MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Vice President Leni Robredo and Senator Francis Pangilinan, leaders of the opposition Liberal Party (LP), denied President Rodrigo Duterte's claim that the LP is plotting to oust him.
Robredo, who chairs the LP, said on her radio program Sunday, September 9: "Iyong Liberal Party, parating parang whipping boy – parating dinadahilan. Eh 'di ba alam naman nila na halos wala nang natira sa partido? Lahat na lumipat sa kanila eh. Kaya kapag sinabi nilang Liberal Party, sino iyong tinutukoy? Kasi ngayon, iyong Liberal Party mabibilang mo na lang sa kamay mo, 'di ba?"
(The Liberal Party is always made a whipping boy – it is always used as an excuse. But don't they know that almost no one was left in the party? Everyone moved to them. That's why when they talk about the Liberal Party, whom are they referring to? Because now, you can count Liberal Party members on your fingers, right?)
She compared the situation to Duterte recently blaming US President Donald Trump for the state of the Philippines' economy.
"Kapag pinag-usapan iyong Liberal Party – parang ano din ito, parang pagsisisi din kay Trump sa ekonomiya. Lahat na pagkukulang ng pamahalaan, isisisi sa Liberal Party. Tingin natin hindi naman tama iyon," Robredo said.
(Whenever they talk about the Liberal Party, it's like blaming Trump for the state of our economy. All the shortcomings of the government are blamed on the Liberal Party. I don't think that's right.)
Pangilinan, president of the LP, also fired back at Duterte, telling him the government is "destabilizing itself" due to incompetence and corruption.
"The opposition does not have to do anything. On its own, either by its incompetence or corruption, the government is doing a good job of destabilizing itself," Pangilinan said in a statement sent by the LP on Sunday, September 9.
Pangilinan denied Duterte's accusation, calling these "downright false." (READ: Duterte appointees 'destabilizing' gov't – Pangilinan)
According to Pangilinan, all Duterte has to do is listen to his own allies who have called for the resignation of officials from the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the National Food Authority (NFA) over the ongoing rice crisis.
Arroyo ally and House leader Danilo Suarez "went so far as calling for the firing" of officials at the Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Finance, Department of Budget and Management, and the National Economic and Development Authority "for their inability to manage the economy," said Pangilinan.
"For everyone's sake, instead of throwing baseless accusations at LP and the opposition, the government should listen to the cry of the people and focus on rising prices of goods and lack of jobs that would sufficiently provide for the average Filipino family," said Pangilinan.
Duterte is 'being paranoid'
Opposition lawmakers Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano and Akbayan Representative Tom Villarin also denied Duterte's claim, with both legislators saying the President is "being paranoid."
"'Di ko nga alam bakit napapraning siya eh! Ito, walang gan'on, walang gan'on (I don't know why he is being paranoid! There's no such ouster plot)," said Alejano, adding the movement to oust Duterte should come from the people, not the opposition.
"So ibig sabihin ‘pag oposisyon ka, automatic na parang gusto mo siyang tanggalin? Ako, ayoko siyang tanggalin. He's the duly constituted authority, he is the President. Kaya nga sinasabi natin, gawin mo naman nang maayos ang iyong mandato," said Alejano.
(So does that mean that if you are in the opposition that you automatically want to remove him? I don't want to remove him. He is the duly constituted authority, he is the President. That's why we've been telling him to follow his mandate.)
Villarin, meanwhile, said Duterte "should not drag the entire nation into his paranoia" due to the President's alleged "callousness and incompetence" in addressing economic problems.
"Prices of goods are skyrocketing, unemployment is increasing, while the value of peso and business confidence are hitting rock bottom. Instead of rallying the people in mitigating a looming economic crisis, he makes it all about securing and maintaining his presidency. No wonder that less and less Filipinos trust him in performing his duty," said Villarin.
"Now, it appears that the strongman has turned into a weak leader losing control, rambling and scrambling for escape and excuses, instead of finding solutions," he added. – Rappler.com