ULAT NI VP LENI: Pilipino ang tumulong sa kapwa Pilipino  

(Vice President Leni Robredo’s report to the nation, aired at 11:30 a.m. on 27 July 2021, in Filipino. English translation was provided by the Office of the Vice President).

Tapos na ang SONA (State of the Nation Address) ng Pangulo. Nakarinig tayo ng talaan ng mga numero at mga proyekto. Sa kabila nito, may inasahan sana tayong madiinan na hindi nadiinan. Humaharap ako ngayon sa inyo para punan ang isang puwang; para maghayag ng isang katotohanan na mahalagang mabanggit ng kahit sinong pamunuan.

Ang totoo: Pilipino ang tumulong sa kapwa Pilipino; Pilipino ang sumalo sa kapwa Pilipino; nakaraos lang tayo sa nakaraang isa’t kalahating taon dahil sa lakas na ibinigay natin sa isa’t isa. Humaharap po ako sa inyo ngayon para idiin: Maraming, maraming salamat sa inyo.

VIce President Leni Robredo delivers her report to the nation on 27 July 2021, a day after President Rodrigo Duterte delivered his sixth and last State of the Nation Address.

Kami mismo sa OVP, naging saksi dito. Sa bawat pagkakataong tumawag kami—para sa oras, sa donasyon in cash man through our partners or in kind; sa kaalaman at payo na patuloy ninyong ibinibigay—hindi kami nabigo; palagi kaming dinagsa ng positibong tugon. Bago pa ideklara ang ECQ sa Metro Manila, halimbawa, nagkaroon tayo ng online donation drive para sa pinaka-urgent na mga pangangailangan ng frontliners—PPE sets, medical supplies, at food and care packages. Maraming salamat sa lahat ng tumulong, sa lahat ng nakipagpuyatan sa atin, sa lahat ng bumunot sa sariling bulsa para mag-ambagan para sa isang sakong bigas o isang kahon ng de lata.

Salamat sa mga local dressmakers at community-based sewers na hindi nag-atubiling gumawa ng murang PPE sets nang magkaubusan nito. Salamat sa mga medical specialist na sumuri at nagsigurong naaabot ng mga ito ang safety standards.

Salamat sa mga private partners na nagpahiram ng sasakyan at facilities para sa ating shuttle service at temporary shelters. Sa mga volunteer na konduktor, mga driver, pati mga naggupit sa buhok ng mga frontliners: Salamat sa inyo.

Nitong nakaraang taon, matinding adjustment ang pinagdaanan ng mga guro at estudyante dahil ipinagbawal muna ang pagpasok sa mga eskuwela. Inilunsad natin sa OVP ang Bayanihan e-Skwela para tumugon dito. Sa mga LGU na nakausap namin, sa mga volunteer tutors para sa Community Learning Hubs, sa mga educators, creatives, and celebrities na nakipagbayanihan sa paggawa ng instructional videos: Salamat sa inyong lahat.

Salamat din sa mga partners natin para maitayo ang sikap.ph, ang ating jobs-matching platform para sa mga blue collar workers, at iskaparate.com na nadala online ‘yung mga maliliit na negosyo. Nandiyan din ang maraming katulong sa TrabaHOPE apprenticeship program for Out-of-School-Youth, at ang mga partners natin sa pag-roll-out ng Community Mart app. Dahil sa inyo, nabigyan ng lifeline, ng trabaho at kabuhayan, ang mga kababayan natin sa panahong pinakakinakailangan.

Kung maaalala ninyo: Bago pa man magpandemya, nag-alboroto na ang Bulkang Taal. Gitna naman ng pandemya nang dumating ang sunod-sunod na bagyo. Isang tawag lang, napakaraming dumating na donations at volunteers. Sa Albay at Camarines Sur, nagtulong-tulong ang private partners natin pati ‘yung mismong mga residenteng nawalan ng tahanan; dahil dito, nakapagpatayo tayo ng mga permanenteng tirahan para sa mga nasalanta ng bagyong Rolly at Ulysses. Pagbabayanihan din ang ugat ng Angat Buhay Village na naitayo natin doon. Salamat sa lahat ng nakiisa sa mga inisyatibang ito.

