Leni Robredo visited the Jackson School on October 24, 2023.
On October 24, the Jackson School of Global Affairs hosted a conversation with Leni Robredo, the former vice president of the Philippines who served from 2016-2022.
The talk was moderated by Jackson Senior Fellow Harry K. Thomas, Jr., a retired U.S. ambassador whose three-decade career in the Foreign Service included service in the Philippines.
Robredo addressed a number of hot topics from her time in office, including the ongoing dispute over the South China Sea, the spread of disinformation in social media, the impact of climate change, and funding for public education.
While studies show that the Philippines is one of the most at-risk countries for climate change-related disasters, “we’re not giving it the urgency it requires” as a national security issue, Robredo said.
During her government service, Robredo reinvented the vice president’s office into an advocacy-centered organization through a flagship poverty alleviation program that thrived on private-public partnerships.
“I didn’t want to be relegated to ceremonial work,” said Robredo, who worked as a human rights lawyer before going into politics. In the Philippines, the president and the vice president are elected separately; typically, the relationship between the two is civil. “In our case it wasn’t,” she quipped, referring to former President Rodrigo Duterte.
“Because we did not have funds [for the program], our only currency was trust,” she said.
That work has continued through her foundation, Angat Pinas, Inc., which strives to empower volunteers across the country in the collective mission to uplift Filipino lives.
Robredo also fielded attendees’ questions on the war on drugs, human rights, and advice on career paths for those in the Filipino diaspora who want to give back.
The event was part of the school’s Sunrise Foundation Lecture Series, which addresses policy issues especially pertinent to emerging economies.