MANILA (UPDATE) - President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday accused Vice President Leni 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.
"Sinabi ko sa tao 'yan that I am a night person, my day begins at 2, 2 o'clock hanggang gabi na, no limit. Hanggang gabi na 'yan, umaabot ng alas dos, alas tres ng umaga," Duterte said.
(I told the people that I am a night person. My day begins at 2, 2 o'clock until the evening, with no limits. From night until 2 o'clock, 3 o'clock in the morning.)
Duterte denied he was sleeping while people were suffering during the typhoon.
"Ngayon kung sabihin mo may emergency, natutulog ako sa umaga, hindi ako natulog noon. Gising ako ng umaga because of the summit," he added.
(Now if you say that I was asleep during an emergency, I was not sleeping. I was awake because of the summit.)
Robredo, however, debunked Duterte's allegation that she was asking for his whereabouts.
"I just called out Sec. Panelo for peddling fake news. I am also calling out whoever peddled the fake news to the President, kaya ganito siya ka pikon. I never said 'Where is the President'? You can review all my tweets," said on Twitter.
Duterte: Military, police deployed 2 days ahead of typhoon
Duterte, meanwhile, defended criticisms on government response to Typhoon Ulysses, saying that the military and the police were prepositioned after receiving orders from him days before the tropical cyclone's landfall.
"Hindi mo na kailangan orderin 'yan sila kasi two days before, deployed na yan sila doon po. Nasa bodega na yan sa mga gobyerno. Naka-deploy na 'yan, pati na nga yung sa Davao, yung security ko kinuha, dinala dito in anticipation. Sunod-sunod kasi," he said.
(You don't have to give orders to them because they have been deployed two days earlier. They are already prepositioned. Even my security personnel in Davao, they deployed half of them here in anticipation.)
According to Duterte, the military will not listen to Robredo because she is "not in the line of authority."
"Alam mo yang mga military officers, hindi 'yan maniwala sa iyo. because tama sila you are not in the line of authority. Wala kang ano. In times of emergency, ako lang at military," he said.
(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.)
Robredo, who has been visiting those affected by the typhoon, never looked for Duterte nor questioned his whereabouts during the typhoon.
She was relaying calls for rescue at the height of the Cagayan Valley floods.
"Marami sa inyo tumutulong sumagot sa mga umiiyak at humihingi ng tulong para ma rescue sa Cagayan at Isabela noong gabi ng Nov 13 hanggang sa madaling araw ng Nov 14. I did what I felt was my job," Robredo said.
"Pinapasa namin yung lahat na distress calls sa lahat na puwede namin ma contact on the ground - AFP, PNP, everyone we can get hold of. Buhay ng ating mga kababayan ang nakataya. There is no space for our ego when lives at are stake," she added.
In a separate statement, Robredo's legal counsel and spokesperson, Atty. Barry Gutierrez, said some officials are using the calamity for politicking.
"VP Leni has been working non-stop for over a week to bring aid and support to our fellow Filipinos who have been hardest hit by the typhoons and the flooding. She has done so without fanfare, and with no concern for politics," he said.
"It is unfortunate that a number of administration officials, and now even the President himself, are seemingly determined to make this national calamity yet another excuse to engage in another nasty round of politics as usual. The VP will not be dragged down to their level -- there is just too much work that still needs to be done, and too many people that can still be helped," Gutierrez added.
The hashtag #NasaanAngPangulo trended on Twitter on Thursday while typhoon Ulysses lashed parts of Luzon.
Duterte later said his aides barred him from going to victims of Typhoon Ulysses.
This was not the first instance that the hashtag has trended. #NasaanAngPangulo was used even during past administrations whenever social media users think a president is missing during disasters.