Vice President Leni Robredo’s allies in the Senate spoke in her defense on Wednesday, November 18, a day after President Rodrigo Duterte vilified and insulted her for having launched her own relief efforts for typhoon victims.
“Our situation today calls for greater solidarity and unity. We are facing a grave situation with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the devastating typhoons Quinta, Rolly, and Ulysses. We can and we should rise above politics during these trying times,” Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said in a statement
With 5 million Filipino families starving, 7 million Filipinos unemployed, and the economy in a slump, the country is facing a huge catastrophe, Drilon said. All effort and resources should be focused on rebuilding communities, and restoring agriculture and infrastructure damaged by typhoons, he added.
“Every hand counts and every action counts, and that includes the Vice President. We must all unite to help our kababayan (countrymen) who are heavily affected by the pandemic and the typhoons,” Drilon said.
“We should be able to get out of this as a whole and as a nation. The 2022 elections should not get in the way of disaster response,” Drilon added.
Senator Risa Hontiveros quoted a tweet from Robredo: “There is no space for our ego when lives are at stake."
“Every life saved matters, as every person's help matters. Magtulungan tayo because we are all in this together. Ang bida lang dito ay ang mga Pilipino (Let’s cooperate because we are all in this together. Only Filipinos are the heroes here),” Hontiveros went on.
“Lumalakad siya kung saan may mga victim-survivors, umuuwi siya sa mga taong tinutulungan niya, kaya tumatagal siya sa aming mga puso. Kung pati 'yan, iniintriga 'nyo, [iyan ay] dahil misogynist kayo,” Hontiveros said in a separate tweet.
(She walks where there are victim-survivors, she goes home to the people she helps, which is why she stays long in our hearts. If you find intrigue even in that, that is because you are a misogynist.)
“Ang mahalaga kay VP Leni ay kung paano makatulong sa mga kababayan natin mula Cagayan hanggang Bicol na tinamaan ng bagyo. Tulong sa kapwa, hindi mga gawa-gawang kuwento at hindi away, ang dapat tuununan ng pansin ng lahat,” Senator Francis Pangilinan tweeted.
(What is important to VP Leni is how to help our countrymen from Cagayan to Bicol who were hit by storms. Helping others, not made-up stories and not quarrels, is what everyone should focus on.)
Duterte took issue with Robredo for having taken the initiative to source and convey information, coordinate rescue operations, and bring relief to people from storm-hit areas clamoring for help.
Duterte wrongly accused her of trending #NasaanAngPangulo (Where is the President) on social media. Robredo never raised the question in any of her statements or tweets. The hashtag trended among netizens wanting to know what actions Duterte has taken during the typhoons.
The President accused the Vice President of “competing” and “starting a quarrel” with him. He also made misogynist remarks and lewd insinuations about her.
"Ikaw, noong gabi, anong oras ka umuwi? Isang bahay ka lang ba, dalawang bahay? Nagtatanong lang ako. Kay congressman ka. Kaninong bahay ka natagalan?" Duterte said.
(You, during the night, what time did 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?)
On the night following Typhoon Ulysses’ (Vamco) onslaught, Robredo went live on Facebook and spoke about her office’s efforts to bring help to Cagayan and Isabela, which were caught off-guard in unprecedented floods. Many Filipinos hailed her and her office’s efforts.
Robredo herself refuted Duterte’s claims, pointing out that she never tagged the President in any of her statements.
As of 12 pm on Wednesday, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said Ulysses left at least 73 people dead and 24 injured, while 19 people were still missing. – Rappler.com
JC Gotinga often reports about the West Philippine Sea, the communist insurgency, and terrorism as he covers national defense and security for Rappler. He enjoys telling stories about his hometown, Pasig City. JC has worked with Al Jazeera, CNN Philippines, News5, and CBN Asia.