Noong nagka-surge ulit ng mga bagong kaso dito sa Metro Manila, nagtawag kami ng volunteers para sa Bayanihan E-Konsulta. Muli, hindi tayo binigo ng kapwa Pilipino: 1,078 na doktor at 3,156 non-medical volunteers ang tumugon.  Ang dami ring kasamang volunteer doctors para sa Swab Cab at Vaccine Express. ‘Yung iba sa kanila, diretso na sa volunteer duty matapos ang mahahabang shift sa sari-sariling mga clinic at ospital. Kakaunting oras na nga lang ang natitira para sa pahinga, pinili pa ninyong ialay ito sa kapwa. Maraming salamat sa inyo.

Ang totoo, limang taon na nating nasasaksihan ito. Sa Angat Buhay programs pa lang, private sector na at volunteers ang nakipagbuklod para makapagpatayo ng dorms para sa mga estudyante sa pinakamalalayong lugar sa bansa. Sa Pola, Oriental Mindoro at Agutaya, Palawan, napailawan natin ang mga tahanan sa mga pinakaliblib na barangay dahil sa partnership sa pribadong sektor. May mental health facility tayong naipatayo sa San Remigio, Cebu—private sector din ang katulong. Sa Marawi, kaugnay natin ang local community para sa mga livelihood projects pati na sa pagpapatayo ng Angat Buhay Village shelters. Sa Bicol, natulungan natin ang magsasakang mapalago ang produkto at magka-access sa mas malawak na merkado—lahat dahil sa Pilipinong handang iangat ang kapwa Pilipino.

Walang malaking budget ang OVP; wala kaming malaking makinarya tulad ng ibang ahensya. Ang budget namin, tiwala; ang makinarya namin, taong nagkakawang-gawa. Can you imagine kung ano pa ang kaya nating gawin kung lahat, pati mga desisyon at polisiya ng gobyerno, ay ganitong klaseng pagbabayanihan din ang tutok?

Hindi tumigil ang pagkausap namin sa maraming mga eksperto, at mayroon silang mga rekomendasyon—mga bagay na pambansang gobyerno lang ang makakapagpatupad, at iminumungkahi nating gawin nang agaran. Marami dito, nabanggit na natin sa iba’t ibang pahayag. Kabilang dito ang mas mabilis at integrated na sistema para sa testing, tracing, and treatment, pangunahin na ang isang solid na database. Ang direktang paghahatid ng bakuna sa komunidad at tao. Ang pag-review ng perang nakalap mula sa Sin Tax upang mailaan ito tungo sa pangangailangang pang-pandemya. Ang pagbabayad ng mga utang ng PhilHealth sa mga ospital, para masigurong hindi sila titigil sa operasyon. Ang wasto at hustong pagpapatupad ng Universal Healthcare. Ang pagpasa ng Bayanihan 3, at ang pagsigurong maitututok ang pondong bunga ng batas na ito sa pagsigurong walang magugutom at walang mawawalan ng tirahan. Ang pagpapautang sa mga maliliit na negosyo. Ang tulong para sa mga nawalan ng trabaho, at malawakang retraining para makasabay sila sa nagbabagong mukha ng mga industriya. Ang paglalaan ng higit pang pondo para maiangat ang kalidad ng edukasyon.

Sa mga susunod na araw, masusubaybayan sa ating Facebook page ang detalye ng mga policy recommendations na ito; marami po dito, iminungkahi na rin ng iba’t ibang eksperto at sektor.  Ang sa atin lang: Kung hindi pa nagagawa, simulan na; kung nasimulan na, paigtingin pa. Dahil walang debate sa katotohanan na marami pang dapat gawin upang tumugon at maibangon tayo mula sa pandemya.

Kaya nga patuloy ang pagdidiin natin: Walang ibang dapat tutukan sa mga panahong ito kundi ang pandemya at ang kanyang mga epekto. All hands on deck, laser like focus ang kailangan. Ito dapat ang isalamin ng budget, ng agenda ng bawat meeting ng pamahalaan, ng bawat memo na ibababa sa buong burukrasya. Kung magkakabit ng billboard at tarp, sana tungkol sa kung paanong makakaiwas sa sakit. Kung may ipapagawa sa isang batalyong graphic artist, sana ang layunin, para dumami pa ang magpapabakuna. Kung magpapasa ng mga bagong batas, unahin sana ang pondo at pagpapatibay ng mga sistema laban sa pandemya.

