Vice President Leni Robredo on Wednesday brushed off the scathing comments from President Rodrigo Duterte that she did nothing for the government’s post-Typhoon Ulysses response, and that she is too weak to become President.
“'Pag sinabi mong wala akong ginagawa, karapatan mong sabihin ‘yan. 'Di ko dedepensahan ang sarili ko kasi alam ng tao na hindi 'yan totoo,” Robredo said in a chance interview in Ragay, Camarines Sur where she is set to turn over aid to typhoon victims there.
Likewise, the Vice President said she is too busy to address the President’s threats that he will make Robredo’s 2022 presidential run a nightmare, and that she is too weak to be President.
“That's very unpresidential. Karapatan naman niya ‘yun [na magsalita]. Matagal na niya 'yang sinasabi. Sinasabi niya na wala akong alam, kung anu-ano. Sa dami ng tinatrabaho natin, ‘yun pa ba ang aasikasuhin natin?” Robredo, a lawyer like Duterte, pointed out.
A visibly irate Duterte on Tuesday night called Robredo "a dishonest person" when she supposedly asked where he was in the aftermath of Typhoon Ulysses.
Robredo on Friday night started calling on units of the military to coordinate rescue efforts in Cagayan when flood started rising due to the waters released by the Magat Dam. She never made any public comment about the whereabouts of the President.
However, Duterte claimed that Robredo started the hashtag #NasaanAngPangulo, which trended on social media during the onslaught of Typhoons Rolly and Ulysses.
Duterte claimed that Robredo gave orders to the military at the height of Ulysses’ onslaught.
Robredo in her tweets connected netizens pleading for rescue to teams on the ground.
“You are presuming that I should be giving orders on the day of the storm. That is stupid… That is why you cannot be president. Mahina ka. You do not give orders on the day of the war, patay ka,” Duterte said.
Duterte then threatened Robredo’s possible bid for the presidency.
“Marami ako sabihin sa'yo. Reserba ko na lang. When you start your campaign, waswasan kita. This is your nightmare,” he warned.
In response, Robredo on Tuesday night branded Duterte a "misogynist" and said she was busy with relief work for the typhoon victims.
“When a President is a misogynist, the conversation goes down to this level. Eto po yung ginagawa namin gabi gabi, nagpupuyat ilang linggo na para, araw-araw, may madala lang na tulong sa mga nangangailangan,” Robredo said in a post on Twitter minutes after Duterte accused her of being dishonest.
Putting AFP to task?
The Vice President also belied Duterte's claims that she was ordering the Armed Forces of the Philippines to rescue flood victims during Typhoon Ulysses' onslaugt.
She said she simply sought the assistance of the Armed Forces, the police and local officials as a matter of an obligation as a human being given that people needed urgent rescuing.
“Iyong sinasabing [inutusan] ko ang military, mali iyon. Lahat ng distressed calls na natatanggap natin, ipinapasa natin to whoever was on the ground, and that includes the Armed Forces, pati pulis, local officials,” Robredo said.
“Obligasyon ko ‘yun, obligasyon ng kahit sinong makakatanggap ng call for help na maghanap ng saklolo. Sa oras ng matinding sakuna, hindi dapat sarado sa nagpapa-abot ng tulong. Dapat tayong magtulungan,” Robredo pointed out.
Malacañang on Wednesday presumed that Duterte had a basis for claiming that Robredo questioned his whereabouts during the onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses.
“As far as the President’s statements are concerned, I think the President would not have been as irritated as he was, if he did not have personal knowledge that the Vice President was asking for his whereabouts, either publicly or privately,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said.
At the same time, Roque slammed Robredo’s actions in the aftermath of Typhoon Ulysses, claiming she made it appear that she was in charge of relief efforts.
“It was completely out of order that she misinformed the people, the nation, as if she was the one in charge of relief efforts. She was not,” Roque said in an interview with CNN-Philippines.
“And the President said under the constitutional scheme, the Vice President is a spare tire. When Ulysses struck, he was in charge,” he added.
Senators Leila de Lima and Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan on Wednesday rallied behind Robredo.
"Mr. Duterte’s latest meltdown does not deserve any retort or serious attention. VP Leni has better things to do than to compete with executive deadweight. Lead, follow, or get out of the way. Duterte should get out of the way," De Lima said.
"Ang mahalaga kay VP Leni ay kung paano makatulong sa mga kababayan natin mula Cagayan hanggang Bicol na tinamaan ng bagyo. Tulong sa kapwa, hindi mga gawa-gawang kuwento at hindi away, ang dapat tuununan ng pansin ng lahat," he said.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III refused to comment about the issue, saying he would “rather not jump into their fray.”
Former senator Antonio Trillanes IV also came to Robredo's defense, saying on Twitter: "Back off, you lazy, incompetent fool! VP Leni did her duty and more. In fact, she was THE FACE OF GOVERNMENT during the typhoon." —LBG/KG/RSJ, GMA News