Robredo: Better ties between President, VP could have benefited Filipinos

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President Rodrigo Duterte (L) and Vice President Leni Robredo (R)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 18) — Looking back four years under the Duterte administration, Vice President Leni Robredo believes Filipinos could have benefited more if there was no political divide between the two highest leaders of the land.

“It would have been better kung meron kaming mas harmonious na working relationship ni Pangulo dahil para sa akin magre-redound naman ‘yun to the benefit of the Filipinos,” Robredo told CNN Philippines’ News Night on Wednesday.

[Translation: It would have been better if the President and I have a more harmonious working relationship because for me it will redound to the benefit of the Filipinos.]

Robredo was in Camarines Sur, where she visited areas ravaged by recent typhoons. With a 2020 budget of only ₱708 million, her office counts on private partnerships for relief efforts.

“Despite the environment I am working in… nasanay na akong maghanap kung saan may buwelo (I have been used to look for other ways). Kung mahirap ito, e 'di hanap ng ibang daan (If it's difficult, then I look for other ways),” Robredo said.

She said she’s not complaining, saying it is a “small price to pay (for a chance) to make a difference, to have a platform to be able to help.”

Duterte vs. Robredo

President Rodrigo Duterte’s sour relationship with Robredo reared its ugly head Tuesday night as he lambasted his Vice President for supposedly competing with the government’s disaster response.

Duterte falsely accused Robredo of asking his whereabouts, when it was the public who was seeking accountability from his administration during the onslaught of typhoons.

The most recent was Typhoon Ulysses, which left at least 73 people dead when it battered Luzon last week. Last Friday night, calls to rescue residents from their flooded homes in Cagayan province dominated social media. Robredo gave updates on her Twitter page, noting that she did not see any government official respond to the distress calls online.

She also denied the President’s allegations that she had given orders to the Armed Forces to rescue affected residents.

LIST: Robredo debunks Duterte admin's false claims on typhoon efforts

Robredo believes the President is being fed wrong information yet again. In November 2019, Duterte fired Robredo from her anti-drug czar post, citing the invitation she supposedly extended to a foreign human rights advocate to come and look into the country’s situation, among others. Duterte later apologized for believing the "false news.”

Robredo said a system wherein the winning President and the Vice President should come from the same political party is “worth looking into,” but added that the current setup works because it provides checks and balances. Still, she said the 2022 presidential elections is far from her mind since a lot of things can happen in a year.

'Very malicious' allegation

Another accusation hurled against Robredo was that she boarded a government C-130 plane to reach typhoon-hit Catanduanes early this month. She stressed that only the relief goods from her office –- 80 food packs -– had to be transported via a military chopper to the island province because no ship was available.

“[Typhoon] Quinta, Rolly, Ulysses, in all the three weeks, once lang na may kinarga sa military chopper, all the time, private. 'Yung aming partners 'yung nagpo-provide ng logistical support,” she said.

[Translation: Typhoon Quinta, Rolly, Ulysses, in all the three weeks, only once were relief goods transported via military chopper, all the time, private. Our partners are providing us with logistical support.]

She said it was “very malicious” for Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo to claim that she used a government plane filled with relief goods to make it appear the donations came from her. Panelo, along with Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana later apologized, saying they got the wrong information on Robredo's trip.

READ: AFP sees no problem if Robredo uses gov't aircraft

“Para sa akin, meron nga tayong Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, bakit minamasama niyo ang tulong ko? Hindi ko naman kayo ginagambala,” Robredo lamented.

[Translation: For me, we even have a Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, but why are you taking my help the wrong way? I am not giving you any trouble.]