SOGOD, Bacacay, Albay, Nov. 1 (PNA) -- “I am the pure and true Bicolano,” Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo, the Liberal Party's vice presidential candidate, claimed as her edge over four other Bicolano aspirants for the same position.
In an impromptu dialogue with local media and leaders of the Lagman political clan at its ancestral residence here on Saturday afternoon, Robredo said he is the only genuine Bicolano as she was born and raised in Bicol, unlike her political rivals who started their basic education in schools outside the Bicol Region.
Awing her audience and the media with her simplicity and straightforwardness, the Camarines Sur solon said she is proud to finish her elementary and secondary schooling at the Unibersidad de Santa Isabel in Naga City.
Robredo -- whose father is from Bulan, Sorsogon and mother, from Camarines Sur -- said although she took up her Economics degree at the University of the Philippines, she saw to it that she would spend her vacation in Naga City during her semestral breaks.
After earning her Economics degree in UP, she also entered the law school at the University of Nueva Caceres (UNC) in Naga City and passed the bar examinations in 1990.
Comparing herself with other Bicolano candidates for the second highest post in the land, Robredo said she can boast that she has worked with the grassroots by providing free legal assistance to the poor -- unlike her political rivals who are experienced, moneyed and have worked with well established law firms, some of them having even served big companies.
Robredo is pitted against experienced Bicolano lawmakers Senators Chiz Escudero, Gregorio Honasan (UNA), Allan Peter Cayetano (NP), Antonio Trillanes IV (Magdalo) and Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
Soon after passing the bar, she was employed at the government’s Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) in Camarines Sur and later joined the Sentro ng Alternatibong Lingap Panlegal (Saligan), a non-government organization giving free legal services to members of the marginalized sector.
“Confronting the legal issues of poor families about their rights, I too felt the hardship they had encountered,” Robredo pointed out.
She said all her legal services were “gratis et amore", saying “never in my mind I have thought of using my legal services to enrich myself.”
Robredo was guest speaker at the Haloween Forum initiated by LP stalwart and former Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel C. Lagman who is reclaiming his congressional seat after his son, incumbent Congressman Grex Lagman, gave way to his father.
She said she thought she was invited by the Lagman family for just a lunch but got surprised with the huge crowd that greeted her.
Robredo spoke to close to 2,000 Lagman leaders and aspirants for various municipal and city positions, wearing yellow shirts at the Lagman ancestral home here.
The elder Lagman pledged his all-out support to Robredo, promising an entire LP slate win in the 198 villages in the five towns and a city in the 1st District of Albay.
Lagman said he would convince his constituents to go all-out for Robredo because of her excellent traits like humility, sincerity, and risk-taking.
He said she will also push for the bill authored by his son, Grex, for the repeal of a Comelec ruling allowing elective officials seeking higher posts (president and vice president), especially senators, to return to their post even if they lose.
At the forum, the elder Lagman urged party leaders to support Robredo by boosting people’s awareness level about her candidacy as recent poll surveys indicate that her rating has improved from 3-percentage point to 15 percent.
Robredo lamented that she has no logistics to spend for television and print advertisements but she would rely much on interpersonal campaign.
She looks forward for the improvement of her rating in the coming surveys, saying “pagpinakilala ninyo ako sa inyong ka-barangay, ito'y magiging malaking tulong sa LP campaign.”
Asked to comment on the revival of the Bicol Express train operation being used as a campaign promise to gain voters' approval by other candidates, Robredo said “as the election campaign approaches, politicians promise the stars and heavens just to get votes.”
“It is a campaign strategy for them to look good, but they did nothing, you can ask them who among them fought for the renewal and the extension of the Philippine National Railways (PNR) when its charter expired,” she said.
“Records have it that I was the main author of the bill at the House extending the PNR charter and providing for additional capitalization, while Sen. Ralph Recto sponsored the Senate version of the bill,” Robredo claimed.
She said the plan is not only to revive the PNR but also to completely modernize it with new tracks and coaches in a five-year timeline under a Php200-B Pubic-Private Partnership scheme.
Asked if she would accept any cabinet position if elected vice president, she said she would not accept any cabinet post with administrative functions.
She, however, said, if ever, she would choose to head the National Anti-Poverty Commission, an agency pursuing program versus poverty.
Once elected vice president, she said, she would continue to ride passenger buses that she used to do even as a House representative.
But this time, Robredo said, she would be with companions.
On the looming power crises, she said, she would request a review of the Epira Law.
She also said she favors the continuance of the 4Ps, however, with wider coverage and bigger financial assistance. (PNA) CTB/FGS/MSA/CBD/RSM