The spokesperson of presumptive President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has said that the Marcos camp sees nothing wrong with Vice President Leni Robredo setting up her own non-government organization (NGO) once she steps down from office.
Robredo announced that she is setting up her office’s Angat Buhay (Uplift Lives) program as an NGO that will be called the Angat Buhay Foundation during the Thanksgiving rally she held for her supporters at Ateneo de Manila University on Friday, a farewell event for her predominantly grassroots-powered and volunteer-led presidential campaign held in the wake of Marcos Jr.’s apparent victory in the polls.
Robredo announced at the event that she would seek to turn the foundation into “the largest volunteer network” across the country and invited her campaign volunteers — 2 million of them, according to her spokesperson Barry Gutierrez — as well as members of the private sector to take part.
Yet within hours of Robredo’s announcement, posts online circulated that the incumbent VP was planning to establish up “her own government” that would combat the Marcos administration, with some even going so far as to claim that NGO stands for “New Government Organization.”
Contrary to what those trolls were saying, the Angat Buhay Foundation would be far from the first NGO in the country — there are about 600,000 civil society groups in the Philippines, which include some 3,000 to 5,000 development-oriented NGOs according to the Asian Development Bank. A non-government organization simply refers to an organization, usually not-for-profit and humanitarian in nature, founded outside of the government.
In an interview with DZMM Teleradyo, Vic Rodriguez, spokesperson for Marcos Jr., said that as long as Robredo exercises her rights within the bounds of the Constitutions and the country’s laws, there should be no problem with setting up her own organization.
“[Setting up an NGO] is fine. Every individual has the right to organize and act on their goals,” Rodriguez said.
“For us, freedom comes with responsibility. For as long as you are exercising your rights within the bounds of the law, I think that will be respected by any democratic government and leadership just like incoming president Bongbong [Marcos],” he added.
Running mainly on donations and volunteer support, the Angat Buhay program under the Office of the Vice President has provided underprivileged communities with assistance and support in areas such as food security and nutrition, universal healthcare, public education, rural development, housing and resettlement, and women empowerment.
The Angat Buhay Foundation will be launched in July, after Robredo steps down from office on June 30.