VICE President Leni Robredo on Tuesday night said the Filipino people, not President Duterte, would judge her capability to lead the nation when the time comes.
“Hindi naman siya iyong magde-desisyon kung qualified ako o hindi, pero iyong taumbayan iyong magdedesisyon (It’s not for him to decide if I’m qualified or not but the people),” Robredo said in reaction to Duterte’s latest tirades.
In his weekly public address aired last Monday night, Duterte said Robredo is not fit to be president after she called him out for allegedly trying to “extort” from the United States government by seeking compensation in exchange for the continuation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between Manila and Washington.
Reacting to Robredo’s quip, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said that the President, as a voter and as a sitting president, can assess and say if Robredo is qualified and fit to be the next Chief Executive of the country.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque made the statement after the camp of the Vice President claimed that it is the voting public who would decide if she is fit and worthy for the highest position in the country or not.
“That is correct, it is the decision of the public. But part of the public is the president who would also cast his vote,” Roque said in an interview with state run PTV 4.
He said that Duterte, with his experience as president, would also know the mandate, the challenges and qualifications needed to qualify for the highest-ranking position in government.
“Because he is a president, he knows the capabilities needed to be a president and based on his assessment, the Vice President is not fit to become president,” he added.
Robredo’s spokesman Ibarra Gutierrez has defended the Vice President from the President’s tirades, saying that she has already proven her leadership many times by cleaning up after the administration, citing her activities to fill the many gaps in the government’s COVID-19 response.
Robredo, who is expected to be the Liberal Party’s standard-bearer in the 2022 national elections, said she would no longer waste time defending herself from Duterte’s remarks because the insults are nothing new to her.
“Of course, I’m saddened that the response to our proposals are insults but it’s beyond my control. I’m only in control of what I can do. I’m saddened but it’s okay. We’ll not allow it to affect us,” she said.
The Vice President however said any leader would surely benefit by listening to the points of view and suggestions of other people because it’s the only way to good performance.
“It will be good for us all if leaders listen to suggestions, if they’ll listen to criticisms on policies. The whole world showed that in times of crisis, leaders who know how to consult, those who know how to accept shortcomings, those who listen and are more consultative, they have a better response,” Robredo said.
Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo found it amusing that Sen. Panfilo Lacson, a non-lawyer, would advise the President “who is learned and trained in law, about a provision in our basic Charter”.
“In treading in unfamiliar terrain, Senator Lacson necessarily and mistakenly believe that he has a role in the country’s present policy on the VFA,” Panelo said explaining that Article VII, Section 21 of the 1987 Constitution talks of the conditions when an international agreement may become valid and effective but it is “not applicable to the present discussions on the VFA, which is currently in force”.
“To be fair to non-lawyers, a plain reading of the constitutional provision will immediately lead them to that understanding — that senators have a role in prospective international agreements, not in existing ones…The ongoing talks about the existing VFA fall under the country’s foreign relations, which the President, as clearly expressed by the Constitution, is the chief architect of,” he said.