MANILA — Malacañang said on Thursday Vice President Leni Robredo is "always wrong," after her comment that President Rodrigo Duterte is "pikon" or short-tempered.
Robredo made the comment on Wednesday after Duterte told her to "bring a basket" and shop for vaccines.
"Ang unang dating sa akin, parang hindi pangulo iyong nagsasalita. Pangalawa, sobrang pikon," the Vice President said of the president's comment.
"Dapat sa trabaho namin, hindi kami napipikon eh, kasi sa trabaho namin, kailangan iyong tao malayang mag-criticize eh. Kailangan iyong tao malayang magbigay ng suggestions, kasi iyon iyong makakapabuti sa aming panunungkulan," she said in an interview.
(The way I took it was it's as if it is not a President who was speaking. Second, he's short-tempered. In our job, we should not be quick to anger because we need the public to be able to freely critize. They should be free to give suggestions because that will improve our service.)
But Duterte's spokesman explained the President's outburst was prompted by Robredo's support for the call of some health care workers for a review of Sinovac's COVID-19 vaccine by the Health Technology Assessment Council (HTAC).
“Iyan po ay reaksyon ng Pangulo sa tao na laging mali,” he told reporters in a televised briefing in reference to the opposition leader.
(That is the reaction of the President to a person who is always wrong.)
The HTAC is "recommendatory," Roque said.
“Hindi po dapat ipagsapalaran ang buhay ng ating mga medical frontliner sa panahon ng pandemya,” he added.
Duterte has hurled verbal attacks against Robredo on several occasions.
In November, he accused Robredo without evidence of fanning public criticism over his alleged absence during government response to a destructive storm. The President also made insinuations about Robredo’s love life, which the Vice President said were “misogynist.”
Duterte also rejected Robredo’s suggestions on how to rescue the economy from recession due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Philippines on Monday launched its inoculation drive, with the help of 600,000 COVID-19 shots from Beijing-based Sinovac Biotech, which China donated.
Among the hardest-hit in Asia by the coronavirus pandemic, the Philippines is set to get later Thursday 487,200 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, courtesy of the COVAX Facility, that seeks to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 shots.