Robredo camp denies LP involvement in message to UN

Trishia Billones, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 21 2017 07:26 PM

Vice President Leni Robredo. File/NPPA

MANILA - The Liberal Party had nothing to do with the video message of Vice President Leni Robredo shown at the sidelines of the United Nations, where she criticized the administration's war on drugs, her legal adviser said Tuesday.

In an interview with ANC's Headstart, Atty. Barry Gutierrez maintained that no one from Robredo's political party advised her to do the speech.

"No, LP had nothing to do with it. This was a pretty standard invitation. She received a request from the organization that was going to hold a side event at that UN Conference, requesting her to actually speak on specifically—they provided a specific topic," he said.

"She was supposed to speak on the human rights implications of the ongoing war on drugs in the Philippines. There was a decision to actually honor this particular request, so that started the ball rolling," he added.

The LP, formerly the ruling party, and Robredo, the party's highest elected official, had been tagged in alleged destabilization plots against the Duterte administration.

President Rodrigo Duterte himself once said the "yellows," which had been associated with the party, wanted him out of office.

However, he had also previously cleared Robredo of any involvement in the movements to oust him. But he changed his tune recently when an impeachment complaint was filed against him, saying Robredo may probably be in a hurry to replace him.

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, a Duterte ally, said last week he may file an impeachment complaint against Robredo, who he said betrayed public trust when she sent the video to the UN.

But Gutierrez maintained that the video in itself cannot be used as grounds for impeachment.

"All she did was actually articulate a sentiment articulated to her by some of the people that have been approaching the Vice President to talk about their direct experiences with the war against drugs," he said, adding that the figures she cited have been stated before by news agencies and international groups.

He asserted, it was not Robredo's intention to appear anti-Duterte or make the President look bad before an international audience.

"The intention was to focus on the particular issue on deck at that point. And that issue was, specifically the human rights casualty on the War on Drugs," he said.

"I don’t think there was any intention to make the President look bad, or if that was the clear direction of what was being said," he added.

Gutierrez said this may have been the perception of some viewers of the video because Duterte "failed to distance himself from the ongoing concern on the War on Drugs that he is in fact waging."

"You’re not really going to be surprised if people feel that when you talk about the War on Drugs, it’s really a criticism against the administration," he said.