MANILA, Philippines — From Bayanihanapbuhay to Bahayanihan, the office of Vice President Leni Robredo, together with partners from the private sector, last year extended assistance to millions of Filipinos severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and natural disasters.
The Office of the Vice President (OVP) spent more than P23.8 million for relief operations for victims of the Taal Volcano eruption in January 2020 and a string of strong typhoons that hit the country in the last quarter of the year.
Robredo’s office and her partner organizations also stepped up their efforts to cushion the impact of the months-long community quarantine or lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
When President Duterte placed Luzon under enhanced community quarantine or ECQ in March, the OVP provided free shuttle service and dormitories for frontliners, particularly health workers in Metro Manila.
The OVP has also partnered with private organizations in putting up temporary shelters, dubbed “The Oasis Project,” for medical workers at the Lung Center of the Philippines, Quirino Memorial Medical Center and National Kidney and Transplant Institute, all in Quezon City.
“I am honored and proud to have spent 2020 in service with our staff. From our relief efforts for the Mindanao quakes and the Taal Volcano eruption and the string of strong typhoons, to our COVID-19 response operations, many members of our staff stepped up, offering to help outside their usual tasks, which was really key to making our initiatives work,” Robredo said in an e-mail interview with The STAR.
“A lot of them are young public servants, our dear millennials, and I saw how well they responded to the rigors of the pandemic and consecutive relief efforts,” the Vice President said.
The OVP disbursed over P306 million of its resources last year for its COVID-19-related programs.
The office allocated an initial P5.9 million for personal protective equipment (PPE) for the medical workers in Metro Manila.
The OVP has provided 333,675 PPE sets to more than a thousand health institutions nationwide.
Its partners from the private sector, including the Kaya Natin Movement, were also able to raise P61.9 million for the frontliners.
Apart from helping the frontliners, the OVP also assisted millions of Filipino workers who were displaced by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In May, the OVP launched its Community Mart, an app-based market aimed at providing livelihood to vendors and tricycle drivers.
In cooperation with Sikap.PH, the OVP also introduced its Bayanihanapbuhay project, a free job posting platform, which seeks to help millions of Filipino workers displaced by the pandemic.
The OVP likewise partnered with iskaparate.com for its Bayanihan Mart initiative to give community-based entrepreneurs online presence to help increase their market.
The agency also worked with the Philippine Business for Education and the United States Agency for International Development for its project TrabaHOPE to provide training programs for the out-of-school youth.
To address concerns about distance learning, the OVP launched the BAYANIHAN e-SKWELA, in cooperation with the Kaya Natin Movement. They called for gadget donation for poor students.
The OVP also produced instructional videos for teachers, parents and students with the help of education experts from the University of the Philippines.
Apart from providing relief assistance to thousands of residents affected by the typhoons, the OVP embarked on a rehabilitation project dubbed Bahayanihan.
In December, Robredo inaugurated the project in Guinobatan, Albay, one of the areas hardest-hit by Super Typhoon Rolly.
“COVID-19 has emphasized for us how the actions and disposition of one affects others, and that inspiring leadership is essential in times of crisis. Inspire others by showing them that you are not just at the forefront of doing the work, but that you do not mind getting your hands dirty yourself,” Robredo said.
“Beyond our office, inspiration has also been necessary to share. Inspire others by reminding them that we are all in this together,” she said.
“During the course of our COVID-19 response efforts, we have been everyday witnesses to the generosity and ingenuity of our people: From organizations and individuals who pitched in for the needs of our frontliners, to volunteers who spent time with us in manning our shuttles and dorms, to groups who offered their services, innovations and expertise so they could contribute to our efforts,” Robredo said.