Robredo to resign from Duterte Cabinet

Bea Cupin

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Robredo to resign from Duterte Cabinet
(3rd UPDATE) Vice President Leni Robredo says she's stepping down as HUDCC chairperson after being told to 'desist from attending all Cabinet meetings'

MANILA, Philippines (4th UPDATE) – “This is the last straw.”

Vice President Leni Robredo on Sunday, December 4, said she was quitting her post as President Rodrigo Duterte’s housing chief on Monday, December 5.

In a statement released by her office late Sunday, Robredo said her resignation was prompted by Duterte’s order for her “to desist from attending all Cabinet meetings starting this Monday, December 5.”

The order was given through a text message sent by Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr, who in turn was relaying instructions given by Duterte through Special Assistant to the President Bong Go. (READ: How did Duterte break with Robredo? Through text message)

“This is the last straw, because it makes it impossible for me to perform my duties. Hence, I am tendering my resignation from the Cabinet on Monday, December 5, 2016. With this resignation, you can expect that I will continue to support the positive initiatives of this administration and oppose those that are inimical to the people’s interest,” said Robredo.

Prior to this, Robredo said she encountered “obstacles” in her role as Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) chairperson, caused by an apparent lack of support from the executive branch. (READ: Gov’t only averages 200,000 homes per year – Robredo)

“One, the budget for all key shelter agencies in 2017 has been slashed by more than P19 billion. Two, all our key shelter agency appointment recommendations have not been acted on. Three, the Executive Order designed to make HUDCC effective was not signed,” the Vice President said. (READ: Robredo eyes completion of Yolanda housing by 2018)

Robredo ran under the then-ruling Liberal Party (LP) during the May 2016 elections while Duterte was the standard-bearer of the now-ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban). Duterte and many LP personalities have been at odds since the campaign period.

In a speech, Duterte claimed the LP was out to oust him, even if it does not have a majority in either the Senate or the House of Representatives. Robredo, the LP member with the highest elective post, denied these allegations

‘Plot to steal the Vice Presidency’

In her statement, Robredo added that she had long been “warned of a plot to steal the Vice Presidency.”

“I have chosen to ignore this and focus on the job at hand. But the events of recent days indicate that this plot is now being set into motion,” she said.

Although Robredo did not specify who was “plotting to steal” her post, she recounted her differences with Duterte.

“From the very beginning, the President and I had major differences in principles and values. Since I assumed office, I have been consistent in my opposition to issues such as the burial of former President Ferdinand Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani, extrajudicial killings, reinstating death penalty, lowering the age of criminal liability, and sexual attacks against women,” said Robredo.

She added: “But we both had a mandate to serve the people. I had hoped that this shared commitment to the poor and marginalized would transcend the differences between us.” (WATCH & READ: Rappler Talk: Leni Robredo on ‘making dreams happen’)

Apparently, those differences were too much to transcend. Robredo has been among the most vocal in Duterte’s Cabinet in opposing the hero’s burial for Marcos. There have been some sectors who’ve called on anti-Marcos members of Duterte’s Cabinet to step down.

Marcos factor?

Duterte has been open about his personal ties to the Marcoses. While his late mother led the anti-Marcos movement in their hometown of Davao City, his father once served in the Marcos Cabinet. Duterte also previously said that Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos, the eldest among the Marcos siblings, contributed funds to his campaign. The governor downplayed Duterte’s pronouncements as a joke. (READ: Luneta protesters to Duterte: End alliance with Marcos family)

The late dictator’s only son, former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr, lost to Robredo in the vice presidential race by a slim margin. The younger Marcos is contesting her win.

In his recent state visit to China, Duterte “joked” that the country would have a new vice president if Marcos wins his electoral protest.

Last month, the Robredo camp had expressed alarm over rumors that the country would “have a new VP” by early 2017, supposedly through a recount that would be conducted “without the direction of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal.”

The working relationship between Duterte and Robredo has been testy from the get-go. Duterte said he was initially not keen on appointing Robredo to the Cabinet because it might hurt Marcos’ feelings. He later appointed her as his housing czar. (READ: Hello, Leni? How Duterte made the Cabinet offer to VP Robredo)

The Vice President does not have a specific function, based on the Philippine Consitution, but he or she is traditionally given a Cabinet post. (READ: Robredo ‘warmly welcomed’ into Duterte Cabinet)

Recently, Duterte and Robredo’s working relationship made headlines again when the President teased the Vice President about her “short skirt” as they were attending the commemoration of the 3rd anniversary of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). The following day, Robredo said “tasteless remarks and inappropriate advances against women should have no place in our society.” –

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.