At midterm, Robredo wants better ties with Duterte

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo said she wants a better working relationship with President Rodrigo Duterte as both of them on Sunday, June 30, entered the final stretch of their 6-year terms.

Speaking on her radio show Biserbisyong Leni on Sunday, Robredo described her first 3 years as Vice President as "good" but "challenging," as she clashes with Duterte on issues such as the West Philippine Sea.

"Ang ating parang hino-hope, iyong sanang mangyayari, iyong magandang working relationship between sa Pangulo at saka sa Pangalawang Pangulo. Kasi iyon naman ang nararapat sana," Robredo said. (What we hope for is a better working relationship between the President and Vice President. Because that is how it is supposed to be.)

Robredo admitted however that this may be difficult to achieve as she and Duterte hold opposing beliefs on crucial issues, such as the the government's bloody war on drugs and its ties with China. (LIST: Where Duterte and Robredo part ways)

Robredo on Sunday, for instance, hit Duterte's claim that it was "thoughtless" and "senseless" to uphold the constitutional mandate to defend Philippine waters. (READ: Justice Carpio refutes Duterte gov't: China can't fish in PH)

"Walang karapatan kahit sinong opisyal na baguhin ito hanggang nasa Saligang Batas siya," she said. (No official has the right to change this as long as it is in the Constituion.)

The Vice President likewise rejected the government's narrative that the Philippines' only option was to stay on China's "good side" or risk going to war with the Asian giant. Robredo said Vietnam and Indonesia have been vocal against China while managing good economic ties.

"Galing lang naman sa kanila iyong giyera, wala namang nagsasabing giyera," Robredo said. "Magbe-benefit tayo sa magandang economic relations with them, pero huwag naman aabusuhin. Huwag naman at the expense ng ating sovereignty at saka ng ating mga teritoryo."

(The notion of war comes from them. No one else is saying we will go to war.... We will benefit from good economic ties with China, but it should not be abused. It shouldn't be at the expense of our sovereignty and territory.)

The working relationship between Duterte and Robredo has been shaky from the start. In December 2016, Robredo was in fact asked to "desist" from attending all Cabinet meetings" due to "irreconcilable differences" with Duterte. She then resigned as housing czar. (READ: How did Duterte break with Robredo? Through text message– 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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