MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Hours after she officially resigned as housing czar of the Duterte administration, Vice President Leni Robredo called on Filipinos not to be afraid and to stand up for their convictions.
In an address to the nation delivered late Monday afternoon, December 5, Robredo said she is aware that many are worried about the country's political future.
"Since we released our statement yesterday, many have asked, what's next? I have sensed despair and anxiety and always that question: what will happen to us now?" said the Vice President. "This is not the time for fear. It is a time for conviction. It is a time for courage."
Robredo also said recent developments that led to her resignation as chairperson of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) have strengthened her resolve to do what is right, no matter how difficult.
She maintained that she would continue doing her job as an elected official and would continue working on housing initiatives, even without a Cabinet post. (READ: Cabinet officials saddened by Robredo's resignation)
"My highest loyalty is to the Constitution and to you, the Filipino people – a vow that both the President and I took when we assumed our offices.This means, I must be free to speak my mind to protect you, your dreams, and your future," Robredo said.
"As your duly elected Vice President, I will continue to serve with all my strength and passion, confident that in the end, what is right will prevail."
Robredo, responding to questions from media, also elaborated on how she said she was treated as a member of the Duterte Cabinet. (READ: Palace: Duterte, Robredo have 'irreconcilable differences')
Robredo earlier said she failed to get support for housing initiatives, such as President Rodrigo Duterte not signing an executive order for the HUDCC. (READ: How did Duterte break with Robredo? Through text message)
"Lahat ko 'yun nilunok kasi 'yung sa 'kin meron akong trabahong gagampanan," said the Vice President. (I just put up with all of the obstacles because I had a job to do.)
But eventually, Robredo said, it seemed to her that she was not welcome in the Duterte Cabinet. "Sa 'kin ang dating they were trying to ease me out." (My impression was that they were trying to ease me out.)
Asked to comment on Duterte's statement – relayed by Communications Secretary Martin Andanar – that he accepted her resignation with a "heavy heart," Robredo said this triggered confusion.
"Again, I'm confused, kasi if you say 'heavy heart' parang malungkot siya, pero 'yung hindi niya pagpa-attend sa 'kin ng Cabinet meeting... 'yung writing on the wall ...if you're not trusted enough to let you in [it's contradictory]," the Vice President said.
(Again, I'm confused, because if you say "heavy heart" that's supposed to mean he's sad, but the fact that he ordered me to stop attending Cabinet meetings... the writing on the wall... if you're not trusted enough to let you in it's contradictory.)
Despite being at odds with Duterte, Robredo maintained that she would continue to support the administration's "positive" initiatives, while opposing those which she believes are not in the best interests of the people.
"'Yung success ng administrasyon na ito para sa ating bansa... Kahit ganito pa 'yung treatment sa 'kin, palagay ko hindi na ito tungkol sa akin," she said. "Meron akong mandato, kailangan mag-transcend sa kahit anong pulitika."
(The success of this administration is for the people... Even though this has been the treatment accorded me, I think this is no longer about me. I have a mandate, and I must transcend politics.)
Leading the opposition?
Is Robredo keen on becoming the opposition leader?
The Vice President said she would continue to wish for the success of the administration, but would speak out against policies that she believes would not be best for the people.
An example of such a policy is the proposal to revive the death penalty.
"I would oppose the policies that I think are detrimental to the Filipino people," Robredo said. "If being an opposition leader entails that, then I would be an opposition leader." (READ: LIST: Where Duterte and Robredo part ways) – Rappler.com