Duterte fumes over Robredo’s typhoon efforts: ‘Do not compete with me’

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 17) — President Rodrigo Duterte opened his address to the nation on Tuesday night by lambasting Vice President Leni Robredo for supposedly questioning his whereabouts as Typhoon Ulysses ravaged several parts of Luzon.

“She made a blunder, a big one, and she practically lied, making her incapable of truth,” Duterte said in the taped address. “'Yung pakana niya na wala ako sa bagyo (Regarding her claim that I wasn’t present during the storm), I was here, I was attending the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Summit.”

The President went on a tirade for several minutes, falsely accusing Robredo of lying to the public despite knowing that he was, at the time, present at the virtual plenary with other ASEAN leaders. He also found fault with her efforts to help affected residents, saying she has done “nothing but make calls.”

Do not compete with me. Do not start a quarrel with me, kasi ikaw wala ka talagang ginawa except mga tawag-tawag (you really have done nothing except to make calls),” he said.

Huwag ka masyadong paporma-porma. Hindi mo panahon (Don’t show off too much. It’s not your time),” he added.

Duterte also warned that he has a mouthful to say against Robredo, should she decide to gun for the presidency in 2022.

"During the campaign, papaalis na ako, sige subukan mo. Matagal na akong maraming gusto sabihin sa iyo. Ireserba ko," the President said. "When you start your campaign kapag magtakbo ka ng president, waswasan kita nang husto. This is your nightmare."

[Translation: During the campaign, I am about to end my term, just try me. I have long been holding back, but I will reserve my words. When you start your campaign when you run for president, I will really go after you. This is your nightmare.]

Robredo has actively given updates regarding relief and rescue efforts on her Twitter page, after social media platforms were dominated by calls to save trapped residents in typhoon-hit areas on Friday.

The Office of the Vice President has been spearheading relief drives with the help of the private sector to reach out to localities devastated by typhoons Quinta, Rolly, and Ulysses. Over the past weeks, Robredo herself went to various communities in Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Albay, Cagayan, Marikina City, and Rizal to check the condition of residents. She also personally distributed relief packs and basic necessities to them.

It was also not Robredo but the netizens who posted the hashtag #NasaanAngPangulo (Where is the President?) and other related tweets as they clamored for updates on the national government's response to appeals for help.

Shortly after Duterte made the scathing remarks, Robredo responded in a tweet, saying, “I just called out Sec. (Salvador) Panelo for peddling fake news. I am also calling out whoever peddled the fake news to the President, kaya ganito siya ka pikon. I never said ‘Where is the President’? You can review all my tweets.”

She added: "Sa panahon ng matinding sakuna, dapat lahat na tulong, welcome. Hindi ito contest. Hindi tayo nag uunahan. Lahat tayo dapat nagtutulong tulong para sa ating mga kababayan."

[Translation: In times of disasters, all forms of help should be welcomed. This is not a contest. We are not in a race. We should all help each other for the welfare of our fellow Filipinos.]

Robredo also slammed Duterte's "misogynistic" remark and tweeted video clips of ongoing relief and repacking operations in her headquarters.

Duterte has repeatedly defended himself from critics who took a swipe at his absence in initial briefings held by government officials at the height of the recent typhoons. He also previously said in a six-minute speech that he wanted to "swim" with Typhoon Ulysses victims to share their agony but he was prohibited by his aides.

RELATED: 'Political punchline': Duterte denies slow response to typhoons