Roque: Duterte won't ask for transition president if Robredo is competent

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 12) — The President's spokesman on Thursday cited Vice President Leni Robredo's alleged incompetence as the reason behind the request for a transition leader to be elected to oversee the shift to a federal form of government.

"[President Rodrigo Duterte won't ask that the] transition leader should be elected if he feels that the country will be safe in the hands of the Vice President," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a press briefing Thursday.

Duterte had asked the Consultative Committee tasked to review the Constitution to revise the transitory provisions in the draft of its proposed charter to allow him to step down from his post once the country goes federal. This will make way for the public to elect a new President who will oversee the transition to federalism.

Roque said Duterte's earlier remark saying Robredo was not fit to lead the country was a "frank, honest, [and] objective assessment."

"Alam ko pong nasaktan kayo pero yung assessment po ni Presidente (I know you were hurt but the President's assessment) is an assessment of one who has served almost 30 years in an elective position," Roque said, comparing Duterte's three-decade experience as an elected official to Robredo's five-year stint as a lawmaker and vice president.

In a statement on Wednesday, Robredo referred to Duterte's remark as an "insult," telling him to focus instead on fixing the problems in the country's economy.

Roque, however, denied there is any problem, stressing that the Philippines is a "darling economy."

"Wala tayong problema sa ekonomiya. Sabi ko na nga po paulit-ulit and it's a matter of record that we are the second fastest growing economy in the world," Roque said.

Inflation showed a fresh five-year high at 5.2 percent in June, but Roque has said this is no cause for alarm, as this only means "there's money going around"

He attributed this to free tuition, lower withholding tax because of the tax reform law, and the administration's aggressive infrastructure spending program.

Robredo previously said changing the constitution is not the solution to high prices and poverty.