Duterte jokes he'll appoint any 'outstanding' gov't official to replace Robredo

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte cracked a joke about replacing Vice President Leni Robredo on the same day the Supreme Court (SC) announced the completion of a report on the result of the pilot recount in the vice presidential poll protest.

Duterte, speaking on Tuesday, September 10, to government personnel who had been awarded for outstanding public service, said he would pick any of them to replace Robredo as vice president.

"If she (Civil Service Commission official) can vouch [for] your integrity and talent, I'd gladly – kung gusto 'nyo, i-appoint ko kayong lahat ng vice president (if you want, I'll appoint you all as vice president)," he said.

But the President has no power to "appoint" the vice president. The vice president is elected by Filipinos.

Duterte slammed Robredo for supposedly barking up the wrong tree when she criticized his remarks allowing police to receive gifts. The President claimed Robredo did not read "books" about the anti-graft law that states government personnel may accept gifts if they are insignificant in value.

This, he said, makes her unfit to be president.

"Ay ma'am, kung ikaw presidente ng Pilipinas, patay (Ma'am, it will be bad if you are the president of the Philippines). You do not even read the book," he said.

While Malacañang eventually clarified Duterte's controversial remarks on accepting gifts, saying he meant gifts of insignificant value, Duterte did not make a distinction when he first mentioned it.

His remarks made on August 9 in front of cops were: "It cannot be bribery because it is allowed by law. What I mean, if there is generosity in them, sabi ng anti-graft [law] (the anti-graft law says) you cannot accept gifts? Kalokohan (Foolishness)."

Duterte took a swipe at Robredo a few hours after the SC announced that Associate Justice Benjamin Caguioa had submitted his report on the pilot recount of ballots for the electoral protest filed by Ferdinand Marcos Jr against Robredo.

Marcos is challenging Robredo's 2016 victory. If the SC, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), rules in his favor, he would take Robredo's post as vice president.

Caguioa's submission means the PET has already finished recounting the ballots of the 3 pilot provinces chosen by Marcos, which cover 5,415 election precincts in Iloilo, Negros Occidental, and Camarines Sur. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.