Robredo should be given a role

STRAWS IN THE WIND - Eladio C. Dioko - The Freeman

Vice president-elect Leni Robredo seems to be destined as a mere bystander in the Duterte government. The president-elect, when asked earlier if he was considering the Camarines Sur congresswoman as a member of his official family, categorically said no. The reason? Giving her a cabinet post might offend Senator Bongbong Marcos.

Afraid of Bongbong's ire? What about the ire of the more than 14 million Filipinos who elected Robredo? Actually, what makes Duterte distance himself from the incoming vice president is the same mentality that drives most traditional politicians from engaging the services of non-party personalities in the conduct of their government. It's still the same trapo mentality.

And we thought Duterte is a new breed politician. More than his bravado and dagger-sharp remarks on people he does not like, we thought he would rise above the common mold of officials whose over-riding concern is a solid hold on power and perks. His conspicuous partiality towards friends and associates in choosing his cabinet members as well as his refusal to give the vice-president-elect a role in his administration justifies the emerging disappointment of the general public on the incoming president's leadership mindset. More than disappointment is the matter of unity.

By ignoring the vice president-elect, an act made more eloquent by the planned separate oath taking, the new administration underscores disunity instead of unity as a platform of its governance. Can a government succeed without national unity?

We hope that in the days to come President Duterte would be more open-minded towards government workers outside his political groups, particularly those whose training and good track record can be harnessed to the maximum to help him achieve his mission.

We hope he would involve his vice president in the myriad concerns of his presidency, particularly with regard to poor Filipinos. The reason is that incoming vice president Robredo has had extensive experience in working with deprived and disadvantaged people. As a lawyer she was once coordinator of SALIGAN, a Naga-based legal support group that helped the poor in Camarines Sur. She also founded on organization called Lakas ng Kababaihan ng Naga which provided training in livelihood opportunities for women.

As a congresswoman Robredo's priority concerns centered on economics (she is a UP School of Economics graduate) and poverty alleviations. Her advocacy is development programs for the underprivileged for which reason she founded the Local Poverty Reduction Action Team whose mandate is poverty reduction in the country.

No doubt the millions who voted for Robredo was inspired by her anti-poverty staunch as a government officials and these people would only be too grateful to the new administration for advocating pro-poor programs and projects with Robredo as the point person. The same millions who voted for Robredo most likely also voted for the Davao Mayor because the latter has been known as a man of the masses. Hence, his giving Robredo an important role in his pro-poor projects would boost his image and strengthen the people's support of his administration.

Change was the bugle call of Duterte in his campaign for the presidency. As president, he cannot therefore keep an adversarial attitude towards his rivals in the last election. If he does, where's the change be promised? He would be following the vindictive policy of the outgoing administration, a direction which no doubt contributed to its rejection by the people. No, we are not suggesting that the new president turn lovey-dovey to the henchmen of the outgoing president. It's very important that he gathers his own klatch of loyal men and women to help him run the government efficiently and effectively. But as he does so he should not turn a blind eye to others who though outside the perimeter of his party and its coalition have been given a mandate by the electorate.

He should not act as though vice president Leni Robredo does not exist.




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