Vice-president Leni Robredo today urged broadcasters to help uplift people’s lives. Robredo made the appeal during the opening of the 42nd Top Level Management Conference of the Kapisanan ng mga Broadcaster ng Pilipinas (KBP), the National association of Filipino broadcasters.  Read the vice-president’s speech here.

A New Voice For Broadcast Media

Keynote Speech at the 42nd Top Level Management Conference (TLMC) of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP), Taal Vista Hotel, Tagaytay 

Since I began serving as Vice President, my team and I have held office in the most unusual of places. There are times you would find us trekking on steep hillside terrain, traversing muddied paths for hours, just to reach the most unheard of barangays in the countryside. Ours is the most unusual of office set-ups. We’ve had boats as chairs, the sky as timekeeper, and constituents as direct bosses.

Perhaps, many of you here would think how exciting these visits would turn out to be. Sinasabi nga ng iba, “Aba, namamasyal na naman si VP. Photo-ops ang lahat.”

But this is the reality we face: poverty has long mired many of our countrymen in deep pain and hopelessness. Our weekly visits have shown us that public service is not all glamour and glitter. To genuinely understand what works best, you must be willing to get your hands dirty and expect the worst.

And this we have seen, felt, heard and touched, close at hand, in many of our provincial trips. Our countrymen do not have toilets and potable water. They have to rush to the next barangay, sometimes to the next town, to find a doctor for an ailing child. Some of us worry when schools for our children have no air conditioning?

Out there, they have no walls, no roofs, no chairs. Ito po ang uwi at dala-dala kong mga kuwento mula sa mga nasa laylayan ng lipunan.

Poverty is neither entertaining nor romantic. It is harsh. It evokes anger and frustration. It is not an easy thing to address. But this work is not impossible to move forward, especially if we are working well with sectors like yours.

For many years now, broadcast media has proven to be one of the most effective means of reaching out to the farthest corners of the country. By turning on a television or radio, millions of Filipinos are provided with an instant platform – where news is shared, opinions are heard, and fresh ideas are constantly explored.

Radio and television are still the most powerful media in the far-flung areas that we visited. In most cases, it is their only window to what is happening around the country. But despite the information and entertainment these devices bring, one question still lingers: Have we done enough to help uplift those who have less in life? If we have, why is there isolation and exclusion despite growing connectivity?

As broadcasting shifts into a multi-platform that engages the public through the Internet, mobile and social media – may we remember the crucial role it plays not just in sustaining a vibrant democracy but also in promoting development in the fringes of society.

Media, as the fourth estate in Asia’s oldest democracy, holds a revered place in our political economy. It thrives in its independence, seen as a crucial sign that democracy is strong in our country.

But it can do more than just relay independent information. I would like to see it contribute more in pushing for better laws and policies that promote inclusive growth. I would love to see it become an effective vehicle in shaping political opinion and raising public awareness about long-standing issues that need to be prioritized by the government.

As you revisit the critical role that broadcast media plays in shaping trends, behavior, and worldviews, let’s not forget the urgency of uplifting the lives of ordinary Filipinos.

You are in a powerful position to give them access to the most useful and critical information. Responsible information dissemination and effective communication will enhance and deepen the people’s capacity to participate in governance.

Maybe its time we change our perspective. For the longest time, issues that beset our poor have always been presented as insurmountable tasks that solely belong to the government.

This should not always be the case. This is precisely the kind of mentality that we are trying to change at the Office of the Vice President. Pag nagtutulungan tayo, ang imposible ay nagiging posible.

We, at the OVP, understand that by encouraging renewed confidence on the prospects and potential of collaborative action, we will finally succeed in reducing the number of poor families in our country.

It is time to stop looking at poverty as a problem but instead, see it as an opportunity to be critical of long-standing processes and introduce lasting solutions.

But where to begin? Our office started taking weekly trips to the farthest and the poorest barangays right after the inauguration. Those trips have not only been eye-opening, but also life-changing for each and every one of us.

I urge you to go out of your air-conditioned boardrooms, fold your pants and sleeves, and immerse in the lives of our countrymen.

Let us listen where the voices of dismay and disappointment are coming from. They are critical in understanding what need to be done. Amplify the voice of the weak and powerless. Empower them by echoing their sentiments. Join them in engaging their local government officials.

Keep in mind that media has the power to influence attitudes, opinions, and behaviors. It shapes culture and inspires new movements. Instead of creating more doubt in our institutions, let us use television and radio as a vehicle to demand for good governance, transparency, and greater accountability.

Instead of inducing people to anger and sowing dissatisfaction, let us use resources to cultivate effective dialogue and constructive criticism. Instead of harboring hateful and foul language, let us call for measures that uphold due process in prosecuting corruption charges and other crimes.

Keep in mind that democracy should not just be a buzzword, another pitch, or part of another day’s headline.

Genuine democracy can only be achieved if everyone is given the equal opportunity to achieve his dreams, regardless of class, gender, or ethnicity.

Being watchdogs that closely monitor the activities of the state, let us challenge each other to carve out better paths to bring us together as one nation.

Now is the time to give broadcast media a new voice. Let us be responsive, and not divisive. Uphold ethics, especially in the young ones.

The very nature of media is changing, as netizens find Facebook, blogs, and websites to be effective alternative source of news, instead of newspapers and other traditional media.

And yet, its purpose remains the same. Information is meant to uplift lives, more than anything else.

Being a champion of democracy in this age means constantly engaging one’s self in free, open, and transformative discourse.

This is the only way to fully embrace the kind of change we dream of.

From the playing of the National Anthem at daybreak until the late airing of public service programs during the wee hours, broadcast media is indeed teeming with opportunities to constantly bridge the state with its citizens.

May you then continue to encourage Filipinos to play an active role in dreaming of a better Philippines.

Maraming salamat at mabuhay po ang KBP!