July 22, 2018, 11:27 pm
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Robredo agrees to lead opposition vs Duterte

VICE President Leni Robredo yesterday accepted the call of several groups for her to lead efforts to unite the opposition movement against President Duterte.

“There are a lot of groups opposing the same issues. But they don’t coordinate with each other and they are not united. And that’s the role I want to take: To ensure their voice will become one so they would be listened to more. I want to make sure the message they want to convey would be understood,” Robredo said.

President Duterte expressed doubts on the capability of Robredo to lead the opposition, saying she is incompetent to run the country.

The President made the statement during a chance interview at the sidelines of the National Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) Summit 2018 in Pampanga, where he was asked about Robredo’s pronouncements that she is willing to unite opposition groups and take on the role as the movement’s leader.

Duterte said he does not think Robredo can govern because of incompetence, adding he has no plans of resigning from the presidency if it means that she would succeed him.

“She’s not capable of running a country like this, Philippines,” he said.

Last Monday, Duterte said he is willing to cut short his term as president if there would be a shift from the current unilateral government to a federal system before his term expires in 2022.

He said that he wants a transitory president to be elected and would not agree to let Robredo succeed him if he steps down from office soon.

Robredo said she had long taken the role of opposition leader, noting that she had been critical of some of Duterte’s policies and decisions.

Last week, she met with representatives of several groups that staunchly oppose Duterte, like Tindig Pilipinas, Akbayan, Magdalo, and the Liberal Party, of which she is chairperson. During this meeting they asked her if she could be their opposition leader and she agreed.

Robredo said among their plans is crafting a united opposition slate, which she hopes will be formed by September in time for the October filing of certificates of candidacy for the 2019 elections. 

She believes more Filipinos would be encouraged to oppose the government’s abusive policies if there is a prominent voice that will champion them.

“A lot of our countrymen are saying they need a leader, but I have also been saying it is all our obligation, right? It is our obligation to express what we feel. It is our obligation to oppose what needs to be opposed,” she said.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said it was not surprising that Robredo would accept the role of leading the opposition movement against the Duterte administration since “she is the highest elected member of the opposition.”

Robredo, after her election in 2016, initially served as a member of the Duterte Cabinet but later resigned due to irreconcilable differences. – Angela Lopez de Leon
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