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Leni Robredo

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Her Excellency
Leni Robredo
VP Leni Meeting with Pres Duterte Cropped 2016.jpg
Robredo in July 2016
14th Vice President of the Philippines
Assumed office
June 30, 2016
President Rodrigo Duterte
Preceded by Jejomar Binay
Chairwoman of Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council
In office
July 12, 2016 – December 5, 2016
President Rodrigo Duterte
Preceded by Jejomar Binay
Succeeded by Leoncio Evasco Jr.
Member of the Philippine House of Representatives from Camarines Sur's 3rd district
In office
June 30, 2013 – June 30, 2016
Preceded by Luis Villafuerte, Sr.
Succeeded by Gabriel Bordado
Personal details
Born Maria Leonor Santo Tomas Gerona
(1965-04-23) April 23, 1965 (age 52)[1]
Naga, Camarines Sur, Philippines
Political party Liberal Party
Spouse(s) Jesse Robredo (m. 1987; d. 2012)
Children 3 (incl. Aika)
Residence Quezon City Reception House
Alma mater University of the Philippines Diliman
San Beda College
University of Nueva Caceres
Profession Lawyer
Website Official website
Government website
VP Leni Meeting with Pres Duterte Cropped 2016.jpg This article is part of a series about
Leni Robredo

Vice President of the Philippines


Member of the Philippine House of Representatives from Camarines Sur's Third District


Mayoral Spouse of Naga City


Personal Initiatives and Positions


Family


Official Residence



Seal of the Vice President of the Republic of the Philippines.svg

Maria Leonor "Leni" Santo Tomas Robredo (née Gerona; born April 23, 1965[1][2]) is a Filipino lawyer and social activist who is the 14th and current Vice President of the Philippines. Running under the Liberal Party, Robredo won the vice-presidency contest in the May 9, 2016 election, as confirmed and proclaimed by the official Congressional count of May 25–27,[3] with 14,418,817 votes (35.11% of the votes), narrowly defeating Senator Bongbong Marcos by 263,473 votes amidst controversy.[4] She is the second woman to serve as Vice President after Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and the first Vice President from Bicol.

Robredo first came to public attention in 2012 after the death of her husband, Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, in the 2012 Philippine Piper Seneca crash off the coast of Masbate Island. Prior to the accident, her involvement in public life was as a lawyer and social activist. After this, she ran in the 2013 general election and won as the representative of Camarines Sur's Third District to the Philippine House of Representatives for the 16th Congress, a post she held until her inauguration as Vice President on June 30, 2016.

Early life and education

Maria Leonor Santo Tomas Gerona was born on April 23, 1964 in Naga, Camarines Sur, Philippines.[5] She was the first of three children born to retired Naga City Regional Trial Court Judge Antonio Gerona and Salvacion Santo Tomas.[6]

Gerona was educated at the Universidad de Sta. Isabel in Naga, graduating from elementary school in 1978, and from high school in 1982. She then graduated with a degree in economics from the School of Economics of the University of the Philippines Diliman in 1986. She then went to obtain her Master's Degree in business administration at San Beda College prior to studying Law at University of Nueva Caceres, graduating in 1992.[2]

Early career

Inspired by the People Power Revolution after graduating from UP Diliman,[7] Gerona chose to temporarily forego law studies and instead decided to work as a researcher for the Bicol River Basin Development Program (BRBDP),[8] a government agency tasked with integrated area development planning in the three provinces of the Bicol region.[9] Here she met then-Program Director Jesse Robredo, who would eventually become her husband.[9]

She passed the bar on her second attempt in 1996,[2][10] Robredo served in the Public Attorney's Office,[7] a role in which she often took up the defense for cases pursued by her husband, who by then had become Mayor of Naga.[8]

From 1998 to 2008, Robredo became the coordinator of Sentro ng Alternatibong Lingap Panligan (SALIGAN), a Naga-based alternative legal support group.[8] SALIGAN's work[8] aimed to encourage young legal professionals to take on leadership roles,[11] and involved visiting distant rural communities to provide legal services to residents who would otherwise have little or no access to such services,[12] as well as conducting legal advocacy by proposing amendments and new laws based on the needs of these marginalized communities. Later, the group's focus shifted to include helping rural women to acquire capital in order to become competitive markets.[12]

In addition, she founded the Lakas ng Kababaihan ng Naga Federation, an organization that provides training and livelihood opportunities for women, in 1989.[13]

In 2012, Robredo was named the chairperson of the Liberal Party in Camarines Sur.[14][15][16][17][18]

Congressional career

Leni Robredo unveiling the Jesse Robredo Monument at the Cararayan National High School in Naga, May 27, 2016

She ran in Camarines Sur's 3rd congressional district during the Philippine general elections of 2013. On May 16, 2013 she was proclaimed winner, beating Nelly Favis-Villafuerte (of Nationalist People's Coalition/United Nationalist Alliance), wife of former Congressman Luis Villafuerte[19] and member of the politically powerful Villafuerte dynasty[20]

