common baseline of facts anymore, if people don't talk to each other anymore, it would be easier for the populist and the autocratic leader to flourish," Robredo said. "The fight against disinformation is our fight because it's our democracy that's at stake."
Robredo concluded that empowered people not only hold their elected officials accountable, but they also ensure that corruption and human rights abuses have no place in government.