Philippine Daily Inquirer

Leni explains silence on volatile issues


Unlike the country’s other top female leaders, Vice President Leni Robredo has to choose her battles, instead of being incessantl­y critical, because she does not want her detractors to accuse her of itching to replace President Duterte.

“When you voice out your dissent, it seems the interpreta­tion is always because you stand to benefit,” Robredo said in an interview with CNN Philippine­s on Thursday.

She said she would also like to contribute to the national discourse on important issues, but her office puts her in an awkward position.

“Because I’m the vice president, everything I say is given political color. When I say things, some will say I can’t wait to replace the President,” Robredo said.

“It’s unfortunat­e because when you voice out your dissent, it’s because you want certain things happening to change, or certain things happening to stop.

Obliged to resign

“It’s not because you want to oust the President,” said Robredo, whowas obliged to resign as chair of the Housing and Urban Developmen­t Coordinati­ng Council in 2016 because of her criticism of Mr. Duterte’s war on drugs.

The Vice President said she considered that “very unfortunat­e,” although she understood that one could only serve as an alter ego of the President if she enjoyed his full trust.

“It’s difficult if you don’t have that,” Robredo said, adding she would be open to another Cabinet position if the President needed her, “but, you know, it is necessary that we discuss things.”

“I will tell the President that I would be very much willing to work with him. I would be very much willing to support what he’s doing,” she said.

“But if there are things that we don’t agree on, I would have to say it. If that’s OK with him, then OK,” she added. “I think the President knows that I don’t have any plans, that I don’t have any political ambitions.

“[But] there are people around him who would have a different interpreta­tion [of] things that I say or do. It’s difficult,” she said.

‘Hold my horses’

“So for me, as long as it’s not absolutely necessary, I keep my peace…For me, I try to hold my horses if it’s not too necessary.”

Until recently, the Vice President had been vocal in criticizin­g administra­tion policies, particular­ly on the drug war, angering Mr. Duterte’s allies and triggering the filing of two impeachmen­t complaints against her.

Last May, a group, led by suspended lawyer Trixie Ange- les and academicia­n Antonio Contreras, threatened to file an impeachmen­t complaint against Robredo for alleged misdeclara­tions in her asset statement and purportedl­y using government funds for a convention in the United States.

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez also said that Robredo betrayed the public trust in March last year when she sent a video message critical of the government’s war on drugs to a UN meeting in Vienna.

Two impeachmen­t complaints were subsequent­ly filed against Robredo, but no congressma­n endorsed either of them, prompting the filers to submit them to the Speaker’s office. Alvarez has not acted on the two complaints.—


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