First 100 days as president: Robredo to realign budget to strengthen COVID-19 war chest

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 14) — Vice President Leni Robredo said once she secures the presidency, her administration will immediately recast the 2022 national budget to provide enough financial muscle to the COVID response.

Speaking at the Rotary Club of Manila membership meeting, Robredo said she will exhaust all efforts to control the coronavirus pandemic during her first 100 days as the country's top leader.

Addressing health woes will make challenges "less daunting," she added.

"To do this we must realign the national budget so that it will be more akin to addressing the pandemic," Robredo said.

The Duterte administration's 2022 proposed budget is ₱5.024 trillion. The education sector is set to receive the highest initial allocation worth ₱773 billion. The Department of Health, meanwhile, was only allotted around ₱242 billion so far.

READ: Duterte certifies 2022 budget bill as urgent

"We will be coming in with a set budget already, this means realigning the budget, alotting more funds for healthcare services and facilities, COVID-19 response, social services for Filipinos. This also means improving access to hospitals, building more facilities if needed, improving infrastructure to acess vaccines, the logistical support for vaccines," the presidential aspirant said.

"We already have a comprehensive plan for testing, treating, vaccination. We will empower our healthcare system, take better care of our medical frontliners, vaccinate as many people as possible," she added.

Despite the health crisis and reports of corruption hounding the Philippines, Robredo stressed declaring martial law is never the answer to fix the country, good governance is.

"There's no need for a martial law. If there is a need to declare anything, it is really health and education crisis. There is no need for martial law to reign because we have enough laws that we can help us get through these crises if only government was more efficient, if only government was more accountable," she said.

Robredo earlier said she was willing to take the lead in combatting the pandemic, as she reiterated calls to boost testing, tracing, and vaccination efforts.

VP 'very hopeful' about 2022 win

Even with weaker survey figures, Robredo remains optimistic about her presidential bid as she recalled being an underdog in previous elections, but still winning at the end.

"Even if my numbers are still low now, everything is upbeat. The momentum is there. There is absolutely no guarantee that we will make it during the elections, but if we fight smart, if we will be able to put up a really honest campaign, I am very hopeful about it," she said.