Duterte accepts Robredo resignation
Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo was eased out of the Cabinet because she has lost the trust and confidence of the President, a Palace official said on Monday.
Robredo resigned as head of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) after being told by Cabinet Secretary Leoncio “Jun” Evasco Jr. that the President no longer wanted her to attend Cabinet meetings.
Duterte accepted Robredo’s resignation on Monday.
“The President no longer has the confidence and the trust to be in one room with the Vice President, and that is the official meeting between the President and Cabinet officials. That’s the Cabinet meeting,” Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said of Duterte’s order to Robredo to desist from attending Cabinet meetings.
Andanar said Duterte and Robredo have “irreconcilable differences” and that the two don’t see “eye to eye” on several issues such as the burial of former strongman Ferdinand Marcos and the Duterte administration’s war on drugs.
When asked about his personal views of Robredo, Andanar said the Vice President had “very intelligent and insightful ideas” and she “always fought for her department’s interests” during Cabinet meetings.
“She was never remiss of those opportunities when she had to put her foot down for the HUDCC, of course we’re all thankful for her service and we hope we could still work with her in the future,” he added.
The Palace official dismissed Robredo’s claim that there is a plot to oust her.
“That is speculation from the camp of the Vice President. That is for them to sort, that kind of speculation. It’s not the job of Cabinet officials and the administration to fire public officials,” he said.
“Our job is to institute reforms in this government and the best person to ask that question is the Vice President [herself],” Andanar added.
Liberal Party (LP) senators decried Duterte’s move to force Robredo out of the Cabinet, claiming it is part of the plot to weaken her political capital.
Senate President Pro-Tempore Franklin Drilon said all past actions or inaction by the executive branch were clear manifestations that from the beginning, the administration does not want Robredo to succeed.
“The writings are on the wall. The administration wants the political capital of VP [Vice President] Robredo diminished by stripping her of any opportunity to fulfill her mandate as Cabinet member and head of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council [HUDCC],” Drilon noted.
He cited the P19-billion cut in the housing budget and the inaction on her appointment recommendations to key shelter agencies as among these efforts intended to prevent Robredo from succeeding.
“It was alarming. Where this sinister plot, if not prevented, would lead us is very ominous and disturbing,” Drilon said.
He called on the public to be vigilant because the administration could also seize control of the judiciary.
According to Drilon, Malacanang is poised to appoint majority of justices in the Supreme Court because eight justices will be retiring.
“By 2019, the administration would have appointed the majority of the justices in the Supreme Court. More than ever and most especially in times like this, the country needs a more independent, resolute and uncompromising Supreme Court,” he said.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros backed Robredo’s decision to resign.
She said the Vice President was disrespected and objectified on many occasions by no less than the President himself.
“Her way of dressing was made an object of sexist remarks, she was subjected to inappropriate advances and was even reduced to well-rounded knees,” Hontiveros added.
Acting LP president Sen. Francis Pangilinan said Robredo was treated unfairly by the administration because of her position against Marcos’ burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani and the restoration of the death penalty.
The camp of former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. also on Monday said Robredo’s departure from the Cabinet is long overdue given her adversarial attitude.
“Whether she was fired or she resigned from her post is definitely not the business of former Senator Bongbong Marcos. However, we take strong exception to her statement on not letting the vice presidency to be ‘stolen’ from her and the will of the people to be ‘thwarted,’” Vic Rodriguez, Marcos’ spokesman, said.
“The vice presidency has indeed been stolen and it was stolen by no less than Mrs. Robredo herself and the political party she continuously supports. It was they who thwarted the will of the Filipino people by depriving them of their real choice for the vice presidency,” Rodriguez added.
He said the Vice President undermined the independence of the Supreme Court by casting doubt on its future actions and processes.
Marcos filed an electoral protest against Robredo. The case is pending before the High Court.
“Her departure from the Cabinet has nothing to do with the election protest but has everything to do with her political ambition and that of her party’s desperate and despicable act of getting back into power. Long before the May 2016 elections, we were the first ones to reveal the Liberal Party’s ‘Plan B,’ which was to rob Senator Marcos of the vice presidency, install Mrs. Robredo in his stead and eventually work for the ouster of President Duterte. It is obvious that ‘Plan B’ is now in full swing,” Rodriguez said.