MANILA - A spokesman for Vice President Leni Robredo on Tuesday said their camp is happy that President Rodrigo Duterte is in good health even as they sounded alarm over a draft Constitution omitting her from the line of succession.
Earlier in the day, Acting Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año said the President does not have cancer after days of public clamor for information about the 73-year-old leader's health.
"Natutuwa kami na magaling si Presidente. Sabi ni VP naman, nobody wants the President to be sick; we want him healthy, we want him working. If he says na ganun 'yun, I suppose na kailangan nating galangin yun," lawyer Barry Gutierrez told reporters ahead of the Supreme Court’s oral arguments on the petition against the Philippines’ withdrawal from the International Criminal Court.
(We are happy that the President is well. The VP said nobody wants the President to be sick; we want him healthy, we want him working. If he says that, I suppose we have to respect that.)
"Kailangang ipaliwanag that under the Constitution, in case of serious illness, the public is entitled to know yung kaniyang state of health. Pero on our part, we will respect yung kaniyang deklarasyon na yan," he said.
(It must be explained that under the Constitution, in case of serious illness, the public is entitled to know his state of health. But on our part, we will respect his declaration.)
He said Robredo understands that the President has taken an oath and he knows the Constitution, including his obligation therein "with respect to disclosures on his true state of health."
"The Vice President understands that the President also took the oath, he understands the Constitution and he should know kung ano yung kaniyang obligasyong gawin sa ilalim ng Konstitusyon," he said.
(The Vice President understands that the President also took the oath, he understands the Constitution and he should know what he is obligated to do under the Constitution.)
Last week, in the same speech where he admitted having a medical checkup the day prior, Duterte said Robredo is "weak," mentioning again his preference of having the country ruled by a military junta.
Over the weekend, it was reported that a draft federal charter by House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and some other lawmakers have reached the chamber's plenary.
Among the provisions included in this version is that it would be the Senate President, not the Vice President, who will be next in the presidential line of succession during the transition to federalism.
Gutierrez said he was thankful this provision was brought up because the real "agenda" behind the proposals for Charter change from the House of Representatives finally became clear.
"Nung una, sinasabi nila na revision daw ng economic provisions, pag-implement daw ng federalism, tulong daw sa bayan, pero lumalabas dito na wala naman talagang interes actually na tutukan yung mga problemang hinaharap sa kasalukuyan ng ating mga kababayan," he said.
"Walang kadahilan-dahilan kung bakit isi-skip over ang vice-president doon sa turn of succession," he added.
He said there was a "contradiction" in the proposal because it also stated that the president and vice president elected in 2016 will be allowed to serve their terms until 2022, but the principal job of a vice president is to be a "constitutional successor."
"Kung tatanggalin mo sa kaniya yun at ililipat mo sa Senate President, parang sinabi mo na rin na in-abolish mo na yung opisina ng pagka-Bise Presidente," he said.
(If you will remove that power from the Vice President, it's akin to removing the office of the Vice President.)
"Klarong klaro dito na walang malinaw na dahilan na binigay, walang katuturan, walang sense. Sa akin, klaro na ngayon yung intention behind yung buong proposal na ‘yan," he added.
(It was very clear there was no proper reason. No sense. This shows their true intention behind that proposal.)
Gutierrez is confident, however, that there are "enough right-thinking senators" who would not support the House of Representatives' proposal.- report from Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News