MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte's legal counsel on Wednesday said he had apologized to Vice President Leni Robredo for claiming that she was free-riding on the government's relief effort for survivors of typhoon Ulysses.
Presidential Chief Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo told ANC that he got the wrong information that Robredo used a government C-130 plane to deliver relief aid to typhoon-hit Catanduanes from a series of text messages between 2 other officials
"Sumabay ka doon sa mga relief goods. O, 'di parang ikaw ang may dala noon," he earlier alleged in his talk show aired on state-owned People’s Television network.
(You went with the relief goods, and made it appear they were yours.)
"Immediately after" learning his mistake, Panelo said he went on separate radio show and "immediately expressed my apology to her for expressing an opinion relative to an information which happened to be inaccurate."
Panelo said he also sent a text message to Robredo to say sorry.
Robredo earlier Wednesday said she "never used a C-130 plane" of the government.
"Ang dami naming ginagawa sa opisina na hindi naman ako sa kanila humihingi ng tulong," she said in a chance interview.
(My office is doing so many things for which I don't ask their help.)
"Ang mga sunod-sunod na nangyayari nagpapakita na iyong peddlers of fake news nasa paligid mismo ni Presidente... Kaya sa akin, iyong pakiusap ko lang: ang dami nang peddlers of fake news sa atin; huwag na nilang dagdagan," she added.
(Recent incidents show that peddlers of fake news surround the President. My request is there are already so many peddlers of fake news, let us not add to them.)
However, Panelo said he was "not apologizing for distributing or peddling a false info." He added that he was "not apologizing for criticizing her demeanor that every time she goes out distributing relief goods, and castigating the government for not doing anything."
Pressed to give a direct quote of Robedo criticizing the government for inaction in the typhoon, Panelo said "I don’t remember all exact words, all you have to do is go back to her first statement and tweets."
The public can scan through Robredo's Twitter page here.
Robredo said Wednesday she never asked where the President was when social media users hit his absence from public eye during the onslaught of typhoons Rolly and Ulysses.
She said bringing relief to typhoon survivors was also not a contest.