“Investment in integrity and good governance makes huge business sense”, Rep. Leni Robredo (Camarines Sur, 3 rd District), Liberal Party vice presidential bet, said Friday night.
Robredo, who was the keynote speaker at the opening of Zonta International District 17 Area 3 meeting at Sugarlad Hotel in Bacolod City, said a nation that is ruled in justice and fairness is business-friendly.
Good governance is accompanied by jobs, growth and lower poverty. And a growing middle-class means more people can buy products and services, she said.
More importantly, global money is flowing into nations that are governed well, she added.
“We might have attracted some attention in the last four years, and became the new darling of emerging markets, but unless we sustain our reforms on the governance plane, that attention will once again fizzle out and we will go back to square one,” Robredo said.
“This campaign for good governance and this kind of public service that aims not to leave any Filipino behind, has now become my work as I try to fill my husband's shoes,” she said, as she stressed the need to empower people.
THE PERFECT SYSTEM
“Empowered people demand more from their government. They expect no less than transparency and accountability. This is the perfect system that keeps a leader not just effective but also honest,” she said.
Robredo said she has worked at the Public Attorney's Office helping indigent clients get legal help and with an alternative law group, an NGO called Saligan, where she worked with abused women and children, fisherfolk, farmers, workers, urban poor, indigenous people, and other marginalized sectors of society.
Her husband, the late Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo, as mayor of Naga, pushed for an inclusive and participatory style of governance where everyone was given a voice.
People were not considered beneficiaries but were considered partners in development and stakeholders, she said.
Since she became Congresswoman, Robredo said she has brought in billions worth of funding for infrastructure and social services to her district from innovative means of sourcing money within the bureaucracy and from private-public partnerships.
“We have built classrooms at very low costs, addressing the need for better and more accessible education for our people. While most local government units were giving dole-outs to people during typhoons for better political mileage, we have prepared our people for disasters so that they are not rebuilding each and every time there is a storm,” she said.
She also cited their creation of a system where women and workers can build their own businesses, which, in turn, solves hunger in communities, and their focus on health care for seniors and disabled persons.
Robredo said never thought she would enter politics.
“But you all know what happened. We lost Jesse just after we celebrated our silver wedding anniversary. I decided to continue his work for lack of champions. And now here I am, still trying to do the best to fill the shoes he left behind,” she said.
In the short time that she has been congresswoman, Robredo said she is amazed that some private citizens, entrepreneurs and organizations who are willing to foot the bill for such things as feeding programs for malnourished school children or construction of houses after storms or classrooms.
“This is the beauty of our nation. Many people think that Filipinos are apathetic and don't care beyond their personal worries, that is not true. There are many angels among us,” she said, citing help provided to her district after Typhoon Yolanda by the Negrense Volunteers for Change led by Millie Kilayko.
Robredo said one of the lessons that she has learned from serving is that there is nothing more effective than personally going around to see and talk to people.
“You cannot just wait for people to ask help from you. Because some are really just professional in this field. They are the ones who go to our offices and send us letters. But they are not necessarily the ones who need our help the most. If we really want to fill in real need, we go to where the suffering is really felt,” she said.
“We must be close enough to the ground so that we can help the people who are truly in need of assistance,” Robredo added.*CPG
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