Leni Robredo

‘Misogynist, pikon’: Robredo fact-checks Duterte’s lies on typhoon response

Mara Cepeda

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‘Misogynist, pikon’: Robredo fact-checks Duterte’s lies on typhoon response

BUSY VICE PRESIDENT. Vice President Leni Robredo visits the province of Catanduanes on November 3, 2020, as her office continues its relief efforts for areas affected by Super Typhoon Rolly in the Bicol Region.

File photo by OVP

'There is no space for our ego when lives are at stake,' Vice President Leni Robredo tells the visibly irate President

Vice President Leni Robredo quickly debunked President Rodrigo Duterte’s lies about her typhoon recovery efforts, calling him a misogynist and peevish for resorting to crass remarks.

Robredo did not waste time on Tuesday night, November 17, correcting the President’s false claim that the Office of the Vice President (OVP) supposedly has done nothing to assist victims of back-to-back Super Typhoon Rolly (Goni) and Typhoon Ulysses (Vamco). 

“When a President is a misogynist, the conversation goes down to this level. Ito po ‘yung ginagawa namin gabi-gabi, nagpupuyat ilang linggo na para, araw-araw, may madala lang na tulong sa mga nangangailangan,” the Vice President tweeted while Duterte’s weekly televised address was still ongoing. 

(When a President is a misogynist, the conversation goes down to this level. This is what we have been doing every night, losing sleep for several weeks so that we could send help to those in need every day.)

She shared a video of her staff repacking relief goods inside the Quezon City headquarters of the OVP, which has been working overtime to send aid to typhoon victims in affected provinces in Luzon. 

Robredo said anyone is free to visit her office “anytime” to check their relief efforts.

A visibly irked Duterte alleged in his taped address that Robredo had questioned his absence as floods inundated parts of Luzon and left thousands stranded on their rooftops during Typhoon Ulysses.

But the Vice President did not say this. She was not among the Twitter users who made the hashtag #NasaanAngPangulo (Where is the President?) trend during the onslaught of Rolly and Ulysses. 

Later in his speech, the President ended his rant against Robredo by making insinuations about her sex life. 

Ikaw, noong gabi, anong oras ka umuwi? Isang bahay ka lang ba, dalawang bahay? Nagtatanong lang ako. Kay congressman ka. Kaninong bahay ka natagalan?” asked Duterte, who has thrown lewd comments against the Vice President in the past.

(How about you? At night, what time do you go home? Do you go home to just one house, or two? I’m just asking. You’re with congressman. In which house do you stay longer?)

Unfazed, Robredo said whoever peddled the lies to the President made him “pikon” or peevish. 

I just called out Sec [Salvador] Panelo for peddling fake news. I am also calling out whoever peddled the fake news to the President, kaya ganito siya ka pikon (that’s why he’s being peevish). I never said ‘Where is the President’?  You can review all my tweets,” the Vice President tweeted.

Robredo has been widely praised in the past days for the OVP’s quick disaster response despite its measly budget. The hashtag #LetLeniLead trended over the weekend.

This is in stark contrast to the backlash faced by the Duterte government, whom critics accused of being caught flat-footed by Typhoon Ulysses.

Before Duterte’s late-night meltdown about her, Robredo was in Polillo Island for most of Tuesday to check on the conditions of typhoon victims there.

On Wednesday, November 18, the Vice President is set to return to her hometown Naga City in Camarines Sur, which endured devastation from both Rolly and Ulysses.

‘No space’ for Duterte’s ego

Duterte also falsely claimed in his speech that Robredo didn’t do anything to help typhoon victims, and that she supposedly issued orders to the military during the rescue operations.

Again, these are lies.

The Vice President did not give orders to the military during the onslaught of Ulysses. She merely relayed information and coordinated with them for requests for rescue that were sent to her office.

For a time, Robredo’s Twitter account was even the main source of information about the flooding in Cagayan.

“Pinapasa namin ‘yung lahat na distress calls sa lahat na puwede namin ma-contact on the ground – AFP, PNP, everyone we can get hold of. Buhay ng ating mga kababayan ang nakataya. There is no space for our ego when lives are at stake,” said Robredo. 

(We passed on all of the distress calls to anyone we can contact on the ground – the AFP, PNP, everyone we can get hold of. The lives of our countrymen are on the line. There is no space for our ego when lives are at stake.)

She then reminded Duterte that when Filipinos are in distress, it is important to let them know that their leaders have heard their pleas, that help is on its way, and that the government is doing everything to save them. 

Robredo said that doing their duties is not supposed to be a contest among public servants. 

“Sa panahon ng matinding sakuna, dapat lahat na tulong, welcome. Hindi ito contest. Hindi tayo nag-uunahan. Lahat tayo dapat nagtutulong-tulong para sa ating mga kababayan,” the Vice President said. 

(In times of great crisis, all kinds of help should be welcomed. This is not a contest. It’s not about who gets there first. We’re supposed to be working together for our people.) – Rappler.com

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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 mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.