Robredo welcomes Luna sacking, but surprised Duterte defended her

Mara Cepeda
Robredo welcomes Luna sacking, but surprised Duterte defended her
Vice President Leni Robredo says President Rodrigo Duterte should not be tolerating individuals sowing division within government during the COVID-19 pandemic

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo welcomed the sacking of a government official who wanted to have her probed, but admitted she was also surprised President Rodrigo Duterte came to her defense – a rare move for the country’s top leader. 

This was Robredo’s response when asked in an ANC interview on Sunday, April 5, to respond to Duterte firing Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission commissioner Manuelito Luna for pushing an investigation into efforts of her office to help frontliners against the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I think it was a good move. Sa amin welcome move ‘yon kasi ang panahon ngayon natin, extraordinary. Hindi dapat tino-tolerate ‘yong kahit individual o public official na siya pa ‘yong nag-so-sow ng division within government,” Robredo said.

(I think it was a good move. We welcome that move because we are in extraordinary times. We are not supposed to tolerate any individual or public official who sows division within government.)

The Vice President had earlier brushed off Luna’s call for an investigation against her by posting a GIF of herself flipping her hair. (READ: Cue the hair flip! Frontliner helper Robredo throws shade at PACC critic) 

Still, the Vice President said on Sunday she was surprised Luna was fired by Duterte, who has repeatedly criticized the opposition leader in the past and shut her out from Cabinet meetings, prompting Robredo to resign in 2016. 

“Nagulat in the sense na for a very long time, hindi natin napapakinggan si Presidente na pinagtatanggol tayo. Pero ngayon na pinagtanggol tayo, natuwa tayo. Natuwa dahil tingin ko, kailangan ‘yon sa panahon ngayon. Kailangan sa panahon ngayon na parati ‘yong mensahe magtulong-tulong tayo,” Robredo said. 

(I was surprised in the sense that for a very long time, we haven’t heard the President defending us. But when he did, we were happy. We were happy because I think that’s what we need this time. We need to give the message that we should be working together.) 

Robredo, through her flagship anti-poverty program Angat Buhay, has raised over P40 million so far to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers, COVID-19 extraction kits for the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, food for police and soldiers at checkpoints, and free dormitories for frontliners. 

Robredo also coordinated with fashion designers to help create PPEs as the stock continues to dwindle around the globe. 

The Office of the Vice President organized a free shuttle service to ferry health workers around Metro Manila during the COVID-19 lockdown as well, though this will remain operational only until April 14.  

To date, the Philippines has recorded a total of 3,094 cases of COVID-19. Of this number, 144 have died while 57 patients have already recovered from the disease. –

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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.