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Know Your Candidate: Maria Leonor 'Leni' Gerona Robredo

“When we put the Filipino people at the deepest heart of our efforts, that’s when we can bring real and lasting change to this country.”
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Esquire Philippines is running a series of profiles on the most high-profile candidates for the position of President of the Philippines during the 2022 elections. This is intended to educate and inform Filipino voters as they make the potentially life-changing decision of choosing the country’s next leader.


Full Name: Maria Leonor “Leni” Gerona Robredo 

Birthdate: April 23, 1965

Age: 56 

Birthplace: Bicol, Camarines Sur

Religion: Roman Catholic

Languages Spoken: Filipino, English, Bikol Naga

Family

Father: Antonio Gerona (1933-2013). Lawyer, judge of the Municipal Trial Court in Cities, judge of Regional Trial Court Branch 28, professor of Law at the University of Nueva Caceres. 

Mother: Salvacion Gerona (1937-2020). Professor of English at the Universidad de Sta. Isabel in Naga.

Husband: Jesse Robredo (1958-2012). Secretary of the Interior and Local Government (2010-2012), Mayor of Naga (2001-2010), Recipient of Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service (2000).

Brother: Antonio Gerona Jr. 

Sister: Maria Lourdes Gerona

Daughter: Jessica Marie “Aika” Robredo. Executive Assistant at the Office of Civil Defense. MPA from Harvard Kennedy School. 

Daughter: Janine Patricia “Tricia” Robredo. Licensed physician. 

Daughter: Jillian “Jill” Therese Robredo. Undergraduate scholar of biomolecular science at New York University. 

Education

Elementary: Universidad de Sta. Isabel

Secondary: Universidad de Sta. Isabel

Tertiary: 

  • Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the University of the Philippines Diliman (1986) 
  • Juris Doctor from the University of Nueva Caceras (1992)
  • Passed the Philippine Bar Exam (1997) 

Government Service:

  • Vice President of the Philippines (2016-present) 
  • Congressman, Third District of Camarines Sur (2013-2016)
  • President, Naga City Council for Women (2008-2010)
  • Public Attorney, Public Attorney’s Office in Naga (1997-1999)
  • Coordinator, Sentro ng Alternatibong Lingap Panligal (1999-2012)
  • Founder, Lakas ng Kababaihan ng Naga (1992) 
  • Researcher and Economist, Bicol River Basic Development Program Office (1986-1987) 

Notable Achievements

As a member of the legislative branch during her term as a congresswoman, Robredo authored 35 bills, of which eight were passed into law. These laws are: the Philippine National Railways Charter Extension (RA10638), Sangguniang Kabataan Reform Act of 2015 (RA10742), Tax Incentives Management and Transparency Act (RA10708), Open High School System Act (RA10665), Graphic Health Warnings Law (RA10643), Decriminalizing Premature Marriage (RA10655), Strengthening the Probation System (RA10707), and Election Service Reform Act (RA10756). 

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Robredo was the vice chairman of the Committee on Good Governance and Public Accountability and Committee on Revision of Laws during her term as Representative. She also sat on the following committees: Appropriations, Bicol Recovery and Economic Development, Climate Change, Human Rights, Land Use, Local Government, People’s Participation, Rural Development, Suffrage and Electoral Reforms, Welfare of Children, and Women and Gender Equality. 

As a lawyer, Robredo was exposed to the government’s judicial branch of government during her time as a volunteer lawyer and employee at the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) in Naga City. While the PAO is technically under the executive branch of government, all lawyers are perceived as “officers of the. Court” and protectors of the justice system. Robredo is one of only two lawyers running for President.  

As a member of the executive branch since she was elected Vice President in 2016, Robredo launched a number of social programs that gave citizens direct access to assistance from the Office of the Vice President (OVP). The responsibilities of the OVP, as per Philippine law, are technically limited to assuming presidential duties if the president is unavailable and advising the President on all matters.

Robredo leads the anti-poverty program Angat Buhay, which has so far benefited over 600,000 families since 2016. The program focuses on providing low-income families with public education, rural development, food security, women empowerment, universal healthcare, and housing and resettlement assistance. During the pandemic, the OVP launched a number of COVID-19 response programs, such as the Bayanihan E-Konsulta, Swab Cab, Vaccine Express, Community Learning Hubs, Community Mart, and more. 

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The OVP is also known for immediately responding to national calamities with relief efforts and incorporating the assistance of other OVP projects, such as the BAHAYanihan program and direct donations from the Angat Buhay program. 

During her term, the OVP has garnered the highest audit rating from the Commission on Audit for three consecutive years. 

Legal Proceedings

In 2016, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. filed an electoral protest against Robredo after the two ran against each other for the position of Vice President. Robredo won the elections and subsequently filed a counter-protest against Marcos. 

In 2021, the Supreme Court sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal dismissed Marcos’ electoral protest on the basis of lack of merit. As a result, Robredo’s counter-protest was also dismissed. 

Advocacies and Platforms

Leni Robredo’s presidential campaign is focused on creating jobs and providing Filipinos with economic opportunities after the recession. With the motto “Hanapbuhay Para sa Lahat,” Robredo’s five-point campaign plan consists of the following platforms: Restoring trust in government by implementing transparency and anti-corruption plans;  strengthening Philippine industry by bolstering the manufacturing, marine, climate, and agriculture sectors; ending employment discrimination to ensure Filipinos opportunities; supporting small businesses, which comprise 99 percent of businesses in the Philippines; and addressing unemployment by creating jobs and upskilling opportunities. 

The core of Robredo’s campaign is to create sustainable industries in the Philippines that will manufacture and export more products, increase the independence of the Philippine economy, and reduce the national debt. 

Aside from the jobs-focused campaign plan, Robredo has also vowed to improve the state of Philippine education, which she believes is the root of unemployment and underemployment. She has also committed to modernizing the Armes Forces of the Philippines and reasserting our rights in the West Philippine Sea. 

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On healthcare, Robredo plans to reform the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation and implement a universal healthcare law that will serve all Filipinos. 

On controversial issues, Robredo has publicly stated her support for LGBT rights, but is against abortion and divorce. However, she has stated she is open to discussions on such matters. 

Notable Quotes

On the presidency: “The president that we need is someone who rushes to be with you when you’re suffering, who is ready to sacrifice to help you, who is ready to face anyone to fight for you.”

On leadership: “True leadership is stepping up and showing up”

On staying focused: "You do not lose sight of what you believe in, you do not lose sight of the goal. You drown out the voices, because there are bigger battles to fight.”

On women empowerment: “When we pull each other up, when we lend each other our strength, when we each realize that it takes every one of us to hammer away at the ceiling so it may finally crash, that is when we truly succeed.” 

On the Filipino: “When we put the Filipino people at the deepest heart of our efforts, that’s when we can bring real and lasting change to this country.” 

On her supporters: “The energy and the passion of everyone wanting to contribute to the effort gives us hope. Every day, people make me realize that I did the right thing.”

Campaign slogan: Gobyernong tapat, angat buhay lahat.

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