MANILA (UPDATE) - President Rodrigo Duterte should not be "onion-skinned" or sensitive to criticism, Vice President Leni Robredo said Wednesday after the former accused her of starting an online trend calling out government's supposed inadequate disaster response.
The hashtag #NasaanAngPangulo (Where Is The President) trended on Twitter on Thursday while Ulysses inundated large swaths of Luzon.
"Para sa’tin, dapat kasi di tayo balat-sibuyas sa ganyan, kasi traditionally naman kung sino ang nakaupo marami talagang reklamo ang tao. Di dapat siya nagiging dahilan para magaway-away lalo na sa panahon na dapat nagtutulong-tulungan," she said in a Facebook live while extending aid in Ragay town, Camarines Sur--her home province.
(For us, we should not be 'onion-skinned' to those kind of things because the public traditionally has many complaints against those in power. It shouldn't be a reason to sow discord at a time that we should be helping each other.)
"Kahit nung time ni PNoy (former President Benigno Aquino III) ginagamit na 'yung hashtag na 'yan. 'Yung ngayon, di lang yata ngayong typhoon, parang ginamit na siya even before."
(That hashtag was used even during the time of PNoy. This administration, I think it was used even before the typhoon.)
President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday accused Robredo of lying about his whereabouts while typhoon Ulysses battered parts of the country last week.
In a lengthy, repeated rant during his weekly public address, Duterte called Robredo a liar, accusing her of misleading the public that he was missing in action during the typhoon.
"I would like to just give a caution to the vice president. She made a blunder, a big one, and she practically lied, making her incapable of truth," he alleged.
"Alam mo, 'yung pakana niya na wala ako sa bagyo. I was here, dito. I was attending a summit, ASEAN Summit 'yun, so virtual lang, palit palit kami. We were talking electronic. Nandito ako noon. Kasagsagan ng bagyo, dumaan diyan sa labas, nag-uusap kami dito," Duterte added.
(You know, what you said that I was missing during the typhoon, I was here. I was attending a summit, the ASEAN Summit. I was attending virtually. I was here. While the typhoon was raging outside, I was attending the summit.)
He also said that he is a "night person" who works late into the night reading official documents.
For the vice president, Duterte's recent accusations brought her back to 2016 when she was removed from the Cabinet supposedly based on false information she joined a rally.
In November last year, Duterte fired her as co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs after just 2 weeks allegedly due to fake news that she had invited United Nations probers to look into his anti-drug campaign.
Duterte apologized for believing the false information but fired her a day after.
“So para sa akin, ang mga sunod-sunod na nangyayari nagpapakita na yung peddlers of fake news nasa paligid mismo ni Presidente. And tingin ko malaking kasalanan yun para kay Presidente. For him to react that way, nagrereact siya sa false information. Kaya sa akin, pakiusap ko lang, andami nang peddlers of fake news dito sa atin, huwag na nilang dagdagan,” she said.
(For me, this recent allegations show that the peddlers of fake news surround the President, and I think that's a big offense to the President. My appeal is, there are already many fake news peddlers nowadays, don't add to their numbers.)
Robredo said it was "unpresidential" of Duterte for telling her that he would insult her if she runs for president.
"I think that’s very unpresidential pero karapatan niya namang sabihin kung ano ang dapat niyang sabihin pero siguraduhin niya lang na tama 'yung pinagbabasehan niya and in this case, mali siya," she said.
(I think that's very unpresidential but it's his right to say whatever he needs to say, he should just make sure he has basis, and in this case he's wrong.)
The Vice President said whoever peddled the "fake news" that she began the hashtag must have been someone close to the President.
"Ang pakiusap ko wag na nilang dagdagan kasi sobrang dami na ng peddlers of false information," she said.
(I appeal to them, don't increase the numbers of the already many peddlers of false information.)
"Ang pinakakawawa dito ang ordinaryong taumbayan na naa-access 'yung kanilang sinasabi at napapaniwala nila sa maling impormasyon."
(The ordinary people are the one who will ultimately suffer from false information.)
Robredo said she called out Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo for peddling "fake news" that she accompanied a C130 plane carrying relief goods from the social welfare department and national disaster council.
"'Yun talaga 100 percent false. Never akong gumamit ng C130 plane at kami ang dami naming ginagawa sa opisina na hindi naman ako sa kanila humihingi ng tulong," she said.
(That's 100 percent false. I never used a C130 plane and in the many programs of my office I never sought help from them.)
Robredo also rejected allegations she ordered the military to conduct relief operations. Duterte had accused her of stepping outside her mandate and of competing with him.
“‘Yung sinasabing inoorderan ko yung mga military, mali din yun. Tayo, lahat ng distress calls na natatanggap natin, ay pinapasa natin to whoever was on the ground. And yung AFP was part of that. At hindi lang AFP, pati PNP, pati officials,” she said.
(It's incorrect that I ordered the military. All distress calls we receive we forward to whoever was on the ground. AFP was part of it, so was the PNP and local officials.)
Duterte did not need to go out or appear during the height of the disaster, according to the Vice President who was among the first to coordinate response for Cagayan residents when their province was submerged.
"Pag humihingi ang mga kababayan natin ng tulong, kailangan merong lumabas, whether ako 'yun or si Pangulo, pwede nga si Secretary Harry Roque or head ng NDRRMC," she said.
(When the public calls for help, someone has to go out or show up, whether that's me or the President, or even Secretary Harry Roque or the head ng NDRRMC.)
"Sabihin narinig namin kayo, nakuha lahat ng calls for help niyo, help is coming. Gagawin namin lahat para masalba kayo, dapat ganun ang mensahe."
(We should say we got your calls for help, it is coming. We will do everything to save you, that should be the message.)
Roque earlier trended on social media when a video of him singing in a public setting came at a time when the country was reeling from typhoons and floods.