Leni Robredo

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Maria Leonor "Leni" Gerona-Robredo
14th Vice President of the Philippines Leni Robredo.png
14th Vice President of the Philippines
2016–
Political Party: Liberal
Born: April 23, 1964 in Naga, Camarines Sur
Spouse: Jesse M. Robredo (1987-2012) (his death)
Children: 3
Website: www.lenirobredo.com


Maria Leonor "Leni" Gerona Robredo, also known as Leni Robredo, is a Filipino lawyer, social activist, and politician. In 2016, she narrowly defeated Bongbong Marcos, son and namesake of the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos, in one of the most closely contested national elections in the country to become the 14th and current Vice President of the Philippines. She is the second woman to serve as vice president after Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and the first vice president from Bicol Region. She is the widow of former Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Jesse M. Robredo.

On 7 October 2021, she filed her certificate of candidacy (COC) for president in the 2022 elections as an independent candidate, although she remains the chairperson of Liberal Party (LP). The 1Sambayan opposition coalition earlier endorsed her as its presidential candidate in 2022.

Early life and education

Maria Leonor Sto. Tomas Gerona was born on 23 April 1964 in Naga, Camarines Sur. She is the eldest child of Naga City Regional Trial Court Judge Antonio Gerona and Salvacion Sto. Tomas.

She finished her basic education at Universidad de Sta. Isabel. She took economics at University of the Philippines in 1986 and law at University of Nueva Caceres in 1990.

After graduating from UP, she planned to go straight to law school and be a lawyer just like her father. She graduated in 1986 just after the EDSA Revolution. In the wake of the post-EDSA euphoria, Leni was among those who decided to go into public service.

Robredo was conferred with honorary doctorates: Polytechnic University of the Philippines (2015, Doctor in Public Administration); University of Saint Anthony in Iriga, Camarines Sur, her home province (2017, Doctor of Humanities); and University of the Cordilleras (2017, Doctor of Laws).

Career

Leni took a job as a researcher at the Bicol River Basin Development Program, a government agency where she met its then-program director, Jesse Robredo, whom she would marry in 1987.

After passing the bar on her second attempt in 1996 and being admitted in May 1997, Robredo served in the Public Attorney's Office, a role in which she often took up the defense for cases pursued by her husband, who by then had become Mayor of Naga.

From 1998 to 2008, Robredo worked as a coordinator for the Sentro ng Alternatibong Lingap Pang Legal (Saligan), an NGO that provide legal services for the members of the marginalized sector, especially the poor, fisherfolk, and laborers in Bicol.

In 2012, her husband and then-secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Jesse Robredo, a 2000 Ramon Magsaysay Award winner, died when his plane plunged in waters off Masbate. After Jesse's death, supporters started to press her to consider a life in public service. She resisted in the beginning, stating her inexperience in politics, but eventually gave in to the encouragement of her supporters.

Congress

Robredo ran for congress in the 3rd district of Camarines Sur. With a lead of over 71,000 votes, she beat Nelly Favis-Villafuerte, wife of Luis Villafuerte, newspaper columnist of Manila Bulletin and former Monetary Board member of Nationalist People's Coalition/United Nationalist Alliance.

As a legislator, her bills sought to promote transparency in government and people empowerment. She was the vice chairman of the House committees on good governance, public accountability, and revision of laws, and a member of 11 other house panels. She filed 110 bills, 24 of which as principal author. Among the bills she wrote were the Full Disclosure Act of 2013 and the People Empowerment Bill of 2014.

Legislative contributions

Robredo is considered a champion of the Freedom of Information Act, has been a strong supporter of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, and was one of the primary authors of the Tax Incentives Transparency bill.

During the controversy regarding the misuse of Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), Robredo called for reforms in terms of transparency, people's participation, and removal of the lawmakers’ discretion over the identification of projects to be funded. She proposed the creation of the District Development Council (DDC) in every legislative district "to act as the sole body that will determine how a congressman's PDAF should be spent."

