“I don’t want to dignify (Duterte’s comment against my leadership ability). I just want to tell him that instead of insulting me and God, he better address the country’s economic problems,” Robredo said in Filipino.
Boy Santos
Leni Robredo to Duterte: It’s the economy...
Helen Flores, Marvin Sy (The Philippine Star) - July 12, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Instead of hitting back at President Duterte for calling her incompetent, Vice President Leni Robredo advised the Chief Executive yesterday to address the country’s economic woes.

“I don’t want to dignify (Duterte’s comment against my leadership ability). I just want to tell him that instead of insulting me and God, he better address the country’s economic problems,” Robredo said in Filipino.

Despite Duterte’s latest tirades against her, Robredo said she would attend his third State of the Nation Address on July 23.

“I will attend because that’s my obligation as Vice President,” she said.

Robredo’s legal adviser, however, hit back at Duterte after he called her incompetent and unfit to lead the country.

“The President should look into his own house first before casting aspersions,” Barry Gutierrez, former Akbayan representative, said in a television interview.

In a statement late Tuesday, Gutierrez listed down the issues hounding the country under Duterte.

“Inflation: 5.2 percent. Bigas: 42/kilo. $1 = 53.51. Dagdag sa pambansang utang: 1.19T. Sariling karagatan: bawal sa Pinoy. Trapik: palala pa. Patayan, tila araw araw na lang. Incompetent? Nagsalita ang magaling (Inflation: 5.2 percent Rice: 42/kilo. $1 = 53.51. Additions to the national debt: 1.19T. Our own waters: prohibited to Filipinos. Traffic: worsening. Killings, appear to be a daily occurrence. Incompetent? Look who’s talking),” Gutierrez said.

He also cited the drop in Duterte’s satisfaction ratings in the second quarter survey of the Social Weather Stations.

But Gutierrez said the Vice President is no stranger to being maligned over the past two years and continues to focus on her job.

“In all that time, she’s learned to take it in stride,” Gutierrez said.

Duterte’s remarks came after Robredo on Tuesday announced that she is ready to lead opposition groups against the President.

Robredo said she would lead a “united opposition” composed of the Liberal Party, which she chairs, and civil society groups.

Simply untrue

The allies of the Vice President in the Senate also came to her defense following Duterte’s latest attacks.

LP president Sen. Francis Pangilinan said the remarks made by the President were not only unfortunate but also untrue.

Pangilinan noted how Robredo managed to focus on her advocacy of helping the poor help themselves and even marshaled partners from the private sector to extend P252 million worth of aid for 155,000 families in spite of not having a Cabinet position.

“Vice President Leni has shown her competence through compassionate, empowering and responsible leadership,” Pangilinan said. 

He said the statements digress from the core issues that hound Filipinos every day such as the hike in the price of rice and other basic goods. 

“And out on the streets, our citizens are subject to kotong (mulcting), threatened with arrest or harm, while the Chinese poachers who mistreat our fishermen are treated with kid gloves,” Pangilinan said. 

“He also called God stupid so I will take his comment as another joke,” he added.

Pangilinan said there was no change in the role of Robredo as the leader of the opposition because she has always been vocal about the burning issues of the day. 

“So in this regard I believe she will continue to speak up and I do not see the need for her to be more vocal than she already is,” he said. 

Sen. Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, who served as campaign manager of Robredo in the 2016 elections, said the Vice President has been consistent in helping the poor and the oppressed even before she ran for higher office. 

“For me, the true measure of the capability of a leader is how she comes up with solutions to the problems of the people,” Aquino said. 

He said the Vice President has already proven her worth in this regard.

In a statement, LP vice president for external affairs Lorenzo Tañada III said what was even more disturbing in the attacks launched against Robredo was that it came with “the obviously pro-Marcos stance of Solicitor General Jose Calida in the late dictator’s son’s electoral protest against our Vice President.”

Robredo’s rival in the 2016 elections, former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., has filed an electoral protest against her. The Vice President filed a counter-protest.?“It appears that the attacks on Vice President Leni are based on Bongbong Marcos’s plan to subvert the people’s will and revise history in their family’s favor. To this, we say: Marcos was a dictator. He tortured. He killed. He plundered. And we will never forget,” Tañada said.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson, for his part, said it was lamentable that Robredo has been relegated to “a mere spare tire” under the current administration after being removed from her Cabinet position by the President. 

In effect, Lacson said the Vice President is just “waiting for the President to die or be incapacitated, which is unfortunate considering that she was elected along with the President.” 

“So regardless of party affiliations, they should be working together for our country’s sake,” he said. 

Lacson said Robredo should have defined her role as leader of the opposition as soon as she was removed as a member of the Cabinet. 

“I thought she was somehow tentative in assuming that role, and the people, even those opposing the administration, could see through that,” he said.

His own opinion

Malacañang yesterday urged the public to respect Duterte’s view that Robredo is incapable of running the country, saying he was speaking as an official with decades-long experience in government. 

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Duterte has his standards in assessing the qualities and competence of a leader. – With Alexis Romero

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