MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said he does not believe Vice President Leni Robredo is involved in an alleged destabilization plot being brewed against him.
In a news conference in Malacañang, Duterte claimed that mining firms negatively affected by Environment Secretary Gina Lopez's policies are funding the opposition to destabilize his government.
Duterte said part of the destabilization plot is to make him “unpopular,” but he clarified that Robredo has nothing to do with it.
“I don’t know, maybe destabilization, make me upopular, 'yung mangamoy ako. Sige lang, so be it. Tingnan natin,” he said.
“Pero hindi ko sinasabi na kasali si Leni ha. I don’t want to drag her name.”
The relationship between the two highest leaders of the country has been rocked by policy differences, including Duterte's approval to have the remains of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos interred in the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
Back in December, Robredo resigned as Duterte’s housing czar after she was prevented by the president from attending Cabinet meetings. She has since taken a stronger stance on key issues and controversies involving the Duterte administration.
Duterte once accused the Liberal Party, Robredo’s political party, of plotting to unseat him.
Some of Duterte’s aides have been claiming that the president’s critics are brewing "destabilization plots," citing the criticisms on the government’s war on drugs and allegations he operated a death squad when he was mayor of Davao City.
Critics have called out Duterte and his aides for, at times, linking dissent to destabilization.
Duterte’s defense secretary, Delfin Lorenzana, however, said that as far as the military is concerned, there is no destabilization plot against the government.
Lorenzana said airing criticisms is part of democracy and does not necessarily lead to destabilization.
PANGILINAN: DUTERTE APPOINTEES TO BLAME
Meantime, Senator Francis Pangilinan, LP president, said Duterte’s appointees are actually the ones causing damage to the reputation of the administration.
“PNP (Philippine National Police) may problema. BID (Bureau of Immigration) may problema. NFA (National Food Authority) may problema. NIA (National Irrigation Administration) may problema. TPB (Tourism Promotions Board) may problema. Sec. Yasay may problema,” said Pangilinan, president of the Liberal Party.
“Mga appointees mismo ng gobyerno ang gumagawa ng paninira sa administrasyon,” he added.
Pangilinan was referring to the controversies involving Duterte’s appointees in various government departments and agencies.
The biggest Cabinet member of the Duterte administration to figure in a controversy is erstwhile foreign affairs secretary, Perfecto Yasay Jr., whose appointment was rejected by by the Commission on Appointments because of questions regarding his citizenship.
The PNP, meanwhile, has been criticized for its bloody war on drugs and alleged abuses in its anti-drug operations.
The Bureau of Immigration, on the other hand, was recently under the spotlight after two of its deputy commissioners, who are Duterte’s fraternity brothers, figured in an extortion scandal.
Duterte also fired National Irrigation Administration (NIA) chief Peter Laviña after the latter was accused of asking money from NIA contractors, an allegation that the president’s staunch supporter denied. The Palace later said Laviña resigned, and was not sacked.
National Food Authority administrator Jason Aquino, meanwhile, is currently under investigation amid allegations of corruption.
The latest Duterte appointee to figure in a controversy is actor Cesar Montano, the chief operating officer of the Tourism Promotions Board.
Employees of the TBP, an attached agency of the Department of Tourism, have filed a complaint against Montano for allegedly entering into questionable contracts and engaging in nepotism.