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Duterte blasts Robredo, taunts her to 'spray PH with pesticide'

President Rodrigo Duterte lashed out at Vice President Leni Robredo on Monday, September 21, for criticizing his administration's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Duterte started and ended his recorded address by blasting critics, including Robredo, for saying the government has not done enough to address the coronavirus. 

"Huwag kayong maniwala diyan sus mga itong Dilawan. Lalo na – I hate to mention her name, but itong si Leni kung ano man hong pinagsasabi. Alam mo, Leni, kung gusto mo, if you really want to do away with COVID, spray-an natin ang Pilipinas o Manila ng pesticide galing sa eroplano para patay lahat," Duterte said. 

(Do not believe them, these Yellows. Especially – I hate to mention her name but this Leni has been saying so many things. You know, Leni, if you really want to do away with COVID, let's spray pesticide over the Philippines or Manila from an airplane so everyone dies.)

The President made these remarks after Robredo called out lapses in the Duterte government's response to the public health crisis. Duterte, however, defended his administration’s response to the pandemic so far, saying the "only" thing people could do "is wear a face mask and that's it, wait for a vaccine."

"COVID-19 equals vaccine. Huwag 'nyo na palakihin ang problema (Don’t make the problem bigger). Do not add something to the pandemic by making such reckless statements that we are not doing enough," Duterte said. 

Robredo earned Duterte's ire in August, when she said Filipinos were losing "confidence" in the administration because there seems to be no one at the helm of the government's coronavirus response efforts.

The President then accused Robredo of fueling the anger of citizens against his administration.

Robredo later said she and all other Filipinos had the right to call out the lapses of the Duterte government and make suggestions to address them. 

"May karapatan akong mag-criticize if I need to criticize kasi ‘yun ‘yung demands ng pagiging Pilipino ko. Ang demand sa akin as a Filipino ay maging bahagi... ako sa nation-building," Robredo said.

(I have the right to criticize if I need to criticize because that’s what being a Filipino demands. My being Filipino demands that I become part of nation-building.)

As the Philippines grapples with the pandemic, Robredo has earned praise for running COVID-19 programs despite her office's measly budget. Robredo has also delivered concise remarks that offer concrete solutions to the pandemic, often contrasted with Duterte's winding speeches. – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs, the overseas Filipino workers, and elections. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.

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