The Palace defended President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent assessment of Vice President Leni Robredo as incompetent and not fit to lead the country.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Mr. Duterte is more than qualified to determine the “incompetence” of Robredo.
The Palace official said the President, given his experience in public service and his more than 30 years of service in government, can only be expected to come up with certain standards and guidelines on the competency of public officials.
“He may have certain guidelines on who’s competent and who’s not. And he can express his own sentiment on this matter. Let’s just respect what he said because this was an observation coming from someone who has been serving in the government for a long time now,” Roque said.
In an interview with Palace reporters after delivering a speech in Pampanga last Tuesday, the President was asked about his view on Robredo’s decision to lead the opposition.
The President belittled Robredo’s capability not only in leading the opposition but also in running the affairs of the country.
“I don’t think she can be ever ready to govern a country. Reason? Incompetence. She’s not capable of running a country like this, Philippines,” Duterte said.
Roque also scoffed at Robredo’s announcement as providing leadership to the opposition that came some four months after she expressed willingness to be part again of the Duterte Cabinet.
“We wish her good luck and hopefully we will soon have a clear understanding of her role because recently, she seemed to be applying anew in the Cabinet. But now, at least, she appeared to have already decided to stick it out with the opposition and no longer hoping to be part of the Cabinet of the President,” he said.
Roque added it is only to be expected of Robredo to take on the role as opposition leader as she’s the highest elected member of the opposition.
The Palace official said it is the position of Malacañang that an active opposition leader has a vital role to play in a healthy, well-functioning democracy.
Robredo as leader?
Robredo’s formal acceptance of the role as opposition leader drew mixed reactions from senators as two of them shared the view that it was unfortunate the two highest leaders of the country are again on the opposing sides.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III noticed the timing of Robredo’s acceptance to be the leader of the united opposition – citing its possible impact on next year’s mid-term elections.
“In my opinion, it would have been better if she accepted it after the mid-term elections,” Sotto said.
“A poor performance in the elections might be attributed to her and not to her party’s leadership,” he added.
As opposition leader, Robredo is expected to lead the campaign of the Liberal Party and its allied political parties in next year’s polls. However, latest surveys showed poor ranking of the probable opposition senatorial bets.
For his part, Sen. Panfilo Lacson noted Robredo’s tentativeness in accepting the role as leader of the opposition.
Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito echoed Lacson’s statement –stressing the importance of having the country’s top leaders united in maintaining stability.
“I know it’s a hard task to have a reconciliation between President Duterte and VP Robredo. But I still believe that it will create the perception of unity and political stability which will be good for the economy,” Ejercito said.
Meanwhile, Liberal Party president Sen. Francis Pangilinan branded Robredo as the “stabilizing balance” against abusive government officials.
The Vice President’s camp said Mr. Duterte should “look into his own house” before calling her incompetent and unfit to lead the country.
“The President should look into his own house first before casting aspersions,” lawyer Barry Gutierrez, Robredo’s spokesman, said.
Angie M. Rosales,
Mario J. Mallari