“The book is about the transformative and dynamic leadership of the holder of the second-highest elective position in the land.”
When the history of the Philippines is finally written, long after we have awakened from the nightmare when a pandemic crippled the economy, shut down factories and offices, closed schools and sports venues, and changed life overnight, there will be a footnote that would say: “Sayang—if only we had more servant leaders who responded to the situation then that would made a difference.”
And what a difference she is making! In a style of her own, Vice President Leni Robredo serves our people wisely and humbly from the get-go as soon as she sensed that she could fill in a gap. Together with her team and people who have been working with her in delivering services to the most vulnerable, Robredo has been able to identify the strategic areas of involvement she could focus on.
And so goes the introduction to the book entitled “Servant Leader Leni Robredo,” a coffee table book comprising various write ups and articles from various sources compiled by Ed Garcia, who served as one of the framers of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, a respected university professor and prolific writer.
The compilation traces the political odyssey of Vice President Leni Robredo, showcasing her transformative and dynamic leadership as holder of the second-highest elective position in the land, a leader of the opposition and fiscalizer to the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, especially on his campaign against drugs. How, despite the limitations of her office which could discourage most, she was and is able to achieve a lot for her people, indefatigably toiling without so much as a rest to serve, serve… and continue to serve.
The book comprises three parts. Part One narrates how VP Robredo was catapulted from Congress to the vice presidency, an improbability considering her low approval rating during the presidential campaign of 2016; how, in her gentle but decisive way, she struggled against the lack of support for her endeavors from the administration only to rediscover a brave brand of “Doing Politics.” Without the constraints of working in the cabinet, VP Robredo firmed up her resolve to work for the people. Her decision means that she would work for those “on the fringes of society” by working on the “fringes of government.” In doing so, VP Robredo explored a different path.
Part 2 revolves around Leni Robredo’s engagement with the campaign against illegal drugs. Her acceptance of the President’s dare to lead the government’s flagship program took the President’s men with their guard down. Few expected her to accept the offer, but accept she did. Yet her ways was unorthodox and anathema to the powers-that-be. They could not deal with a principled and strong-willed woman who was willing to push back against the dumbing down of politics.
Part 3, “To toil and not to seek rest,” contains Leni’s online address to the graduates of 2020, and a brief presentation of the milestones of her career.
As postscript, Ed Garcia sees the need for servant leaders in this time. He says: Our lives have been turned upside down by quarantine that has extended throughout much of the globe. In its wake, tectonic shifts have taken place: the world economy in an enforced coma, governance has been forced to rely more and more on science, our streets are deserted and shops have come to a standstill. Indeed many of our perceptions have been put into question.
But perhaps it is in the field of public service where the tectonic shift will be felt in the years to come x x x at the outset of present health crisis, women leaders such as Vice-President Leni Robredo took stock of the situation and chose as a priority concern to marshal citizen’s efforts and resources to provide the needs of health workers. These include the need for personal protective equipment, face masks, food packets, the acquisition of shuttle transport to and from key hospital sites, and the setting up of temporary dormitories for health personnel. With the limited budget of her office and relying on donations from the people, she also focused on the needs of the more vulnerable communities. She provided food and supported those involved in the supply chain of agricultural products from farm to market, like vegetable growers who were part of the Angat Buhay programs.
According to the author, servant leaders like ours have become indispensable. Young people who will decide the future are taking notice and their new found awareness expressed adeptly in social media and talked about in their homes. This will hopefully forge a new direction in the post-pandemic period.
VP Leni is a dyed-in-the-wool servant leader whose legacy will be etched forever in the minds of the millions she is touching by her gentle yet transformative leadership. She has the heart of a servant leader. The country is grateful for that.
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