MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo, through her flagship Angat Buhay program, has built a community of transition shelters in Marawi City partly funded by donations that the Supreme Court had earlier barred for use in her electoral protest fee.
Robredo on Tuesday, July 17, opened the Angat Buhay Village in Barangay Sagonsongan, Marawi City, partly built from the P7.5-million donations raised from her supporters' "Piso Para sa Laban ni Leni" online campaign last year to help her pay the balance of her electoral protest fee.
The Vice President led the turnover of 60 transition shelter units to the Marawi city government. Her office had announced the use of the donations for Marawi shelter in March this year.
The Supreme Court, acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, had earlier junked the plea of the Piso Para sa Laban ni Leni movement that it be allowed to donate money to Robredo to help shoulder her remaining balance in the election case filed against her by former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.
As a public official, the Vice President is barred from accepting gifts and donations.
Robredo said then that the money will instead be used to fund her anti-poverty Angat Buhay program, which links private companies and non-governmental organizations to local government units to provide assistance to families in need.
Photo from OVP
On Tuesday, the Vice President gave the symbolic key of the Angat Buhay Village to Marawi Mayor Majul Usman Gandamra. Others at the event were Housing Assistant Secretary Felix Castro Jr, manager of Task Force Bangon Marawi; Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan president Fr Roberto Yap, SJ; and residents of the new village.
Robredo then spoke to the Angat Buhay Village beneficiaries, who talked about their experiences during the months-long war and their lives in evacuation centers.
“Nagpapasalamat sila na mayroon na silang maayos na tirahan kumpara sa evacuation centers. Pero nakakadurog pa rin ng puso na pakinggan iyong kuwento ng bawat isa – kung paano medyo masagana iyong buhay nila noong hindi pa nagkakaroon ng kaguluhan, tapos kinailangan nilang iwan lahat para lumikas, tapos ngayon mag-uumpisa sila sa umpisa,” said Robredo.
(They are thankful they now have houses that are better than evacuation centers. But it's still heartbreaking to hear their stories – how they used to live in comfort and abundance before the clashes but had to leave that behind, and now they have to start all over again.)
Photo from OVP
Robredo said her office will continue coordinating with the village residents to determine other ways Angat Buhay can help them, including providing livelihood opportunities.
“Mas mabuti sana kung ano iyong kinasanayan, tapos mayroon pa ding market para doon, doon na lang siya tulungan. Kasi parang mahirap na kami iyong magsasabi na, ‘Ito iyong gawin mo,’ pero hindi naman niya iyan alam, o hindi naman iyon iyong kinasanayan niya. Baka mas mahirapan siya. So iyong sa atin, tinitingnan natin ngayon – lalo na iyong mga halos walang makain – ano ba iyong immediate na puwedeng itulong sa kanila?” said Robredo.
(It would be better if the assistance would be similar to what they are used to already. There should also be a market. We can't just tell them, 'This is what you're supposed to do' without knowing what they need. They might encounter difficulties. We're looking at what we can easily provide them – especially for those who have almost nothing to eat.)
Photo from OVP
Apart from the Piso Para sa Laban ni Leni movement donation, the Angat Buhay Village also received assistance from the following:
As of June 30, Angat Buhay and its partners helped around 155,000 Filipino families living in 176 poor communities, with various forms of assistance amounting to P252 million so far. – Rappler.com