EDITORIAL: Deprived of Share
Travelling by land from Bicol to parts of Southern Tagalog, Central and Northern Luzon is an urgent eye opener. The Bicol region has been deprived for all these years a rightful share of the national wealth or more specifically of government funding, particularly with reference to public works and highways. The very impressive condition of the road leading to parts of Northern Luzon highlights the pressing necessity for a shift of national leadership.
For decades, Malacañan has been occupied by presidents coming from Northern and Central Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Obviously missing in the list is one from the Bicol region. Someone who projected an image of a potential president, the late Senator Raul S. Roco, almost made it. Fate however had been somehow been so unkind when the brilliant lawyer and legislator contracted a deadly ailment of cancer that led to his untimely demise.
The current Bicolanos who projected capability to be a presidential wannabe, have not been as fortunate or destined for the post. The only one left with a chance of holding the presidential portfolio is a woman. As they say the last man standing is a woman. Vice President Leonor Gerona Robredo.
VP Leni may not possess the brilliant academic qualities of some who have held the presidential position. But from among the present presidential contenders, she is better qualified. She may not be a bar topnotcher. She may also be not a duly recognized as yet as an outstanding economist. But her background reveals that she is better equipped for the presidential post. In her younger years, she worked at the Bicol River Basin Development Program which at some point in time charted the course of the region’s socio economic uplift.
When traditional politicians came into power, the integrated area development concept had been shelved. Upon hurdling the bar, she took the mission of helping poor litigants by joining the Public Attorneys’ Office. Later on, she went into private practice, even pushing further service to the poor, while at the same time functioning as Naga City’s first lady and mother of three daughters, she also found time to teach on part time basis handling economics.
After the tragic death of the late DILG Secretary and outstanding Naga City Mayor Jesse M. Robredo, she took charge of running the family. As fate would have it, the widow who at some time was being groomed as presiding judge of a Regional Trial Court branch, was plunged into politics as representative of the original second district of Camarines Sur. She easily won.
Her performance as district legislator drew the attention of national leaders who drafted her for the vice presidency. The rest is history. While bothered by a string of protests by her ever questioning opponent, she prevailed.
That may not be enough to make her better equipped for the presidency. What counts most is her performance during her incumbency, having handled different projects catering for the betterment of the poor, fondly described as belonging to the society’s “Laylayan”.
Robredo’s executive acumen is highlighted by her performance as Vice President. Deprived of a sizeable funding, she came up with projects like Angat Buhay, provision of Bayanihan e Konsulta at the height of Covid-19 pandemic and mobile swab cab, etc.
VP Leni displayed her leadership qualities at the height of major weather disturbances, the latest of which was Typhoon Odette. While others engaged themselves in photo ops and advancing excuses, the would - be president assisted by troops of volunteers rolled up her sleeves and flew to the typhoon ravaged areas probably to show that unlike traditional politicians, she knew where her heart is during calamities. Such proactive leadership attracted massive support from the private sectors.
But while we support extensive efforts to promote Bicol’s socio economic upliftment, VP Leni should bear in mind that holding the presidential post mandates her to develop not only Bicolandia but the entire nation, unlike others who have been too regionalistic.