She was the vice chairman of the House committees on good governance, public accountability, and revision of laws, and member of 11 other house panels.

Membership in Civic Organization

  • Lakas ng Kababaihan ng Naga, Founder
  • Naga City Council for Women, Past President
  • Federacion International de Abogados, Member

2016 campaign for Vice President

In 2015, she was chosen to run as the vice presidential candidate of Liberal Party (LP) standard-bearer Manuel Roxas II for the 2016 election. She registered low survey rankings, trailing behind her vice presidential rivals at the beginning. With the help of LP's massive campaign machinery, Robredo's ranking gradually caught up with her rivals, having a statistically-tied fight against Senator Bongbong Marcos.

Robredo won the polls for vice president by garnering 14,418,817 votes—or 35.11 percent of overall votes for the said post, defeating rival and also, heavily-favored Marcos by 263,473 votes, or 0.64 percent of total votes.

Vice Presidency

Robredo was sworn in as Vice President of the Philippines on 30 June 2016 at the Quezon City Reception House. She was offered to head the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) in July 2016.

On August 2, the government of Thailand bestowed upon Robredo the Honorary Outstanding Women Award of Southeast Asia. She was also given the “Most Influential Filipina Woman of the World Award” by Filipina Women’s Network on August 23.

After the onslaught of Typhoon Ferdie in Batanes in September 2016, Robredo visited the island and brought emergency shelter assistance to the people. Robredo also met with the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas to discuss drug rehabilitation programs.

In October 2016, Robredo launched an antipoverty program partnered with the country’s poorest local government units. It was fully supported by international aid agencies. The Partnerships Against Poverty Summit, held on October 10, was a product of Robredo’s twice-a-week visits to the poorest local government units (LGUs) in her first 100 days as vice president. Among the summit’s participants were the UN Children's Fund, World Food Program, the UN Development Program, the EU, the World Bank, and the Asian Development Bank.

After the onslaught of Super Typhoon Lawin, Robredo visited Cagayan and met with Cagayan Governor Manuel Mamba and local disaster officials to offer assistance.

Robredo’s Angat Buhay Program has benefited 83,707 families across the country in its first year of implementation. On November 17, she was bestowed the TOWN's Tanglaw Award for 'championing women's rights' and 'empowering the marginalized'.

On 4 December 2016, Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr. informed Robredo "to desist from attending all Cabinet meetings starting December 5". She then tendered her resignation as chairwoman of HUDCC, effective the following day. Supporters of Duterte tried to impeach her as vice president for her criticisms on anti-drug crackdown and other policies.

In 2017, during the Marawi crisis, Robredo called for unity as government troops engaged in a firefight against the Maute group, and she organized donations and relief operations for the victims. She also visited wounded soldiers in Iligan to offer support and contributions. While Robredo respected Duterte’s implementation of Martial Law in Mindanao to combat terrorism, she has requested measures to ensure that the implementation would not resemble the abuses and violations committed during the time of Ferdinand Marcos. She also questioned the coverage and prolongation of the implementation and called on the members of the Congress to validate it.

As the second highest-ranking official of the country, Robredo led the flag-raising and wreath-laying ceremonies during the 119th anniversary of Philippine Independence. On July 6, the Philippine Quill Award was given to Lifestyle Asia for its cover story of the “Rise of a Statewoman” on Leni Robredo.

In October 2017, the Senate increased the 2018 budget of the Office of the Vice President (OVP) by Php 20 million, which was alloted to the OVP’s Angat Buhay Program. In the same month, she called on Filipinos to remember the 165 soldiers and police who gave their lives for the liberation of Marawi City. She added that her office would help in the rehabilitation of Marawi, through its flagship anti-poverty program.

On 6 May 2018, Robredo criticized China’s establishment of missiles in the west Philippine Sea. These were aimed directly at the Philippines. On June 19, she condemned the ouster of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

Robredo formally accepted the role as leader of the opposition in July 2018. Duterte called her “incompetent” on July 10, which sparked a feminist backlash against him. On July 26, the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) sided with Robredo and held a ballot shading threshold of the vice presidential electoral protest at 25 percent. On 31 July, she voiced her support for the people of Basilan after a deadly terrorist attack.

