President Rodrigo Duterte lost his temper with Vice President Leni Robredo because she made it appear she was in charge of typhoon relief efforts, Malacañang said on Wednesday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte “must have had his reasons” for his tirade since Robredo made calls to the Armed Forces of the Philippines which is not part of her command responsibility.
“I do know that the President also knows to the fact that in many of her postings, the Vice President made it appear that she was the one who called out the Marines to give necessary aid to the victims of the Cagayan flooding,” he said in an interview over CNN Philippines’ The Source.
Duterte, in a speech aired on Tuesday night, accused Robredo of “grandstanding” in the height of Typhoon “Ulysses” and being “dishonest” about not knowing that he was attending the virtual conference of the 37th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit and Related Summits.
Roque said Duterte was also irked with Robredo acting like she was the one “calling the shots” on relief efforts through her posts on her official Twitter account.
“Her Twitter posters making it appear that she was the one calling the shots at the time of typhoon was completely out of order. And I thought, it was out of order. But I kept quiet because it was not my business to tell her how to conduct her everyday political life ‘no. But it was completely out of order that she misinformed the people, the nation, as if she was the one in charge of relief efforts – she was not! And the President said, under the constitutional scheme the Vice President is a spare tire and when Ulysses struck, he [President] was in charge,” he said.
Roque, citing Duterte, said government personnel and resources have already been deployed days before the typhoon made a landfall.
“It was not just one post that the Vice President was making it appear that she was in charge, the truth of the matter, as the President said, is even before the typhoon, directions and orders have already been given. So by the time that typhoon arrived it was just a matter of implementing what was already ordered by the President,” he said.
Roque said Duterte really did not want to argue with Robredo but he simply blew a fuse.
“The President does not really want to quarrel with VP Robredo and that is why I take my cue from him. He has always been preferential to VP Leni and this is unusual, that kumbaga napuno na si Presidente (the President was fed up) and spoke out against her,” he said.
He, however, admitted that he was not sure if Robredo really questioned Duterte’s whereabouts when the #NasaanAngPangulo hashtag trended on social media.
“I do not know, if there was misinformation. But what I am clear and what I have been saying all along to the Vice President is, now is not the time for politics. And I think the records will bear me out that every opportunity that the Vice President welcomes opportunity to take a snipe at the President, at the time of a pandemic and even at the time of a typhoon,” he said.
Roque also said he had no personal knowledge about statements made by Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo that Robredo boarded a government-owned C-130 when she went to the Bicol Region to provide relief to those affected by the recent typhoons.
“I guess at that time – again, I do not know what he said ‘no – he must just be emphasizing that you have to be absolutely truthful ‘no; if you just hitched, the ride or whether or not you brought humanitarian relief goods,” he said.
Robredo has denied questioning the whereabouts of Duterte, even urging the executive department to review her tweets. She said helping communities during a calamity should not be a contest.
Her camp also disputed Panelo’s claim that she boarded a C-130 when she went to Catanduanes.
Roque said Robredo may use government planes or choppers for relief efforts.“She can if she wants to ‘no, but I think you have to be clear about whether or not you just use a vehicle and whether or not in fact, you’re responsible for relief goods being carried by that vehicle,” he said. SOVEREIGPH