MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Vice President Leni Robredo took offense at Senator Alan Peter Cayetano's "theory" that the Liberal Party is supposedly behind an alleged plot to impeach President Rodrigo Duterte.
"We are offended by Senator Cayetano’s accusation that the Liberal Party is plotting to oust the President and that I will be the intended beneficiary of this plan," Robredo said in a statement on Thursday, September 15.
"As I have reiterated time and again, it is not good for the country to go through another period of upheaval, where the common Filipino will suffer the most," she added.
Cayetano raised the alleged plot as a possible motive behind the appearance of a new witness at the Senate inquiry into extrajudicial killings on Thursday. Edgar Matobato, who claimed to be a former member of the Davao Death Squad, had accused Duterte of ordering the killing of suspected criminals and others when he was Davao City mayor.
Robredo, a Cabinet member, said she personally clarified the matter with Duterte at the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday. It was the President who made the ouster allegation against the "yellow" forces, referring to the Liberal Party and their allies earlier this week.
"In yesterday's Cabinet meeting, I personally made the assurance that no such plan exists and we continue to support the reforms of this administration," the Vice President said.
She also pointed out in a news briefing on Friday, September 16, that she has a "very good working relationship" with Duterte and does not wish for it to be tained.
"Sana hindi naman masira 'yong ganoon. Iyong mga pangangailangan ng assignment ko, nandiyan iyon whole heart and support ng ating Pangulo. Every chance na I could get, sinasabi ko sa kanya na makakaasa siya sa aking suporta," she said.
(I hope it won't be ruined. All that I need in my assignment, the President supports wholeheartedly. Every chance I could get, I tell him that he can always count on my support.)
Cayetano was Duterte's running mate in the last elections. The senator and another vice presidential candidate, former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr, had made the same allegation against the LP during the campaign – that the party would seek to impeach Duterte so that Robredo will become president, if the LP bet won.
As he questioned Matobato at the Senate hearing, Cayetano said the witness' testimony may be used to impeach Duterte. He then asked Matobato who would replace Duterte if the President was unseated.
Matobato said he was uncertain who would assume the presidency if Duterte were impeached, prompting Cayetano to ask: "Hindi niyo po kilala ang Vice President natin (You don't know who our Vice President is)?"
Cayetano also pointed out that Senator Leila de Lima, the chairperson of the committee on justice which is conducting the probe, is an LP member, and questioned her neutrality in heading the investigation. (READ: Senators face off at probe into killings: 'Out of order, trash talk')
The senator also noted that Senate President Pro-Tempore Franklin Drilon and Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Chairman Chito Gascon are both LP stalwarts.
LP lawmakers have denied the allegation, saying no such plan existed. They have also said that Duterte is "overwhelmingly popular" and enjoys strong support in both houses of Congress, especially in the House of Representatives, where the impeachment process starts.