PRESIDENTIAL aspirant Vice President Leni Robredo championed citizen involvement in governance and vowed to implement equality in the workplace.

She cited the importance of empowering women, persons with disabilities (PWDs), and all other marginalized sectors.

The Vice President said she has always believed in people empowerment.

“Ang mga naka-trabaho ko na, alam na ang pinaka-malaking advocacy natin, which cuts across all sectors, is maglagay ng mechanism para ‘yung lahat ng mga sektor kagaya ng women, kagaya ng PWD, lahat ng marginalized, ay nabibigyan ng malakas na boses sa paggawa ng mga proyekto saka polisiya ng pamahalaan,” Robredo said at the online meet organized by the Robredo People’s Council (RPC).

The virtual event was attended by local government officials from Metro Manila and thousands of Robredo supporters, some of whom shared their personal stories on how Robredo and the Office of the Vice President (OVP) were able to help them in their livelihood, among others.

Robredo said that when she was a congresswoman, she filed the People Empowerment Bill that seeks to institutionalize the people’s involvement in decision-making and governance.

Local government units will be mandated to create a People’s Council, which will ensure the people’s involvement in public programs from start to finish.

With this, they will be seen as partners in development and not just as program beneficiaries, she said.

“Ano ang kaibahan? Kasi pag tinatrato kang beneficiary, ‘yung pagbaba ng mga programa, galing sa taas papunta sa baba. Delikado ito [dahil] ang nagdedesisyon hindi naman ‘yung miyembro ng sektor, pero nagdedesisyon kami na mga public officials, na lalo na kapag hindi kami bumababa sa mga sektor, ‘yung tinatawag natin na empathy, kulang ‘yun,” she said.

For example, she said LGUs implement programs for persons with disabilities but they are often not attuned to the sector’s issues and needs.

“Nangyayari ngayon, halimbawa bawat government unit, gagawa siya ng programa, ibababa niya sa PWD. Pero maraming pangangailangan ‘yung sector na hindi naman talaga natutugunan,” she said.

Among these, according to Robredo, is accessibility and where everyone is treated equally.

Robredo added that women and those from different religions also face discrimination when it comes to employment.

She said the government should carry out programs focused on these sectors and their respective needs and ensure that discrimination is addressed.

The Vice President added that she herself has been discriminated against because of her gender.

“Marami pa tayong kailangang ihakbang pagdating sa diskriminasyon. Babae din ako. Alam ko na mas marami opportunities ko compared to others, pero nararamdaman ko pa din na dahil babae ako, ang pagtingin sa akin, mahina; na dahil babae ako, kailangan ko mag-double time para ang ibigay sa akin na paniniwala ay maging kapareho sa paniniwala na binibigay sa lalaki,” Robredo said.

She said she has already come up with an anti-discrimination program in her Hanapbuhay Para sa Lahat Plan.

This includes initiatives such as public-private partnerships that will support and enable the elderly to continuously contribute to the economy, the expansion of avenues for women to participate in the economy, especially through the Stem (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) programs of academic institutions, and pushing for the Anti-Discrimination Bill and the Anti-Age Discrimination Act.