Fact-check on Duterte's tirades vs Robredo, UP

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 18 2020 06:11 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte presides over a situation briefing with the members of his Cabinet and local government officials at the Provincial Capitol in Pili, Camarines Sur on Nov. 15, 2020 to discuss disaster response measures and relief efforts in the aftermath of Typhoon Ulysses. Karl Norman Alonzo, Presidential Photo

MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday night opened and ended his speech meant to address the coronavirus pandemic with a verbal attack on Vice President Leni Robredo's typhoon efforts. He also threatened to defund the University of the Philippines. 

But how accurate are the Chief Executive's claims? Here is a fact-check. 

DUTERTE CLAIMS ROBREDO 'LIED' ABOUT HIS ABSENCE

Duterte alleged Robredo "practically lied" about his whereabouts during last week's onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses, which left dozens dead and swamped Luzon. 

"'Yung pakana niya na wala ako sa bagyo," he said. 

(Accusations that I was absent were her handiwork.) 

The hashtag #NasaanAngPangulo or "where is the President" trended as Duterte attended a virtual summit with fellow Southeast Asian leaders, while Typhoon Ulysses inundated the capital and other areas in Luzon. 

Earlier this month, the hashtag also gained online traction after Duterte, 75, stayed in Davao City and failed to attend a Cabinet-level briefing on Super Typhoon Rolly, which slammed into Luzon. 

Robredo said critics could check her Twitter account to verify that she never inquired about the President's whereabouts. 

"Bakit ako maghahanap na busyng-busy na nga tayo sa pagtulong at pagsagot sa mga distress calls?" she said in a chance interview.

(Why would I look for him where I was very busy helping and answering distress calls.)

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Robredo also noted that #NasaanAngPangulo was first used during the administration of Duterte's predecessor and her ally, Benigno Aquino III. 

The former President attended a car show, instead of condoling with the families of 44 policemen slain in an anti-terror raid in January 2015. 

ROBREDO AND THE MILITARY

"The military will not listen to Robredo because she is "not in the line of authority," Duterte also said. "Alam mo 'yang mga military officers, hindi 'yan maniwala sa iyo. because tama sila you are not in the line of authority... In times of emergency, ako lang at military."

(You know the military will not follow you because you are not in the line of authority. In times of emergency, it's only me and the military.)

But Robredo said she only forwarded to the military distress calls from people trapped on their rooftops by floods in Cagayan Valley. 

"Hindi naman ako nag-o-order ng AFP," said Robredo. 

(I was not giving orders to the AFP.)

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INSINUATIONS ON PERSONAL LIFE 

"Ikaw, noong gabi, anong oras ka umuwi? Isang bahay ka lang ba, 2 bahay? Nagtatanong lang ako. Kay congressman ka. Kaninong bahay ka natagalan?" asked Duterte. 

(At night, what time do you go to sleep? Do you have one house or 2? I am just asking. You go to congressman. Whose house do you spend time in?)

To this, Robredo responded in a tweet: "When a President is a misogynist, the conversation goes down to this level."

She also posted a video of how she actually spends her evenings with her staff repacking relief goods for typhoon victims. 

This is not the first Duterte made lewd remarks about the Vice President. In 2016, he remarked about Robredo's skirt and teased her about her relationship status, also implying he was a viable option for the widow of former Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo. 

As recently as September, Robredo said it was "unimaginable" for her to date after her 25-year marriage with her late husband. 

ATTACKING STATE UNIVERSITY 

Aside from Robredo, Duterte also attacked state-funded University of the Philippines, citing alleged rebel recruitment on its campuses: "Maghinto kayo ng aral? I will stop the funding. Wala nang ginawa itong mga ano kundi mag-recruit ng mga komunista diyan." 

(You'll stop studying? I will stop the funding. You are doing nothing there but recruit communists.) 

In 2018, the military also accused UP and 17 other universities of recruiting communists. Caloocan City College, one of the schools Red-tagged by the military, does not exist. 

Duterte threatened to defund UP because he "somehow confused" it with the Ateneo de Manila University (AdMU), where some students recently called for an academic strike over the "criminally neglectful" government response to recent typhoons and the COVID-19 pandemic, said his spokesman Harry Roque. 

Duterte's message "should have only been addressed to Ateneo students," said Roque, who graduated from UP and taught there for close to 20 years. AdMU, however, is a private school and not State-funded. 

It would be "legally infirm" for Duterte to remove funding for UP over student protests, Sen. Francis Pangilinan said.