Robredo delivering a speech during a LP campaign rally in Quezon City, February 17, 2016

During her term in congress, Robredo was the vice chairman of the House committees on good governance, public accountibility, and revision of laws, and a member of 11 other house panels.[21] She was known for being a strong advocate of the Freedom of Information Act,[22] was a strong supporter of the Bangsamoro Basic Law.[23][24]

Participatory governance and transparency were major thrusts of Robredo's legislative agenda. The first law Robredo authored in congress was the Full Disclosure Policy Bill (HB 19), which would have mandated all government agencies and their sub-units and projects to disclose their budget and financial transactions in a conspicuous manner "without any requests from the public."[25] Concerned that the marginalized sector should not be denied access to government frontline services and public meetings based on their attire,[26] she sponsored the Open Door Policy Act (House Bill No. 6286),[27] which prohibits government offices and agencies from implementing strict dress codes.[27]

Robredo also authored the People Empowerment Bill (HB 4911[28]), which sought to allow more participation from Filipinos in decision and policy-making,[29] and the Participatory Budget Process Bill (HB 3905) which sought to increase participation in budget-related decisions in government projects by locals.[28][30][31] She also wrote the Comprehensive Anti-Discrimination Bill (HB 3432) to prohibit discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, race, religion or belief, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expressions, language, disability, HIV status, etc.[32]

To promote transparency in the taxation process, she sponsored the house version (House Bill 05831) of what would eventually become Republic Act RA10708, the Tax Incentives Management and Transparency Act of 2009 (TIMTA).[33][34][35]

Concerned about corruption in agrarian reform, Robredo co-authored House Bill 5841, which would have created an Agrarian Reform Commission that will focus on investigating violations against the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).[31][36]

Other major legislation co-authored by Robredo include the Anti-Dynasty Bill[37][38] and the Healthy Beverage Options Act (House Bill 4021).[39]

Legislative portfolio

As a member of the 16th Congress, Robredo was one of the principal authors of the house version of “The Tax Incentives Management and Transparency Act (TIMTA)” (Republic Act RA10708, House Bill 05831) which was enacted on December 9, 2015.[40] She also co-authored the house version[41] of the following laws: the “National Children’s Month Act,” Republic Act RA10661 (HB01641) enacted on May 29, 2015, declaring the celebration of the national children's month on November of every year;[42] the “Charter of the Quezon City Development Authority,” Republic Act RA10646 (HB03899), lapsed into law on November 8, 2014; the “Open High School System Act,” Republic Act RA10665 (HB04085) enacted on July 9, 2015, establishing and appropriating funds for the open high school system; Republic Act RA10638 (HB04089), extending the corporate life of the Philippine National Railways for another 50 years, enacted on June 16, 2014; Republic Act RA10707 (HB04147), amending the “Probation Law of 1976” enacted on November 26, 2015, rationalizing and strengthening the probation system; the “Graphic Health Warnings Law,” Republic Act RA10643 (HB04590), enacted on November 15, 2014, prescribing the printing of graphic health warnings on tobacco products; Republic Act RA10655 (HB05280), decriminalizing premature remarriages, enacted on March 13, 2015; and the “Sangguniang Kabataan Reform Act.of 2015,” Republic Act RA10742 (HB06043), enacted on January 15, 2016.[43][44][45]

In addition, Robredo was one of many co-authors of the National Budgets for the years 2014 (RA10633, HB02630, enacted on December 20, 2013), 2015 (RA10651, HB04968, enacted on December 23, 2014), and 2016 (RA10717, HB06132, enacted on December 22, 2015).[41]

Robredo was also a key supporter of: HB 4911: People Empowerment Bill to create a partnership between local governments and civil society through the establishment of a people’s council in every local government unit. This act also prescribes the powers and functions of the said council;[32] HB 3432: Comprehensive Anti-Discrimination to prohibit discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, race, religion or belief, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expressions, language, disability, HIV status, and other status, and will provide penalties for it;[32] HB 4021: Healthy Beverage Options to regulate the availability of beverages to children in schools and for other purposes;[46] HB 19: Full Disclosure Policy to require the full disclosure of all information on fiscal management from all national government departments, bureaus, agencies and other instrumentalities, including government-owned or controlled corporation, and their subsidiaries and local governments. This act will also provide penalties for violations of the said requirement;[47] HB 3905: Participatory Budget Process to institutionalize citizens’ participation in the budget process and for other processes;[30] and HB 3237: Freedom of Information to strengthen the right of citizens to information held by the government.[47]

Vice presidency

Presidential styles of
Leni Robredo
Seal of the Vice President of the Republic of the Philippines.svg
Reference style Her Excellency
Spoken style Your Excellency
Alternative style Madame Vice President
Vice President Robredo pays a courtesy call on President Rodrigo Duterte at the Malacañang Palace, July 4, 2016

