Duterte: Robredo will stay VP until end of her term

Pia Ranada
Duterte: Robredo will stay VP until end of her term
'Wala kaming away ni Leni ngayon,' says President Rodrigo Duterte when asked about their irreconcilable differences

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday, December 8, denied he wants Vice President Leni Robredo out of office and assured her and her fellow Bicolanos that she would serve her full term.

“I will assure Leni and the rest of the Bicol region that you will have her until the very end of her term,” Duterte said in an ambush interview at the groundbreaking of the Bicol International Airport in Daraga, Albay, eliciting applause from some locals who heard his response.

Bicol is Robredo’s home region. 

Duterte was asked whether there was any basis for Robredo’s fear that the vice presidency would be “stolen” from her.  Amid claims that he prefers former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr as vice president, Duterte said he does not intend to remove Robredo from her post.

“There is no such thing as removing a vice president,” he added.

In the same breath, he reiterated his position against declaring Martial Law in order to gain more control over government.

“Sabi, ‘Martial Law, Martial Law.’ Kayo lang nagsasabi ng ‘Martial Law’ diyan (They say, ‘Martial Law, Martial Law.’ You’re the only ones saying ‘Martial Law’). There is no need for me to declare martial law,” he said.

The previous night, Duterte aired his suspicion that the Liberal Party – Robredo’s political party –  was out to oust him.

No fight with Leni

Asked for his “irreconcilable differences” with Robredo that prompted him to bar her from attending Cabinet meetings, Duterte cited Robredo’s support for maintaining strong bilateral ties with the United States to preserve the flow of official development assistance.

In October, the Vice President stressed the importance of the country’s good foreign relations and standing in the international community, especially as the Philippines benefits from anti-poverty programs funded by international groups. (READ: Robredo on Duterte’s rants: What we say may be taken as policy, be careful)

Wala kaming away ni Leni ngayon (Leni and I aren’t fighting) but you know she has always been consistent about the US interests na gusto niya magbalik kasi (she wants it back because) you will lose the aid, and the protestations of State Department and Obama,” said Duterte.

After receiving Duterte’s order not to attend Cabinet meetings, Robredo tendered her resignation from his Cabinet, where she served as the public housing chief.

The Vice President then said she felt she was being eased out of Duterte’s official family and that some Cabinet members preferred the younger Marcos to her.

Robredo had defeated Marcos in the elections by a slim margin. Marcos continues to contest her victory.

Duterte has admitted a close friendship with the Marcos family, even thanking them for their support in the previous elections. He said the Marcoses secured victory for him in Ilocos Norte.

Despite the rift between them, Robredo has said she still plans to reach out to Duterte. – Rappler.com 

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.