Vice President Leni Robredo said on Wednesday that she met former US ambassador Philip Goldberg only twice in social events months ago and there was never any discussion about ousting President Duterte during their brief encounters.
Robredo made the clarification anew after she was asked by reporters in Tiwi, Albay about her supposed involvement in the alleged oust Duterte movement and rumors that the former US envoy prepared a blueprint to topple the President.
“I don’t believe that there is such a thing as (oust Duterte movement). Ambassador Goldberg and I had two encounters, first is during an event and second is when he paid a courtesy call in my office,” she said.
“We didn’t talk about the President. What we discussed was the bilateral relations between the US and the Philippines,” Robredo said.
Goldberg made a courtesy call on Robredo in her office in Quezon City in August last year, more than a month after she assumed her post as Vice President.
They also attended a forum on strengthening health programs in Muslim areas in Mindanao at the Heritage Hotel in Pasay City in October last year.
Photos of them together in both occasions were widely tweeted and retweeted in social media.
The Vice President said instead of calling for the President’s removal from office, the public should ask him to listen to their sentiments.
Robredo said she has not talked to the President since she was barred from attending Cabinet meetings last month.
“I tried but it appears that he doesn’t want to talk to me,” she said.
Robredo, however, said she and the President are not enemies.
“Let’s just give him time,” she said.
Robredo also said the Liberal Party (LP), which she chairs, has no capability of ousting Duterte, with only a few members remaining in the party.
Many LP members shifted to the President’s party PDP-Laban following his election.
“I think it’s obvious that the Liberal Party is no longer powerful. How many of us remain in the party right now?” she said.
“It became a joke among us that the LP now has become a Volkswagen,” she said.
“Maybe the party was strong during President Aquino’s term, but now we are only a few in the party,” Robredo said.
She said LP members are talking informally among themselves on the possible directions it would take in the future, but the party has yet to formally convene.
Palace hits VP
Presidential spokesman Undersecretary Ernesto Abella assailed Robredo for criticizing the administration’s alleged slow assistance to the victims of recent Typhoon Nina, even as the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) admitted it does not knothole enough manpower to provide the relief goods to the household level.
Abella accused Robredo of capitalizing on disaster to hit President Duterte and his administration over the issue.
“The remark Ms. Robredo made saying that the relief operations were slow suggests a cynical political mindset willing to capitalize on disaster,” Abella said.
Instead of appreciating the response of the concerned government agencies and officials, Abella asked why Robredo resorted to finger pointing when she was not around when the typhoon struck many provinces, including her hometown in Bicol.
“One wished she displayed more appreciation of the work of our disaster officials, our social workers and other volunteers who were on Ground Zero even before Nina made landfall,” Abella said, taking a potshot at Robredo who was criticized for being in the United States at a time when her provincemates needed her assistance.
Robredo said there should be no politics in disaster response and relief as she called the accusation against her for her remark on slow government response in areas hit by the typhoon.
“Iyong panahon ngayon, panahon na magtulung-tulungan tayo. Parang nag-over react naman ata,” Robredo said when asked to comment after Malacañang said she seems to be capitalizing on disaster after she hit the slow government response.
Robredo visited Brgy. Salvacion-Centro, Buhi, Camarines Sur and other areas that suffered devastation when Typhoon Nina hit.
She explained that the problem is not on the entire Bicol region but areas that suffered devastation by the typhoon.
She lauded local government units and officials in the Bicol region who are from different political parties but have been cooperative in disaster response and relief.
The private sector, she said, was also mobilized for disaster relief.
“Sana magtulungan na lang,” she said.
The Vice President said people affected by the typhoon appealed for fast relief operations and assistance to those who lost their homes and livelihood from abaca and coconut farming. – With Christina Mendez, Rainier Allan Ronda
SOURCE: Philippine Star