On August 5, Robredo voiced her support for the proposed anti-turncoat law in the House. On August 13, Duterte said that he would initiate a military junta if ever Robredo becomes a president. On August 28, she said that the martial law in Mindanao has failed to address threats in the region. On August 29, Robredo urged the House to increase OVP’s funding after Duterte House allies voted to slash her office’s budget by Php 100 million.

Duterte linked Robredo’s relative to the drug trade in Naga City and called the city a “hotbed of shabu.” She rebuffed Duterte’s claims and presented evidence of innocence.

On September 2, she pushed for measures to aid the government during the high inflation crisis. On the same day, after Duterte’s rape remarks, she stated that “rape exists because of rapists” and supported the victims affected by his speech. On September 24, Duterte apologized for falsely linking Robredo to an alleged ouster plot against him. On September 28, she visited the victims of a major landslide in Itogon, Benguet. On October 24, she announced the opposition senatorial slate for the 2019 senatorial elections and declared that “the opposition is alive.” The “Otso Diretso” slate included Mar Roxas, Romulo Macalintal, Samira Gutoc, Jose Manuel Diokno, Erin Tañada, Florin Hilbay, Bam Aquino, and Gary Alejano.

On November 4, Robredo supported Australian missionary Sister Patricia Fox, who was deported from the country after the latter opposed the deadly drug war. On November 17, she lashed out at the “special treatment” given to convicted criminal Imelda Marcos. On November 21, she called for transparency in government-sponsored deals with China.

On December 5, she hit out at the House for prioritizing the federal charter that benefits political dynasties over economic bills. On December 10, Robredo was cleared of accusations of an alleged ouster plot against Duterte. On December 21, she condemned the assassination of Ako Bicol Party-list representative Rodel Batocabe.

On 1 January 2019, Robredo visited landslide-hit towns in Camarines Sur. On January 15, she urged the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to take action against the national data breach crisis. On January 26, she condemned the deadly Sulu blast at a Catholic cathedral in Jolo.

On October 23, Robredo made a statement saying that Duterte should allow the UN to investigate the War on Drugs. She added that the said campaign has been "a failure and a dent on the country's international image." She was assigned as co-chairperson of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) on 4 November 2019, but was fired from her post after 19 days.

During the aftermath of the 2020 Taal Volcano eruption, Robredo went to Batangas and Cavite to distribute relief goods. She also distributed lugaw and pandesal to the victims.

On February 10, Duterte was cleared of charges filed by the CIDG over the “conspiracy to commit sedition.” During the COVID-19 pandemic, the OVP provided free shuttle services for frontliners and emergency workers as the entire island of Luzon was put under an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ). The OVP also delivered personal protective equipment (PPEs) to hospitals as well as food and care packages for health workers and their families.

On 16 February 2021, the PET unanimously dismissed Bongbong Marcos’ electoral protest against Robredo.

During her term as Vice President, Robredo has authored the following bills:

  • Full Disclosure Policy Bill (HB 19)
  • Open Door Policy Act (HB 6286)
  • The People Empowerment Bill (HB 4911)
  • The Comprehensive Anti-Discrimination Bill (HB 3423)
  • The Tax Incentives Managament and Transparency Act of 2019 (TIMTA) (Republic Act 10708)
  • HB 5841 (Creating the Agrarian Reform Commission to investigate circumventions and violations of CARP)
  • The Anti-Dynasty Bill
  • The Healthy Beverage Options Act (HB 4021)
  • RA 10661 - National Children's Month Act
  • RA 10665 - Open High School System Act
  • RA 10638 - Extending the corporate life of the Philippine National Railways
  • RA 10707 - Amending the Probation Law of 1976
  • RA 10643 - Graphic Health Warnings Law
  • RA 10655 - Repealing the crime of premature marriage
  • RA 10742 - Sangguniang Kabataan Reform Act
  • RA 10633, 10651, 10717 - General Appropriations Act FY 2014, 2015, 2016
  • HB 3905 (Participatory Budget Process Bill)


