After Duterte tirade, Leni lets Jesse speak up for her: ‘The truth will prevail’

Mara Cepeda
After Duterte tirade, Leni lets Jesse speak up for her: ‘The truth will prevail’
Vice President Leni Robredo shares an old video interview of her late husband Jesse Robredo as a reply to President Rodrigo Duterte's latest insult against her

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo refuses to play the political game of President Rodrigo Duterte, who once again belittled her capability to rule the country if he steps down from office. 

But on Wednesday, August 15, the Vice President responded to Duterte through her late husband, former Department of Interior and Local Government chief Jesse Robredo. 

Leni posted on her Facebook account a two-minute excerpt of an old GMA 7 interview with Jesse.

In her caption, the Vice President said she received “so many messages” asking her to defend herself after Duterte questioned her competence as a leader for the second time.  

He said he is ready to step down if the military and police finds his successor, but the President later said he would prefer if the likes of losing vice presidential bets Senator Francis Escudero and ex-senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr would be his successor.

Marcos filed an electoral protest against Leni, who has embraced the call to be leader of the opposition. (READ: Don’t call Leni Robredo the opposition Messiah


What does Jesse’s video say? Leni wrote in her caption: “Since we’re commemorating his (Jesse) 6th death anniversary on Saturday, will let him do the talking. Ganyan din naman sagot ko (My answer would be the same anyway).”

In the video, Jesse was first explaining how he, his wife, and their 3 daughters would have preferred a simple life outside politics.  

But Jesse said Leni understood serving in government would give “meaning to [his] existence,” despite the consequences of the job.

Maayos naman hangarin mo. Nais mong magtrabaho nang maayos. Gusto mo pang pagsipagan ito. Bakit nagkaganito pa?” asked Jesse. 

(You have good intentions. You want to do your job right. You want to work hard on this. But why is this happening?)

He then said he could not make himself play the game that politicians tend to play, especially in building their public image just so the people would like them.  

“I will not pay anyone just to build up my name, build up my image… I will not do that because you know, in doing that, I don’t believe in myself anymore,” said Jesse. 

So sa akin, ‘yong larong ‘yan, ‘di talaga ako puwede. Kung ganyan ‘yong laro sa Maynila, maling player ako. O mali ‘yong larong nasalihan ko,” said Jesse. 

(So that game is not for me. If that’s the game in Manila, I’m the wrong player. Or maybe I joined the wrong game.) 

How would the Robredos respond? The video ended with the former interior secretary saying he still believes the truth will prevail in the end.

It is a line Leni herself usually uses in her speeches and interviews. (READ: Robredo to youth: Don’t lose hope, good will triumph over evil)

Ang dulo ng lahat ng bagay, ‘yong totoo ‘yong mananaig. Number two, ang dulo ng lahat, ‘yong matino ‘yong nananalo,” said Jesse.

(In the end, the truth will prevail. Number two, in the end, the good will still win.)

“So I think in time, all of these will pass and people will realize what the truth is and hopefully by that time, nandiyan pa rin ako (I’d still be there) and people will look at things differently,” he added.

Jesse’s tragic death in a plane crash in 2012 eventually forced his wife Leni into the national political spotlight.

Unlike his boss, Leni’s spokesperson Barry Gutierrez made a feisty comeback against Duterte, tweeting the President that he forgot to include his running mate and Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano in his list of preferred successors. – 

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at or tweet @maracepeda.