(Editors’ note: Atty. Joris-Karl B. Dacawi is pitching in for Atty. Pablito V. Sanidad’s corner.)
Leni – I never met Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Gerona Robredo but I learned a lot about her to convince me that she is very much qualified to be the next president of our country.
We had the chance to meet her when she came to the Laperal building along Session Road, Baguio City in 2016 when she was running for vice president. However, we were all out of the office at that time and only our boss, manang Che, was present. She said in Leni’s short visit, she felt the vice president’s simplicity and humility.
The works and deeds of Leni would show us that her heart is for the people. As a young lawyer, she provided legal services to people in far-flung communities in the Bicol region. In 1992, she founded the Lakas ng Kababaihan ng Naga Federation, an organization that provides training and livelihood opportunities for women. In 2013, Leni was elected as representative of the 3rd district of Camarines Sur.
As congresswoman, she was a strong advocate in the passage of laws related to the improvement of the living conditions of those belonging to the marginalized sectors of society. Her legislative agenda was geared towards laws that encouraged transparency in government transactions and bringing government services closer to the people. When she was a representative, Leni rode the bus from Manila to Naga and would arrive at her home in the wee hours of the morning. Seldom do you hear of a politician, more so a representative, riding public transport. (This reminds me of our own Mayor Benjie Magalong who would ride the bus coming up to Baguio on weekends when he was still working in Metro Manila).
During the frustrating and hard times of the Covid-19 pandemic, Leni never forgot the people of the Cordillera. She sent personal protective equipment and medicines to the different hospitals and organizations doing medical and humanitarian work in the region. Only a few politicians remember our region during hard times because we do not have the numbers in terms of voting population. But the vice president did not forget us.
My alma mater, the University of Baguio, is all out for Leni’s presidential bid. As stated by UB President Javier Herminio D. Bautista, “As educators, we strive to provide education to the most vulnerable of society. We see this care for the underprivileged from Leni and Kiko, as proven by their track record of documented work and private deeds.”
The vice president celebrated her birthday yesterday, April 23. My boss, Atty. Pablito V. Sanidad, also celebrates his birthday tomorrow, April 25. To VP Leni and Vice Mayor Pablito, happy birthday.
Kiko – Another lawyer that we need to support is Sen. Francis Pancratius “Kiko” N. Pangilinan who is now running for vice president alongside VP Leni. Sen. Kiko is married to singer-actress Sharon Cuneta. He served as senator from 2001 to 2013. He was Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization from 2014 to 2015. In 2016, he was again elected as senator.
Kiko is a known supporter of the agriculture and fisheries sector. Just recently, his hands were raised by the farmers from Barangay San Simon in Pampanga.
Kiko is the principal author of the Sagip Saka Act which was signed into law three years ago. The law mandates that government agencies directly buy products from farmers and fisherfolk, thus removing middlemen that raise and control the prices of these products.
Kiko is also himself a farmer. He and wife Sharon are the owners of the Sweet Spring Country Farm, an all-organic farm in Alfonso, Cavite.
Chel – Atty. Jose Manuel “Chel” Diokno is the son of the late senator and nationalist Jose “Ka Pepe” W. Diokno. Sen. Diokno is the founder of the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG), an organization which I am proud to say I have been a part of for more than 20 years now.
Like his father, Atty. Chel is also a human rights lawyer and defender of the oppressed and vulnerable sectors of society. He is popular among the youth of today. According to my “anak,” Bianca, Atty. Chel has a TikTok account where he gives advice and opinions on relevant issues of the day. At a very young age, Bianca learned the basics of human rights and social justice from Atty. Chel.
Atty. Chel would definitely increase the quality of our leaders in the Senate if we vote for him in the coming elections. His knowledge of the law is beyond question. Atty. Chel is the founding dean of the De La Salle University College of Law (now the Tañada-Diokno College of Law – in honor of these two human rights icons and stalwarts of the legal profession). Atty. Chel is presently the national chairman of FLAG.
Teddy – I first met Teodoro “Teddy” Brawner Baguilat Jr. in a secondary schools press conference in Ifugao more than 30 years ago. We were both speakers in that event. I think I talked on news and sports writing and photojournalism while Teddy discussed feature writing and editorial writing. We were both young journalists at that time.
Why Teddy? Foremost, Teddy is the only full-blooded Cordilleran running for senator in the 2022 national elections. To those who keep on harping that the Cordillera is always being neglected by our national leaders, here is your chance to vote for a Cordilleran as senator.
Teddy is not new to politics. He was elected as representative of Ifugao from 2010 to 2019. From 1995 to 2001, Teddy was mayor of Kiangan, Ifugao. In 1996, Teddy was awarded the Dangal ng Bayan Award as one of the 10 Most Outstanding Civil Servants of the country. He was elected governor of Ifugao from 2001 to 2004 and in 2007.
A good leader has the best intention – the common good – at heart, a better leader acts purposefully with this intention, a great leader bravely and consistently strives, serves, and lives this intention.
On May 9, let us all go out and vote for Leni, Kiko, Chel, and Teddy. With these four people in government, we could expect a “Gobyernong tapat. Angat buhay lahat.”