Political positions of Leni Robredo

The political positions of Leni Robredo comprise the foreign, domestic, economic, and social policies held by Leni Robredo, the 14th Vice President of the Philippines. She ran under the Liberal Party ticket and is known for initially being the least popular candidate, with only 3% voting for her in surveys.[1][2] She eventually caught up to her closest rival, Bongbong Marcos, in the days leading to the elections.[3][4][5][6] She has constantly been a target of the criticisms of President Duterte, leading to the rift and exchange of remarks between the two leaders.[7][8][9]

Domestic policyEdit

Ferdinand Marcos' burial at the Heroes' CemeteryEdit

Members of the Supreme Court, under the recommendation of Duterte, would vote nine to five favoring Marcos’ burial at the Heroes’ Cemetery.[10][11][12] Robredo opposed Duterte's approval of the hero's burial for the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, criticizing the secretive burial as “like a thief in the night”.[13] Robredo released her statements through Facebook and Twitter, stating that “Marcos was a thief, a murderer and a dictator. He is no hero,”.[14] She also criticized the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police for being complicit and assisting in the execution of the burial.[15] This move was followed by protests from activists and victims, with human rights lawyer Barry Gutierrez describing the burial as “again in defiance of the law”.[16]

Robredo's resignation from CabinetEdit

 
President Duterte informally meets Vice President Robredo for the first time in public at a turnover ceremony held in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City

Days after the first informal meeting between President Duterte and Vice President Robredo,[17] the latter would be offered the top post at the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council through a televised phone call.[18][19] Months later, Robredo would tender her resignation through a letter dated 5 December 2016 to President Duterte.[20][21][22] This was after Duterte directed the Vice President to stop attending all Cabinet meetings.[23][24] Her resignation began to put her as the symbol of the administration's opposition.[25]

Duterte's declaration of state of emergencyEdit

With Duterte's open admiration towards former dictator Ferdinand Marcos and his leadership style,[26][27] his initial declaration of a state of national emergency after terrorist attacks[28][29] and eventually martial law was met with public fear,[30] despite measures taken by framers of the 1987 Constitution in ensuring that these powers were not to be abused.[31] The Vice President, despite coming from the opposition, respected this declaration for as long as it did not trample on the Constitution or fundamental rights.[32] She remarks, “We reiterate our call that we bring to justice those responsible for the violence in Davao and at the same time, our bill of rights is followed and treated with utmost respect[.]”[33]

 
Leni Robredo at the ASEAN Disability Forum

Human rights, extrajudicial Killings, and impeachment complaintsEdit

Robredo would air her concern over the vigilantism and violence associated with the Duterte administration's war on drugs despite her support of the policy.[6] She later condemned the widespread violence committed, adding her opposition against the culture of fear that does not value human rights.[34] Robredo would describe the war on drugs as a front to justify the violence.[35] In March 2017, Robredo would voice out sentiments of Filipinos against the police force. She called for international investigations of the administration's method of conducting its war on drugs,[36] opening up other abuses, such as battering up those who demanded search warrants and detaining relatives of the accused.[37][38] This message was done on video, which was to be screened at the 60th United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna.[39] Days after, Robredo would be subject to an impeachment complaint to pro-Duterte House Speaker Alvarez for her actions.[40] The complaint was written in a letter sent by Oliver Lozano, a lawyer linked to Ferdinand Marcos, describing her as “the termite of the government”.[41] President Duterte would defend Vice-President Robredo, telling his allies to stop plans to impeach her because of democracy and freedom of speech.[42][43]

