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Duterte vows Leni won’t win

You are assuming that I should be giving orders on the day of the storm. That is stupid. That is why you cannot become a president.

MJ Blancaflor



President Rodrigo Duterte clapped back at Vice President Leni Robredo late Tuesday night over what he called was a competition between them in the delivery of relief to typhoon-stricken Filipinos last week.

The Chief Executive said Robredo, who heads the opposition, should not “compete” with him.

“Do not compete with me and do not start a quarrel,” Duterte told Robredo. “Because you (Robredo) did not do anything except make calls like “where is the helicopter? Has it flown?’”

“The truth is, the reason why I flew to Bicol was because you projected to have been there first,” the President narrated during a late-night television appearance to report to the people.

Duterte also lambasted the vice president for allegedly using military assets to distribute relief to the victims of the three typhoons which struck a large part of Luzon in the last three weeks.

He also twitted Robredo over her tweets showing her relief-giving activities in some parts of the most affected areas.

Secretary of Defense Delfin Lorenzana, however, clarified that the Vice President did not use any military asset, claiming a mix-up in information may have led to the faulty report to the President.

Major General Edgard Arevalo, spokesman of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, meanwhile, said “there should be no issue if the vice president requests for assistance from the AFP, provided that assets and personnel are available. Proper coordination should also be followed before any use of AFP assets during calamities.”

“You are assuming (that) I should be giving orders on the day of the storm. That is stupid. That is why you cannot become a president,” he said.

“You cannot give orders (to the military) because I have given out those orders two or three days (prior). You do not give orders on the day of the war,” the President went on.

The Chief Executive also told Robredo that she could not make it appear that she was in charge of the typhoon response.

He even accused Robredo as having started the #nasaanangpangulo (where is the President) hashtag which trended on social media at the height of the typhoons.

“I would like to give caution to the vice president. She made a blunder. A big one,” he said. “She practically lied, making her incapable of truth. That one which she started that I was not working when the typhoons struck.”

Robredo called the President’s accusations “fake news.”

“I am calling out whoever peddled the fake news to the President that’s why he was easily angered. I never asked ‘nasaan ang Pangulo?’ You can review my tweets,” Robredo said.

#Nasaanangpangulo first trended on social media after former President Benigno Simeon Aquino III missed the heroes’ welcome for the 42 or the 44 Special Action Force (SAF) officers on 29 January 2015 at the Villamor Airbase. Aquino attended the inauguration of a Japanese car plant in Laguna on that day, instead.

Those SAF members were killed in an encounter with terror groups in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on 25 January during what was claimed as a US-led operation to extract Malaysian bomb maker Zulkifli Abdhir, alias Marwan, from the province. Marwan was also killed by SAF before they were massacred by the locals and some private armies.

Speaking to CNN Philippines, presidential spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque admitted being unsure if Robredo indeed asked for Duterte’s whereabouts at the height of typhoon “Ulysses.” But he claimed the Chief Executive had his own basis to make such strong pronouncements.

“And this is unusual that the President had it and spoke out against her. So, he must have his reasons,” Roque said.

The Palace official also slammed Robredo and said it was “out of order” for making it appear that she was the one calling the shots during a typhoon response.

“Now is not the time for politics and I think the records will bear me out that every opportunity, the Vice President welcomes (the) opportunity to take a snide at the President. At a time of pandemic and even at a time of typhoon,” he stated.

“And, of course, her Twitter posts making it appear that she was the one calling the shots at the time of the typhoon was completely out of order… And the President said, under the Constitutional scheme, the vice president is a spare tire and when ‘Ulysses’ struck, he was in charge,” he added.

The President tried to turn the tables on Robredo by raising a rhetorical question.

“What if I ask you ‘what time did you go home? In whose house did you spend your time? Duterte retorted even as he called the Vice President “stupid, weak and unfit (for the presidency).”

Robredo, widow of the late Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo, branded Duterte as a misogynist for making that statement.

Meanwhile, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said his political experience tells him to distance from the “fray” between the country’s top two leaders.

“I’d rather not jump into the fray. My 32 years of political experience tells me not to,” he said in a text message to reporters.

He also took a swipe on the “epal” or attention seekers during relief efforts, citing a Bible verse that teaches about giving to the needy in secret.

“Just help! MATTHEW 6:3. They’re all talk!” Sotto said.

Matthew 6:3 is the third verse of the sixth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament and is part of the Sermon on the Mount. It says: “If one spends too much effort pondering giving, one will scheme to have even secret donations made public so that you might be praised”.

with Hananeel Bordey