A palace spokesman said Thursday it was unlikely that President Rodrigo Duterte and Vice President Leni Robredo could work together, given their political history.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque offered this assessment after the President wrongly accused Robredo of asking where he was at the height of Typhoon “Ulysses” in a 20-minute rant on national television.
Roque said despite the opportunities to work together, Robredo “listened to her advisers” and acted as a member of the opposition, if not an obstructionist.
He said, however, that relations between the two might improve, now that the President had got the matter off his chest.
A spokesman for Robredo, meanwhile, asked why the President was so insecure about the vice president, given his high approval rating.
“Why be insecure if you have a 91 percent approval rating?” Robredo’s spokesman Barry Gutierrez said.
“Come on, the President is complaining about the hashtag when for four years, the vice president has been continuously blasted by a never-ending barrage of fake news, of online abuse,” he told the ANC’s “Matters of Fact.”
“Her daughters have been subjected to rape threats. The baseless insinuations, completely false of course, about her personal life have been made. And you know, she just shuts it off. It’s something that comes with the territory,” he added.
He echoed the Vice President’s denial that she was behind the #NasaanAngPangulo that went viral on social media, after Duterte’s absence at the height of Ulysses was noted.
“Instead of talking about what needs to be done in order to rebuild the lives of all those affected by the typhoon, all those affected by flooding, here we are spending so much time talking about hashtags, talking about who said what, talking about all these things, and to be very clear, we are not interested in this,” he said.
Duterte’s former aide, Senator Christopher Go, said the President remains focused on delivering public service despite recent criticism that he was not visible during the height of the latest typhoon.
Go said Duterte has always been busy working and leading the country amid the challenges brought about by natural disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“President Duterte was closely monitoring and giving directives to respond to the immediate needs of Filipinos while still being able to fulfill his obligations as head of state in the 37th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit of Leaders,” Go said.
“’Others were just focused on criticisms while we were working. We are always prioritizing your welfare and the lives of the Filipinos,” he added.
At the same time, he called for unity as he urged critics to help their fellow Filipinos instead, and cooperate with the government to uplift the lives of those affected by the crises.
Go also assured typhoon victims that the government will not leave anyone behind, as promised by the President. He committed to help them get the assistance they need from the concerned agencies.
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, meanwhile, cited the conflicting claims by the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) and the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pag-asa) over who had a say in the discharging water from the country’s dams.
Zubiri said NIA claims it needs a go signal from Pag-asa before they can release dam water ahead of time, which would have prevented the severe floods that inundated parts of Luzon after Typhoon Ulysses.
Pag-asa officials, communicating through DOST budget sponsor Sen. Joel Villanueva, denied this, saying NIA remains in full control over dam discharge operations.