Pero bukod sa paglalatag ng mga polisiya, alam din nating may isa pang napakahalagang tungkulin ang gobyerno: Ang itutok tayo sa iisang direksyon; ang ipaalala sa atin na anuman ang mga di-pagkakasundo, iisang bayan tayo. Tungkulin ng gobyerno, lalo na sa panahon ng krisis, na magpunla ng pagkakaisa.

Kapag patuloy na lumalabas ang mga kababayan natin kahit pa ECQ, hindi ba mas tamang itanong din natin kung bakit sila nagpipilit lumabas? Baka naman hindi lang sila basta pasaway. Baka magugutom sila kung hindi sila magtrabaho, o baka mas siksikan pa sa loob ng mga tahanan nila. Kapag dumaing ang mga doktor at nurse, hindi ba dapat ang unang tugon natin, Paano kami makatutulong, paano namin iibsan ang dalahin ninyo? Kapag may ayaw magpabakuna, hindi ba mas tama na bigyan sila ng insentibo, kaysa bantaan ng parusa? Kapag may mungkahi, hindi ba dapat makinig muna, kaysa agaran itong isantabi bilang pagbatikos at pagkontra?

Ang napapansin natin, sa tuwing may problema, para bang ang unang impulse ng iba, hanapin kung sino ang sisisihin, sino ang huhulihin, kaninong kritiko susunod na itututok ang mga troll. Tayo ang lakas ng isa’t isa, pero parang tayo palagi ang pinag-aaway—tayo ang hinahati sa tribo, ayon sa kung saang isla o probinsya ka lumaki, kung paano mo iniuumang ang kamao mo, kung sino ang sinuportahan mo noong nakaraang halalan.

Kailangan nang itigil ito. Nasa gitna tayo ng isang krisis. Tayo rin ang nagkakahawahan; tayo rin ang nagdurusa; tayo ang naaantala sa landas ng pag-unlad. Ang totoo: Hindi itinatanong ng pandemya kung sa aling grupo tayo nabibilang, o sa kung aling Partido tayo may membership card. Kapag may isang nagkasakit, lahat tayo nalalapit sa panganib. Kapag may nawalan ng trabaho, hindi lang nalalapit sa kahirapan ang pamilya niya; bumababa rin ang produksyon, nababawasan ang perang umiikot sa mga komunidad, tinatamaan ang buong ekonomiya. Ang hamon sa isa ay hamon sa lahat; ang pagpapabaya sa isa ay pagpapabaya sa lahat; at kapag tumulong tayo sa isa, naiibsan natin ang pagdurusa ng lahat.

Iisang bansa tayong tumutungo sa iisang kinabukasan, kaya nga ang sangandaang kaharap natin: Puwede tayong patuloy na maipit sa hidwaan. O puwede tayong makinig at magbukas ng puso sa isa’t isa. Puwede tayong magkaisa.

Kitang-kita ko sa lahat ng mga inisyatiba natin nitong panahon ng pandemya: Mapagmalasakit ang Pilipino, handang tumulong ang Pilipino, naghahanap lang ang Pilipino ng espasyo para magbuklod at magbayanihan. Ang kailangan nating gawin, lawakan pa ang mga espasyong ito, at sabay-sabay na itutok ang bawat hakbang, ang buong enerhiya tungo sa iisang abot-tanaw. Huwag tayong magpahulog sa mga hatian, na sa totoo lang ay inimbento lang naman ng iilan upang pabagalin ang biyahe natin tungo sa katuparan ng ating mga pangarap. Ituring ang kaharap hindi bilang kasapi ng kung aling kampo—pero bilang kapatid, bilang kaanak, bilang kapwa Pilipino.

