MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte's staunch critic, former senator Antonio Trillanes IV on Wednesday started a social media campaign to defend Vice President Leni Robredo, who was criticized by the chief executive and his supporters over her relief efforts.
In a Twitter post, Trillanes, who ran against Robredo during the 2016 national elections, called her "the face of the government" during the typhoon.
Trillanes meanwhile called the president a "lazy, incompetent fool."
"Back off, you lazy, incompetent fool! VP Leni did her duty and more. In fact, she was THE FACE OF GOVERNMENT during the typhoon," he tweeted.
"Di natin pwede payagan to. Let us all speak out and #DefendVPLeni," Trillanes added.
Duterte earlier accused Robredo 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. Robredo has denied starting the trend and said she was busy working.
Over the weekend, Sorsogon Governor Francis Escudero, who also ran for vice president in 2016, also defended Robredo from critics, saying she is doing her share as part of the national government.
Robredo has debunked Duterte's accusations that she asked his own whereabouts, saying she only called out Palace chief legal counsel Salvador Panelo for falsely claiming she rode on a government plane to donate relief goods.
She also emphasized she was just relaying calls for rescue at the height of the Cagayan Valley floods due to Ulysses, after Duterte said the military will not listen to her in times of emergency because she is "not in the line of authority."
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Wednesday also backed Robredo, whom he said did not board any government plane when she distributed aid to typhoon-hit Catanduanes.
“I requested the Philippine Air Force to confirm through their flight manifest and they reported that there was no instance that Vice President Robredo boarded any military aircraft in going to Catanduanes,” said Lorenzana in a statement.
He, however, said there was a jibed mission using an Air Force “Huey” helicopter which carried the relief goods of the Vice President to Catanduanes from Legazpi City, Albay on Nov. 3, apparently for the residents hit by Typhoon Rolly.
“Secretary Lorenzana said he has sent his apologies to the Vice President for making a comment based on an erroneous report submitted to him,” the statement read.