On October 5, 2015, after her three daughters set aside their initial objections, Robredo announced that she would run for the post of Vice President of the Philippines under the Liberal Party in the 2016 election, as the running mate of presidential candidate Mar Roxas.[5] Robredo won the election with 14,418,817 votes or 35.11 percent of the votes, narrowly defeating closest rival Senator Bongbong Marcos by 263,473 votes or by 0.64 percent.[4]

Robredo was sworn in as Vice President of the Philippines on June 30, 2016 at the Quezon City Reception House, of which Robredo uses as her office.[48]

Robredo first met President Rodrigo Duterte personally at the Armed Forces of the Philippines change-of-command ceremonies at Camp Aguinaldo on July 1, 2016, a day after their inauguration.[49] She later paid a courtesy call on him at the Malacañang Palace on July 4, their first formal meeting.[50] On July 7, Duterte called Robredo during a press conference to offer her the Cabinet position of being the head of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, which Robredo accepted.[51]

Robredo is the third Vice President to head the government agency focused on housing programs, following her immediate predecessors Noli de Castro and Jejomar Binay. Duterte earlier said that he did not want to appoint a Cabinet position to Robredo due to his unfamiliarity with her and his friendship with Bongbong Marcos.[52]

In September 2016, after the onslaught of Typhoon Ferdie in Batanes, Robredo visited the island in which she offered aid and brought emergency shelter assistance to the people.[53] In the same month Leni Robredo met with Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas to discuss drug rehabilitation programs.[54]

In October 2016, international aid agencies have thrown their full support behind the antipoverty program of Vice President Leni Robredo, joining a summit scheduled on the same month where they will partner with the country’s poorest local government units. The summit known as Partnerships Against Poverty Summit will be held on Oct. 10 is a product of her twice-weekly visits to the poorest of the poor local government units (LGUs) in her first 100 days as Vice President. Some of the participants such as UN Children’s Fund, World Food Program, the UN Development Program, the EU, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank will help in “research, knowledge sharing, technical assistance, small grants for capacity building and the like,” said Georgina Hernandez, head of the OVP’s Anti-Poverty and Advocacies Programs.[55] Following the onslaught of Super Typhoon Lawin, Robredo visited Cagayan and met with Cagayan Governor Manuel Mamba and local disaster officials to inquire about the damage, which will be the basis for the kind of assistance her office will provide.[56]

On December 4, 2016, Robredo was informed by Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr. "to desist from attending all Cabinet meetings starting December 5," which prompted her to release a statement tendering her resignation as the chairwoman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, effective the following day.[57] Duterte supporters had tried to impeach her as Vice President, for criticizing his bloody anti-drug crackdown and other policies.[58]

During the Marawi crisis, Robredo called for unity as government troops engaged in a firefight against the Maute group in Marawi and started organizing donations and directing relief operations for the victims.[59][60][61] She would then visit wounded soldiers in Iligan to give support and contributions.[62] Robredo respects President Duterte's implementation of martial law in the whole of Mindanao as a way to combat terrorism, but requested for measures to ensure that the implementation would not reminisce the "abuses and violations" during Ferdinand Marcos' implementation of Proclamation No. 1081. She also questioned the coverage and prolongation of the implementation and called on members of the Congress to review and validate the implementation as a "constitutional duty".[63]

President Rodrigo Duterte skipped participation in what would have been his first Independence Day rites due to exhaustion. Vice President Robredo, as the second highest-ranking official of the country, led the flag-raising and wreath-laying ceremonies during the 119th anniversary of the Philippine independence. Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano stood beside her as Duterte's representative.[64]

Personal life

Robredo with her daughters.

Leni is known for her simple and down-to-earth lifestyle.[65] Leni was married to Jesse Robredo, whom she met while working at the Bicol River Basin Development Program, from 1987 until his death from a plane crash in 2012. The couple had three daughters: Jessica Marie, Janine Patricia, and Jillian Therese.[2][9] Their eldest daughter, Jessica, was an executive assistant at the Office of Civil Defense, while their second eldest, Patricia, was a UAAP basketball sideline reporter for National University.[66][67][68]

Starting on May 14, 2017, Robredo will host her own public service radio program entitled "BISErbisyong LENI", aired on DZXL.[69]

Honors and recognition

Robredo was featured in an episode of ABS-CBN's drama anthology Maalaala Mo Kaya on February 6, 2016, three days before the official campaign period for national candidates in the 2016 elections. Dimples Romana starred the role of Robredo, but Kaye Abad was portrayed in 2013.[70]

On August 1, 2016, Robredo was awarded as the Honorary Outstanding Woman Award of the Year 2016 by the Thailand government, coinciding with the Thailand's Women's Day. The recognition was given to Robredo, citing her works and advocacies for women's empowerment and pushing for gender equality.[71]

On August 23, 2016, Robredo was awarded as the Most Influential Filipina Woman of the World by Filipina Women's Network (FWN), a non-government organization.[72]

On April 19, 2017, Robredo received an honorary doctorate degree in humanities from the University of Saint Anthony in Iriga, Camarines Sur, her home province.[73]

References

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External links