MANILA- Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo belied allegations that he lacked empathy when he criticized Vice President Leni Robredo for delaying the release of her findings and recommendations on the narcotics crackdown, claiming that she is only after public attention.
Panelo dismissed as “pure nonsense” criticism that he lacked concern for victims of the magnitude 6.9 earthquake that hit Davao del Sur, for trying to “score political points when we’re in the middle of a tragedy.”
"Her (Robredo) decision to call a press briefing to announce that there is no press briefing, while flashing her 40-page report, reveals that she only wants the spotlight," the President's spokesman said.
"She has deferred her report a number of times, looking for a perfect timing and hoping that people would pay attention to her as she struggles to be relevant…" he added.
Robredo on Monday called for a press briefing to show her finished report on her discoveries and recommendation on the government’s drug war during her short stint as co-chair of the Inter-agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs.
She however announced that she would put off the release of the 40-page report and instead appealed for help for victims of the earthquake.
"Kung hindi naiintindihan ni Secretary Panelo kung bakit ipinagpaubaya ng ating bise presidente ang pag-release ng report ngayong umaga pagkatapos nung lindol na nangyari kahapon, eh siguro totoong wala s'yang puso at malasakit para sa ating mga kababayan,” Robredo spokesman Barry Gutierrez told reporters.
(If Secretary Panelo cannot understand why the vice president deferred the release of her report following the earthquake, then it only shows that he has no heart and concern for our fellow countrymen.)
Panelo turned the tables on Robredo’s camp, saying the Duterte administration did not accuse her of lack of sympathy when she was on a foreign trip when typhoon Nina struck her home region Bicol in 2016.
"This is not the time to vacillate. If she has 'discoveries' that she threatened to expose, bring it on! As the President dares her to do," he said.
Duterte's spokesman said it was Robredo who announced that she would release her report in the first place, hyping public expectation.
"This Administration, through the various agencies of the government, provides reports to the people regularly. It is not as if when the Vice President speaks, the world will stop and the government will halt its operations to provide assistance in Davao," Panelo said.
"If VP Leni has anything to recommend to improve the current anti-illegal drug war, out with it," he added.