Magkakarugtong ang diwa natin. At ang tanging paraan para madaig ang krisis ng pandemya—ang tanging paraan para maabot ang pinakamatatayog nating mithiin—ay ang kumilos nang magkakasama. Buong-buo ang paniniwala ko: Mulat ang Pilipino sa katotohanang ito. Buong-buo ang tiwala kong patuloy tayong kikilos upang isabuhay ito. Buong-buo pa rin ang tiwala ko sa sambayanang Pilipino.

Maraming salamat, at magandang araw sa lahat.

REPORT OF VP LENI: The Fiipino helped their fellow Filipino
27 July 2021

The President’s SONA is over. We heard lists of numbers and projects. And yet there were things we had hoped would be given emphasis but were not. I face you today in the hopes of filling a gap; of imparting a truth that must be affirmed by any leadership.

The truth: The Filipino helped their fellow Filipino; the Filipino came to their fellow Filipino’s rescue; we made it through the past year and a half only because of the strength we gave each other. I face you all today to say: Thank you very, very much.

We at the OVP bore witness to this ourselves. Each time we called—for time; for donations, in cash through our partners or in kind; for knowledge and advice that you continue to give—the Filipino never failed us; always, the positive response was overwhelming. Even before ECQ was declared in Metro Manila, for instance, we had an online donation drive to address the most urgent needs of frontliners—PPE sets, medical supplies, and food and care packages. Thank you to everyone who helped, everyone who stayed up late with us, everyone who dug deep into their own pockets to pitch in for a sack of rice or a box of canned goods.

Thank you to the local dressmakers and community-based sewers who didn’t hesitate to craft affordable PPE sets when supplies ran low. Thank you to the medical specialists who inspected these and made sure they were up to safety standards.

Thank you to the private partners who lent their vehicles and facilities for our shuttle service and temporary shelters. To the volunteer conductors, drivers, and even those who gave haircuts to frontliners: Thank you.

This past year, students and teachers went through intense adjustments because of the cancellation of face-to-face classes. In response, the OVP launched Bayanihan e-Skwela. To the LGUs we engaged, the volunteer tutors in Community Learning Hubs, the educators, creatives, and celebrities who exemplified bayanihan in crafting instructional videos: Thank you.

Thank you as well to our partners who helped build sikap.ph, our jobs-matching platform for blue collar workers, and iskaparate.com, which brought small businesses online. There were also our many collaborators for the TrabaHOPE apprenticeship program for Out-of-School-Youth, and our partners in rolling out the Community Mart app. Because of you, we were able to extend a lifeline, to give jobs and livelihoods, to fellow Filipinos when they needed it most.

You may also remember: Before the pandemic, Taal Volcano erupted. Right in the middle of the pandemic, successive typhoons struck. With just one call, donations and volunteers poured in. In Albay and Camarines Sur, private partners and the residents themselves who lost their homes worked together; because of this, we were able to build permanent housing for those affected by Typhoons Rolly and Ulysses. Bayanihan was also the foundation of the Angat Buhay Village we built there. To all who joined us in these initiatives, thank you.

When COVID cases resurged in Metro Manila, we called for volunteers for Bayanihan E-Konsulta. Once more, fellow Filipinos did not fail us: 1,078 doctors and 3,156 non-medical volunteers responded. Other volunteer doctors also joined Swab Cab and Vaccine Express—some heading straight to volunteer duty after long shifts at their own clinics and hospitals. You had so little time left for rest, and yet you still chose to offer it in service to others. Thank you.

In truth, weve been witnessing this for the last five years. Even with our Angat Buhay programs, it was the private sector and volunteers that banded together to build dorms for students in the farthest reaches of our country. In Pola, Oriental Mindoro and Agutaya, Palawan, homes in the remotest barangays were electrified thanks to partnerships with the private sector. We built a mental health facility in San Remigio, Cebu— also with help from the private sector. In Marawi, we worked with local communities for livelihood projects and in building the Angat Buhay Village shelters. In Bicol, we helped farmers expand their production and gain access to a wider market — all through Filipinos ready to help lift their fellow countrymen up.

The OVP does not have a large budget; unlike other agencies, we dont have an expansive political machinery. Our budget is trust; our machinery, a people willing to give of themselves. Can you imagine what more we could have accomplished if everything, including decisions and policies of the government, was oriented towards this same bayanihan spirit?

