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De Lima says Duterte's 'malevolent' plan is: Robredo out, Bongbong in

Senator Leila de Lima on Sunday warned that President Rodrigo Duterte has a "malevolent" plan to have Vice President Leni Robredo removed from her post and former Senator Bongbong Marcos succeed him if he steps down before his term ends.

De Lima said Duterte is bringing down the public image of Robredo to make it easier for the public to accept Marcos' victory at the Presidential Electoral Tribunal.

“Duterte has several ideas how he will be replaced in case he decides to step down before his term ends. He has expressed his preference for Bongbong Marcos, Chiz Escudero, a military junta [but] none of them include the constitutional mode of succession, which is the only legal way of replacing him,” she said in a statement issued from her detention cell in Camp Crame.

“With the federal charter change campaign dead on the water, and a military junta having no avid takers from the AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines], this means that the only viable option remaining is to make sure that Marcos is in position to succeed as VP when Duterte decides to step down,” De Lima said.

The senator said with old justices retiring, appointees of Duterte are now being ushered into the Supreme Court.

“As the math of coopted SC votes improves to favor a Marcos fake victory, so will the Marcos-Robredo PET case unravel to its malevolent conclusion,” De Lima said.

“After the Supreme Court has demonstrated its capability to perform the unconstitutional ouster of its own Chief Justice, it can no longer be relied upon to stand as the guardian of the Constitution and the rule of law,” she added.

De Lima then asked the public to remain vigilant and resist Duterte's plan.

“Now, more than ever, citizens must rely on their own organic power to thwart any attempt to undermine constitutional democracy and to foist Duterte’s illegitimate choice of successor upon the Filipino people,” she said.

Asked for comment, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque on Sunday deemed De Lima's allegation as "prison hallucination."

"Prison hallucination. Fate of VP hangs with SC (Supreme Court) and not the President," Roque told reporters.

Duterte has earlier questioned the competence of Robredo, saying she does not possess the capability to succeed him in office.

He also said the Philippines would be better off with a dictator like Ferdinand Marcos.

Roque has said that was just the President's "personal assessment" of Robredo, and it will not affect the proceedings at the SC, sitting as the PET, which is conducting a recount of votes in the 2016 vice presidential race involving Robredo and Marcos.

Robredo, however, branded as recycled rants Duterte's allegations, and urged him to focus instead on solving the country's problems rather than on devoting his attention to her. —With a report from Anna Felicia Bajo/KG, GMA News