 
A PNP-CIDG officer reads to Senator Leila De Lima her warrant of arrest

Detention of Leila De LimaEdit

Opposition senator Leila De Lima, an ally of Robredo, took on the president by investigating the death squad he was said to operate.[44] After opening up the topic on administration's bloody war in Senate, De Lima would be implicated in the drug charges during her stint as justice secretary, with allegations of a love affair between her driver and bodyguard being exposed.[44][45][46] De Lima had expected such charges to be filed against her by her former office, the Department of Justice, and called the possible arrest as “false and railroaded drug charges.”[47] Vice President Leni Robredo would slam this move in a statement describing the arrest as “the latest move in a persistent campaign of political harassment.”[48][49] In an interview with Time, Robredo expressed how the charges were driven by political opposition, rather than her being guilty of possessing illegal drugs.[50] The arrest of Senator De Lima was not barred by the Supreme Court,[51] with the court voting in October 2017 keeping her in jail.[52] De Lima's appeal for reconsideration would be junked by the Supreme Court in April 2018.[53]

 
Sample political map of federal regions in the Philippines under federalism

FederalismEdit

Robredo would first air her qualms against federalism at a mass oath-taking event in July 2016, adding that she has questions that must be answered before giving her support. She states the varying levels of readiness of the regions, worried about other regions that depend on the national government for income.[54] In February 2017, she would take on a more opposite stance against federalism. She raised the questions on the form and model that the government intends to implement, what the program seeks to solve, readiness of the Philippines, the trustworthiness of the Constitutional Assembly, and the financial independence of local governments.[55][56] In January 2018, her camp would express their opposition on the alleged plans of the PDP-Laban, President Duterte's party, to abolish the Office of the Vice President under a draft Constitution.[57][58] Opposition lawyer Christian Monsod stated in July 2018 that the transitory provisions of the draft could be used to nullify Robredo's right to succession.[59] At that same month, Robredo again questioned the need for a transition to federalism.[60]

In August 2018, Robredo criticized the controversial video of Presidential Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson and her co-host, Drew Olivar, where the latter made sexualized chants on federalism. Robredo said that the campaign video was not helping the cause of federalism.[61] Before this controversy, Olivar made a viral video cursing Robredo online. The legal team of the Vice President considers filing charges against Olivar for his actions.[62]

 
House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was among the authors of the revised transitory provisions passed by the House of Representatives

The allegation on the abolition of the Vice President's power to succession was achieved in October 2018 by a draft constitution passed by the House of Representatives. Section 4, Article XVII on the Transitory Provisions sets the Senate President, rather than the Vice President, as the successor of the President.[63] This was proposed by Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and 21 other lawmakers.[63][64][65] Vicente Veloso, House chairperson on constitutional amendments, cites the instability of the Office of the Vice President given the electoral protest filed by Bongbong Marcos.[66] Robredo's election lawyer, Romulo Macalintal, would call this proposal "clearly frivolous if not outright ridiculous", questioning the basis of succession on a pending election protest.[65][66][67] Robredo criticized the steps taken to set her aside as desperate.[64] This provision was amended days later, restoring Robredo's role in the succession line.[68][69]

Social policyEdit

Death penaltyEdit

During the vice presidential debates of April 2016, Robredo gave her thumbs down on the question on imposing death penalty for the corrupt.[70] In May 2016, the former Congresswoman turned Vice President expressed her opposition against the death penalty.[71] This is contrary to President Duterte's promise to reintroduce capital punishment and to launch a war against crime. This reintroduction was to be applied for drug crimes, rape, murder, and robbery.[72] Robredo's opposition cites that there have been no statistics that link diminished crime with death penalty and wrongful convictions of the death sentence.[73]

 
Pope Francis states the inadmissibility of the death penalty as an "attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person"

President Duterte in September 2016 points out that the growth of atheism and agnosticism has led to a lack of fear and respect for the law, which he uses as a reason to call for the death penalty.[74] In his State of the Nation Address (SONA) in July 2017, Duterte claims that the only way to stop criminals is to instill fear, and he further stresses the role of capital punishment not only as a deterrent, but also for retribution.[75] He warned during Senator Manny Pacquiao's birthday in December 2016 that there would be five to six executions daily.[76] As Congress moves towards reinstating the death penalty, Robredo commented that the bill was rushed "to accommodate the wishes of the president."[77] In August 2018, the Office of the President stated it would not give up on reinstating death penalty, in the midst of the opposition of Pope Francis and the Catholic Church.[78] Robredo would speak out against the killings in the drug war, noting that while there is a On need for an anti-drug campaign, rehabilitation of drug addiction is more important.[79]

