vp leni robredo
Source: dw.com

Bravo Filipino | VP LENI ROBREDO – Proving that Women Can Lead the Philippines | Maybe the old adage “politics is a man’s game” is accurate; maybe this is true. Because if not all, but the majority of our elected leaders are men, why? Maybe because it came from the stereotype that women are weak, emotional and that they don’t have the iron fist to implement rules. This mindset and notion that women are weak and not fit to rule are deeply ingrained from the roots of our patriarchal society, a strong one that has been in our culture way back hundreds of years.

WOMEN IN POLITICS

Women have greatly suffered from our patriarchal society in many forms and ways. From unjust labor, their standing in the society, the way they dress, and most of all their lack of voice when it comes to the position of power – not to mention that they were not even allowed to vote. And the only time women can be in politics is when they are behind an elected man, standing just to look like a mother figure and support pillar for their husband.

CHANGING TIMES

But all of these have slowly changed through the effort of great women. Being the fighter they are, Filipinas have fought their way to their rightful place fighting this patriarchal society that we live in. Filipinas are not now seen as weak, fragile, and hopeless; but they are now seen as a symbol of strength and hope for everyone – even for men.

Although it’s still a long way before we can deeply move on from our patriarchal system and culture, Filipinas are paving the way for future generations to have equal grounds with men, especially in politics. Repositioning themselves from just a wife standing behind a man in power to a woman fighting and standing against them.

In a field dominated mostly by men, women have shown that they will not be overpowered and that they can fight equally against everyone. And this statement has been proven true by great women who have become leaders of our country – former President Cory Aquino, who fought against a dictator; and Vice President Leni Robredo, currently fighting the dictator’s son in the 2022 elections. This only just proves that women in power are as capable, or even better,  as men in the game of politics. 

VP LENI ROBREDO, CHAMPIONING WOMEN LEADERS

The 14th Vice President of the Philippines is Maria Leonor Gerona Robredo, an alternate lawyer, and public servant. Following the death of her husband, long-time Naga City Mayor and Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, Leni, as she is affectionately known, rose to national prominence after years of working with the poor and disenfranchised, teaching the less fortunate about their legal rights. She stepped into the political arena in 2013, when she won as Representative of the Third District of Camarines Sur, to carry on his legacy of good government.

While in Congress, she was asked to run for Vice President, and she overcame great odds to secure the second-highest elected position in America. For her part, she crafted Angat Buhay, a program based on six main advocacy areas: food security and nutrition; women empowerment; education; healthcare; rural development; and housing. She was determined to bring the Office of the Vice President to the people, therefore she spearheaded its creation. It has been able to help the poorest communities in the country thanks to the generosity of private sector businesses and individuals. Her initiative Istorya ng Pag-Asa aims to spread hope and happiness by highlighting the incredible experiences of ordinary Filipino people through words and images that are exhibited at events, exhibits, and on social media platforms.

As soon as she was named ICAD co-chair in 2019, VP Leni got to work meeting with various government agencies, local government units, private organizations, and other stakeholders in order to integrate government efforts in the anti-illegal drug campaign. She also visited a number of towns, many of which had been ravaged by the drug crisis. In her 18 days in office, Vice President Leni steadfastly worked to shift the anti-drug campaign to a more holistic, data-driven, and humanistic strategy, believing that the fight against illegal drugs is not only the government’s but also the fight of every Filipino. When she was done with the study, she went on to recommend a series of fixes for a number of gaps in our anti-illegal drug program.

In 2020, the Vice President led her office’s activities to support communities affected by the earthquakes in Mindanao and the Taal Volcano disturbance in Batangas and neighboring areas. She will continue to lead her office’s initiatives in the future.

As the COVID-19 outbreak grew in scope and severity, VP Leni and her staff showed grace and steadfastness by initiating one action after another. Amidst a lack of financial resources, the Vice President’s Office launched a number of programs aimed at filling the gaps in support for front liners and the communities they serve—from providing PPE sets, locally produced protective suits, and medical supplies for front liners in all regions of the Philippines; to provide free shuttle service and dorms for front liners in Metro Manila; to distributing medical supplies.

Vice President Robredo and her office stood steadfast when Typhoon Quinta, Rolly, and Ulysses barreled across Luzon at the end of 2020. When Typhoon Haiyan ravaged parts of the country, VP Leni was one of the first government officials to visit the affected communities. To help many impacted areas, the OVP used the Bayanihan spirit and her office’s culture of quick and smart response. She also cultivated the culture of her office and the Filipino Bayanihan spirit.

Over the past year few years, the OVP has made significant strides in professionalizing its ranks and fostering an environment of high standards. An ISO 9001:2015 quality management system certificate was received by the office in 2017 after it was initially submitted to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). It was recertified in 2020, despite the COVID-19 problem, preserving its shortened processes. For its financial reports for 2018, 2019, and 2020, the Commission on Audit has granted the OVP an unqualified opinion, which is considered the highest rating from state auditors.

In order to aid her fellow Filipinos, VP Leni is relying on the strength of collaboration and a belief in the people, and she intends to keep doing so.

PROGRESSING TOWARDS CHANGE

Most countries that are progressing towards great change and who did well against the pandemic are led by women leaders. Maybe it’s true that nations headed by women had “systematically and considerably better” outcomes in Covid-19 than countries led by males, according to a report by the CEPR and the WEF. Having a woman leader will greatly help in nation-building because while men leaders are trying their best to give everyone gender-equal rights, it is still different from having one that fully understands the differentiated needs for everyone.

This trust also shows that women have slowly moved on from the stereotype that they are weak and not firm when it comes to implementing laws. As a matter of fact, they can, but in their own way. People tend to follow women leaders not just because they are scared but because they respect them. Yes, having a leader with an iron fist can be good but it also has a lot of its downsides namely injustice, abuse of power, and retaliation from people. And we can all – if not most of us can- agree that it is better for the people to follow and serve out of willingness and respect instead of fear.

But people will still argue that we are unlike other countries, we are a third-world country and we need an iron-fist to change. But didn’t we experience that already? And what did it cause us? Thousands of Filipino lives. Maybe it’s time to start electing officials that care and understand everyone, both men and women, but at the same time can implement an iron-fist for a change. Because isn’t it better to have the best of both worlds? An understanding leader with a firm belief for change through strong justice – not cruelty. 

And just the way women have changed their way for progress, they are also changing and erasing the old saying that “Politics is a game of men” – through their efforts and exemplary works. Proving that politics is not a game for men; simply put it’s not just a game that one should play with; politics is about life and the people who fought to correct it. That’s why it should always have an equal representation and should always be represented by someone who truly cares and understands people.

Source