Our consultations with experts yielded recommendations— things implementable only by the national government, and that we ask to be acted upon as soon as possible. Many of these weve already mentioned in previous statements, including a faster and integrated system for testing, tracing, and treatment, primarily a solid database. Direct delivery of vaccines to our people and their communities. Reviewing revenues from the Sin Tax, for allocation towards pandemic needs. Paying off PhilHealths debts to hospitals to ensure their continued operations. Properly and sufficiently enforcing Universal Healthcare. Passing Bayanihan 3, and ensuring the funds from this law are used so that no one starves or loses their home. Lending to small businesses. Offering aid to those who lost their jobs, and giving them extensive retraining opportunities to help them keep up with the evolving landscape of industries. Allocating more funds towards raising the quality of education.

In the next few days details of these policy recommendations will be posted on our Facebook page, many of which were already proposed by other experts and sectors. Our point: If it hasnt been done yet, begin; if it’s already being done, intensify. There is no debate as regards the reality: Much is left to do to address, and lift ourselves up from, this pandemic.

Which is why we have persistly reiterated our message: There should be no other priority but the pandemic and its effects. We need all hands on deck and laser-like focus. This should be mirrored in our budgets, in the agenda of every meeting within government, in every memo cascaded down the bureaucracy. If we need to put up billboards and tarps, let it be about staying safe from illness. If need the services of a batallion of graphic artists, let it be for a vaccination drive. When passing new laws, let it be for funds and a stronger system to combat the pandemic.

But aside from laying down policies, we know that government has another very important responsibility: To orient us towards a single direction; to remind us that whatever our disagreements, we are ultimately one nation. The mission of government, especially in times of crisis, is to cultivate unity.

When our fellow Filipinos leave their homes even while under ECQ, shouldn’t we look deeper into their reasons for doing so? Perhaps there is more to it than simple hardheadedness. Perhaps they face the very real threat of starving if they don’t go out to work; perhaps it’s even more cramped and unsafe in their homes. When our doctors and nurses cry out for help, shouldn’t our first response be: What can we do, how do we ease your burden? When people are reluctant to get vaccinated, isn’t it better to give incentives, rather than threaten with punishment? When suggestions are being made, shouldn’t we listen first, rather than outrightly dismissing it as fault-finding and antagonism?

We’ve come to notice how, whenever problems arise, the first impulse of some is to look for a culprit, to look for a suspect to arrest, or to single out the next critic whom trolls can attack. We are one another’s strength, but it seems as if we’re always being pitted against each other –always being split into tribes, according to which island or province we grew up in, which gesture we make with our fists, or who we supported in the last elections.

This has to stop. We are in the midst of a crisis. No one else but us gets infected, no one else but us suffers, no one else but us gets stalled on the road to progress. The truth is that the pandemic doesn’t ask which group we belong to, or which political party appears on our membership cards. Whenever someone gets sick, all of us come at risk. When one person loses their job, it doesn’t just inch their family closer to poverty; it also slows production, reduces the resources flowing through our communities, and affects the entire economy. A challenge faced by one is a challenge faced by all; to neglect one means neglecting all; and to help one is to ease suffering for all.

We are one nation marching towards a single future, and we have a choice that lies before us: We can keep on fighting each other, or we can listen and open up our hearts to one another. We can unite.

I see this clearly in all of our initiatives during this pandemic: The Filipino is compassionate, the Filipino is always ready to lend a hand, we only need spaces to come together in solidarity and communal responsibility. The task ahead of us is to widen these spaces, and direct every step and every effort towards reaching one horizon. Let us not be fooled by illusions of disunity, fabricated by the few who seek to slow our journey towards the fulfillment of our dreams. Let’s treat those we meet not as members of one camp or another – but as brothers and sisters, as family, as fellow Filipinos.

We are all interconnected. The only way to overcome this crisis—the surest path to reaching our loftiest dreams—is to act as one. My faith remains steadfast: The Filipino knows and understands this truth. I remain faithful that we will keep striving to live out this truth. My faith in the Filipino people remains wholehearted and intact.

Thank you and good day to all.

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