DivorceEdit

During the campaign period in 2016, Robredo expressed her desire to fix the annulment system before tackling divorce. Her concern was to make it easy to access especially for the poor and marginalized. She also supports the use of physical and emotional abuse as grounds for annulment.[80] Robredo would repeat her views in March 2018, stating her openness towards a divorce bill that even the poor could access. She adds that she does not want, however, people to take marriage for granted, stressing the sanctity of marriage.[81][82]

Labor and contractualizationEdit

On 4 July 2016, Robredo vowed to collaborate with the Duterte government and to push for more jobs and ending contractualization in spite of their political differences.[83] Robredo expressed her gratitude and her move to protect Filipino workers during the International Workers' Day on 1 May 2017. One of the things she proposed is the abolishing of end-of-contract (ENDO) practices, which has been used to abuse and prevent laborers from getting permanent jobs.[84] On 22 April 2018, Robredo called for both workers and employers to talk about a compromise between workers who cannot find permanent jobs because of end-of-contract practices and businesses who become less competitive and run deficits with a strict policy.[85] After the violent dispersal of NutriAsia workers, Robredo on 2 August 2018 said that the harm done on the protesting employees calling for regularization is inexcusable.[86]

Women's rightsEdit

Days before her inauguration as Vice President, Robredo expressed her advocacy to work for anti-poverty and pro-women programs.[87] In May 2017, Robredo stated the importance of economic improvements for women to give them greater freedom from abuse. Robredo helps women through the Angat-Buhay Project of her office, which has overseen the growth and of their businesses. Robredo states the importance of quiet strength and collaboration, rather than leading, in promoting gender equality.[88] She has also urged women to protect their right to vote, reminding them of the plebiscite on 30 April 1937 that allowed women to participate in the elections.[89] Robredo has released her statement on feminism and the role of women in inclusive development.[90] She has repeatedly called for men to respect women and to stand up against misogyny and bigotry, stating that inappropriate and tasteless remarks have no place in society.[91][92][93][94] Robredo said on International Women's Day that equal treatment of men and women begins at home, citing the example of teaching young boys to wash their own clothes as a campaign against gender bias.[95] Robredo notes that the current administration has gone back to a culture of misogyny and bigotry, making women politicians disadvantaged at present.[96]

President Duterte has released controversial misogynistic statements on Robredo, noting in November 2016 how he and finance secretary Carlos Dominguez stared at Robredo's legs when she wore a short skirt and would change seats to get a better view of her body.[97][98] Women's group Gabriela and Vice President Robredo would later on flag Duterte's comments as inappropriate.[99][93] Duterte would later on defend his remarks, saying it was appropriate and natural of politicians to make people laugh, while blaming media for making a big deal out of it.[100][101] On 31 August 2018, Duterte proclaimed that Davao City has many rape cases because there are plenty of pretty women, which meant there were a lot to rape.[102] Malacañang's spokesperson, Harry Roque, would defend Duterte's rape joke by claiming that it is more liberal in the south,[103] but Gabriela Women's Party and Vice President Robredo slammed Duterte's misogynistic rape jokes. Robredo remarks that rapists are the sole causes of rape and not pretty women.[104][105][106]

