MANILA - Vice-President Leni Robredo countered the tirades hurled by President Rodrigo Duterte at 7 of the 8 Otso Diretso candidates, standing by the track record of candidates Romulo Macalintal, Gary Alejano, Erin Tanada, Pilo Hilbay, Mar Roxas, Bam Aquino and Chel Diokno.
Robredo said it was the President’s choice not to be impressed by the opposition candidates. She said all Otso Diretso candidates, including Samira Gutoc who was left out by the President, underwent a rigorous selection process based on their capabilities.
"Meron itong mga track record na pinanindigan. In fact, 'yun ang basehan bakit silang 8 ang napili," the Vice-President said.
She added that it was a good sign that the Otso Diretso candidates are starting to get noticed despite criticism from the President.
“The mere fact na si Presidente na mismo ang pumansin, inisa-isa yung mga kandidato, nagpapatunay na nagpi-pickup yung mga kandidato," she said.
She also disagreed with the President that the Otso Diretso candidates only know how to criticize the government.
Duterte on Sunday said the opposition's senatorial candidates are heading "straight to hell" for always criticizing his administration. "Otso diretso papuntang impyerno. Walang ginawa, puro criticize," Duterte said in a speech.
He also criticized each Otso Diretso candidate except Gutoc.
Robredo said a public debate is needed with the administration candidates so that controversial issues can be threshed out.
"Pag hindi sila nilagay sa isang entablado, walang basehan ang taumbayan na sabihin na dito ako naniniwala, na 'yung kanyang paniniwala, pareho sa akin," she said.