Among the Office of the Vice President's (OVP's) successful programs are:

  • Bayanihan E-Konsulta
  • Nagavax Express
  • Ahon Laylayan Koalisyon
  • Angat Buhay
  • Istorya ng Pag-asa
  • Swab Cab
  • Php 122,096 million worth of infrastructure built
  • Php 8.27 million worth of school kits given
  • Php 4.49 million worth of scholarships and technical training provided
  • Php 19.75 million appraised value of gadgets and items raised via Kaya Natin donation dirve
  • Bayanihan E-skwela
  • Community Learning Hubs
  • Instructional videos for teachers and parents
  • Php 12.3 billion total value of help given to families for housing/disaster relief
  • Php 42,163,811,073 million worth of help given to communities
  • Php 12.8 million contribution towards transitory shelter/shelter kits for Marawi
  • 207,244 families and 1,022 individuals given relief ops
  • 12,489 homes repaired due to related damages
  • 92,600 lightbulbs given to homes in Metro Manila
  • 3,776+ households given electricity c/o Angat Buhay

For poverty reduction efforts, the OVP's Angat Buhay has:

  • partnered with 330 organizations
  • mobilized Php 441,14 million worth of resources
  • helped 341,779 families and 381 communities nationwide
  • given 92,600 lightbulbs to Metro Manila homes
  • given sustainable livelihood/assistance and training
    • Php 8.93 million worth of projects; farm inputs; livestock; product development and training
    • 127 assisted individuals
    • 18 assisted accredited civil society organizations

The OVP also provided the following COVID response:

  • Php 503 million COVID 19 response
  • Php 58.84 testing kits
  • Php 64.7 million PPEs
  • Php 43.98 million dormitories for frontliners/workers
  • Php 35.6 disaster relief operations
  • Php 20.43 million gadgets for students
  • Php 17.28 million locally funded projects
  • Php 14 million hot meals for health workers
  • Php 2.5 million support towards employees exposed to COVID-19
  • Php 1.4 million hazard pay for regular employees
  • Php 817,000 hazard pay for contract of service employees
  • Php 249,500 hazard for contractual employees
  • 23,345 frontliners served through Vaccine express, Swabcab, free shuttle services

2022 Presidential Campaign

Robredo filed her certificate of candidacy (COC) for president in the 2022 elections, hours after she announced her presidential bid on 7 October 2021. She is gunning for the highest post in the land as an indepedent candidate, but remains as the chairperson of Liberal Party (LP). She welcomed the overwhelming public support even with the lack of machinery and resources. After her announcement, many people volunteered and shelled out their own money and think of ways to help.

On 3 November 2021, almost a month after announcing and filing her candidacy for the presidency, Robredo laid out a comprehensive plan for tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, dubbed "Kalayaang sa Covid Plan."[1] In a video published on her Facebook page, she outlined three key aspects of the plan, namely "freedom from the fear of getting sick, freedom from hunger, and freedom from the lack of education."[2]

The first item in the "freedom from the fear of getting sick" agenda is the installation of a competent and law-abiding government. This contrasts with the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, which has been marred with accusations of corruption in its pandemic response, particularly the one involving Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp., which the government awarded with contracts worth ₱12 billion for COVID supplies despite the company's shady record, having been formed only in September 2020 with no more than ₱625,000 for a capital.[3] Pharmally is said to have links to Duterte's former adviser Michael Yang. In a Senate hearing on 5 November 2021, a witness said the company was unable to account for ₱3.4 billion out of a declared ₱7.2 billion in purchases.[4]

Family

She was married to former Mayor of Naga City turned DILG Secretary Jesse M. Robredo. They have three daughters: Aika, an executive assistant at the Office of Civil Defense; Tricia, a licensed physician and former UAAP basketball sideline reporter; and Jillian, a biomolecular science student.

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