Criticizing doesn't mean seeking presidency, says Robredo
MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo again emphasized that her opposition to several administration policies does not mean she is out to replace President Rodrigo Duterte.
"Wala po tayong ganoon na pangarap. Ang gusto lamang natin ay mapakinggan ang ating mga boses. Ang gusto lang natin ay pakinggan ang ating mga hinaing para may pagbabagong magawa," Robredo said on Thursday, March 23, in a meeting with supporters who visited her office in New Manila, Quezon City.
(We don't have that kind of dream. What we just want is for our voice to be heard. What we want is for our pleas to be heard so there can be genuine change.)
Her remarks came after Duterte claimed last Sunday, March 19, that Robredo is in a hurry to become president. Duterte also said on Thursday, however, that his allies should not try to have Robredo impeached, since the Vice President is merely exercising freedom of speech.
Duterte's ally Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez is thinking of filing an impeachment complaint against Robredo, saying she betrayed public trust by criticizing the bloody drug war in a video shown at an event in Vienna, Austria.
Even after Duterte's remarks rejecting the planned impeachment bid against Robredo, Alvarez also said on Thursday that the Vice President is "shameless" and that the House of Representatives is mandated to act on any complaint.
Robredo is also facing criticism for stating in the video that there is an alleged "palit-ulo" scheme in the police's anti-drug operations, where cops supposedly nab family members if a drug suspect is nowhere to be found.
Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa has since denied the existence of such a scheme, adding that "palit-ulo" means cops convince suspects to give information on their drug suppliers in exchange for a lighter case.
But Robredo maintained her remarks were based on the experiences relayed to her by poor families of victims of extrajudicial killings.
"Maraming mga kasinungalingan iyong, iyong bumabalot sa atin at maraming naniniwala sa kasinungalingan. Pero po tayo na dumaan sa matinding paghihirap alam natin kung ano 'yung totoo," she said.
(There are a lot of lies spreading and many believe the lies. But us who went through hardship know the truth.)
"Tayo na personal na alam kung ano ang katotohanan sa likod ng mga kuwento, alam natin ang totoo. Siguro kailangan lang ng tamang panahon para malaman din nila kung ano ang totoo," she added.
(Us who know personally the truth behind the stories, we know what's true. Maybe there would be a right time for others to know what is true.)
Urban poor support
Several members of urban poor and sectoral organizations expressed support for Robredo during their Thursday meeting.
These groups include Ugnayan Lakas ng mga Apektadong Pamilya sa Tabing Ilog Confederation (ULAP), Koalisyon ng mga Organisadong Samahan sa Maynila (KOSMA), Social Democratic Caucus, Akbayan, Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahang Magsasaka (Pakisama), PPVR, CO-Multiversity, Change Politics Movement (CPM), and PILIPINA.
In their statement of support, urban poor leaders said the impeachment threat against Robredo is nothing but a political move.
"Kilala namin si VP Leni Robredo na isang matuwid, maprinsipyo, at makatarungan para sa tulad naming mahihirap, at naniniwala po kami na siya ay isang tapat na lider ng bansa," wrote the statement signed by Jose Morales of ULAP and Bernadeth Sabalza of KOSMA.
(We know VP Leni Robredo to be upright, principled, and just for the poor like us, and we believe she is an honest leader of our country.)
CPM also backed Robredo's explanation that her video message only contained facts.
"The disrespect for human rights and the rule of law and the loss of innocent lives as 'collateral damage' or as cases of mistaken identity continue with little apparent effort on the part of government to stop them or bring justice to the victims. It is this deplorable state that damages our image and brings shame to our country – not the video message of Vice President Leni Robredo," said CPM in a statement.
Elizabeth Yang of women's group PILIPINA, meanwhile, urged legislators to "respect the spirit of the Constitution." (READ: Impeachment a numbers game? Robredo to rely on lawmakers' principles)
"PILIPINA appeals to our public officials, especially our lawmakers, to judiciously exercise their power to legislate, to discern right from wrong, and to respect the spirit of the Constitution, instead of blindly following the dictates of their political parties and alliances," said Yang.
Two Marcos loyalists have already drafted an impeachment complaint against Robredo over her video. Lawyer Oliver Lozano and broadcaster Melchor Chavez are asking for the endorsement of Alvarez, who has not yet read the complaint.
Pro-Duterte lawyers and bloggers calling themselves the "Impeach VP Leni Team" are also drafting another impeachment complaint against Robredo. This complaint is expected to be filed when Congress resumes session in May. – Rappler.com