Economic policyEdit

Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) LawEdit

Critics of the TRAIN program were wary of the increase in fuel prices which would offset the savings of wage earners from their tax cuts when the first implementation of the program was signed on 19 December 2017.[107][108] Inflation would rise to four percent in January, continuing to 6.7 percent by October 2018.[109][110] Robredo called for the government to act on aiding the poor by fulfilling its promised Conditional Cash Transfer program with rising prices of basic goods, whether or not this rise is caused by the TRAIN law.[111] Duterte's economic managers refuse to stop the program, despite calls from senators and various groups to suspend TRAIN.[112] Robredo would release another statement on the matter on 16 August 2018, urging stakeholders to review the TRAIN program given the continuous rise in inflation rate which affects the poor the most.[113] Robredo and the Liberal Party suggested a review of the safety nets that would ease the effect of inflation on the poor.[114] Amid rising prices, Robredo asked the Senate, House of Representatives, and President Duterte to certify as urgent a bill that will stop the added tax on fuel.[115]

Foreign policyEdit

China's militarization in the West Philippine SeaEdit

On 22 May 2018, Robredo and Associate Justice Antonio Carpio suggested that the government should file a formal protest against China's militarization of the area, after a long-range bomber was landed in the contested area.[116][117] Robredo called for peaceful public action to unite against China's militarization in the West Philippine Sea during the second anniversary of the Philippines' victory in the Permanent Court of Arbitration against China's nine-dash line claim.[118][119] She lamented the decision of the Duterte government to set aside the Philippines' claim while pushing for better relations with the People's Republic of China.[120][121] Albert Del Rosario, former Secretary of Foreign Affairs under Benigno Aquino III, criticized the Duterte administration's soft stance towards China, to which it refused to raise the ruling won by the Philippine government in 2016. Del Rosario describes this inaction as putting the award in a "deep freeze".[122] Robredo brought up the reported tensions between the Chinese Coast Guard and Filipino fishermen where the latter's catch were taken by the former.[123] Robredo described the consequences of China's militarization similar to the devastation of the Philippines during World War II, as the assertion of China's nine-dash line means that the Philippines will lose control over its exclusive economic zone.[124]

Foreign aid sponsored by ChinaEdit

 
Philippine President Duterte meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping at a dinner hosted by the latter at the Boao State Guesthouse

With the Duterte administration tapping China to finance its infrastructure projects, Vice President Robredo expressed her warnings against falling into a debt trap like Sri Lanka, who now spends 95% of its revenue repaying its debt.[125] Robredo said that assessing the deals made by Duterte with China is difficult due to the lack of transparency on the part of the government.[126] She stresses that while the Philippines is in need of financing, it should not give up its sovereignty. She adds that Filipinos should be more watchful on China's loans, which might come with consequences later on.[127] Robredo said before the Center for Strategic and International Studies-Pertamina Banyan Tree Leadership Forum in Washington, D.C. that China must be dealt with diplomatic resistance if it violates international law. She cites that smaller, less powerful nations could suffer from the aggressive expansionism of China.[128]

Overseas Filipino workers' deployment ban to KuwaitEdit

After news of widespread abuse of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and the discovery of a Filipina worker's body in a freezer in Kuwait, Duterte took steps to protect Filipino workers abroad by ordering distressed OFWs to be sent back.[129][130][131][132] Duterte would ban deployment of OFWs to Kuwait in February 2018, saying that he would ban deployment in countries that abuse Filipino migrant workers.[133] Vice President Robredo supported the move of Duterte to ban OFWs from Kuwait, adding that the incident of the dead Filipina should be an eye-opener to the abuses towards Filipino workers.[134] Robredo urged the government to come up with a bilateral deal with Kuwait to protect the OFWs.[135]

On 29 April 2018, Duterte said that the ban would stay permanently and would stop recruitment especially of domestic helpers. Relations between the two countries would go sour with allegations that the Philippine Embassy took distressed Filipinos directly from Kuwaiti households.[136][137] Robredo called for "decisive steps" to solve the diplomatic dilemma caused by the rescue missions done by the Philippine Embassy.[138] She adds that both parties must mend ties with "a willingness to accept accountability" and urged the Department of Foreign Affairs to use its career diplomats to solve the problem.[139][140] President Duterte would later on lift the ban on 15 May 2018 through a memorandum of agreement signed with Kuwait on 11 May 2018.[141][142][143]

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