Is beau Leni a,omg them?! ‘Yellows’ want me out, says Duterte

Leni: It’s my obligation to back Rody

President Duterte yesterday accused the camp identified with the previous administration of seeking his ouster and hinted that such efforts are being staged to benefit Vice President Leni Robredo.

“The yellows, you stage demonstrations, you want me out because you cannot accept defeat,” Duterte said during an event marking the anniversary of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption.

Yellow is the campaign color of the Liberal Party (LP) and the opposition during the Marcos dictatorship, and is associated with the Aquinos.

Politika yan (It’s politics)…they wanted me out siyempre, yung (of course the) vice president. You had your chance,” Duterte said at Malacañang.

Robredo, however, said yesterday it was her “oligation” to continue supporting the President, although she said she would continue to criticize policies that she thought were not good for the people.

Duterte made the statement two days after Robredo resigned as housing chief amid what Malacañang described as “irreconcilable differences” with the President.

The remarks also came a week after LP personalities joined protests against Duterte’s decision to allow the burial of dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

In an interview in Surigao yesterday, Robredo said, “I will continue to reach out to the President because I think it is my obligation to be supportive of him.”

But Robredo said she would remain critical of the administration, particularly on the burial of Marcos at the heroes’ cemetery, extrajudicial killings of suspected drug users and the reimposition of the death penalty.

“When he hired me, it was clear between us what my stand was on these issues. I can’t change my position on certain issues… this is something I can’t promise him I will do,” she added.

Robredo resigned as chair of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) last Monday after Duterte barred her and Commission on Higher Education chair Patricia Licuanan from attending Cabinet meetings.

Malacañang officials said Robredo, who belongs to the once powerful LP, has lost the trust of the President because of irreconcilable differences on many issues.

Robredo said she is requesting a meeting with Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr., the newly appointed HUDCC head, for the turnover of the terminal report on housing.

Evasco was Duterte’s campaign manager in the last presidential elections. It was also Evasco who relayed the President’s order to the Vice President to “desist” from attending Cabinet meetings.

Robredo said she hopes Evasco would continue the programs that she started at HUDCC in the past five months.

“I’m here to help, but of course it’s different if you are no longer in the position to help,” she said. “What I’ll do is to advocate and I will be the one to relay to Secretary Evasco what we receive from our end.”

 Based on Constitution

Opposition lawmaker Edcel Lagman of Albay said Duterte’s instruction last weekend for Robredo to desist from attending Cabinet meetings “is consummate imprudence.”

“The unceremonious manner by which Robredo was eased out from the Cabinet smacks of inordinate partisanship, gross impropriety and absence of requisite politesse,” he added.

Lagman also noted that Robredo’s membership in the Cabinet “has constitutional basis or anchorage, unlike other Cabinet members who are political appointees.”

He cited Article VII, Section 3 of the Charter, which provides “The vice president may be appointed as a member of the Cabinet.”

“This makes the vice president distinct from the other Cabinet members. As a Cabinet member, the vice president could not be considered merely as an alter ego of the president because he or she has a distinct and separate popular and constitutional mandate,” he explained.

He also said post-martial law vice presidents starting with the late Salvador Laurel to Joseph Estrada, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Noli de Castro, Jejomar Binay and Robredo were all given Cabinet posts largely because of the constitutional mandate.

Apology to Binay

Robredo also apologized to former vice president Jejomar Binay, saying she didn’t mean to undermine his work as housing chief under the previous administration.

Robredo made the apology after Binay’s spokesman Joey Salgado cried foul over her statement portraying herself as the most hardworking chair of the HUDCC in only five months in office. – With Jess Diaz

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