Vice President Robredo was invited by Filipino Americans in Pennsylvania, who gave her the most number of votes in the last election and spoke before the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA). But it was her press conference on August 6 that gained the attention of her critics and the supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte.
A YouTube video uploaded by someone with a username “The Storyteller,” Robredo was heard saying:
“Sir, if you are familiar with our Constitution, if you look at the Constitution, the Vice President doesn’t have real powers, except to wait for something to happen to the President.”
This line was repeated in slow motion, to put emphasis and, possibly, malice, into what Robredo said.
And a blog was quick to put an evil spin to this part of Robredo’s reply, with its title “Did Leni Robredo practically say “I’m just waiting for Duterte to die?”
The blog was shared by a Duterte fan page.
Mocha Uson’s Facebook page also shared the video, quoting “… except to wait for something to happen to the President,” with the call for her fellow DDS (Die-hard Duterte Supporters) to share it.
In one of the comments under Mocha’s post, in the midst of enraged Duterte supporters bashing Robredo because of the video clip, a certain Roxann Uy pointed out that the Vice President was right in summarizing what was essentially her role as VP. The commenter also said that she is a Duterte supporter and her Facebook page indeed bore at least two posts about Duterte.
She added that if Duterte’s supporters wanted the President to be treated fairly, they should do the same to other people. She called for Mocha to avoid sharing something that was taken out of context.
Transcript of the press conference
So, we went in search for what other things Robredo said during that press conference, which brought us to her official website, www.lenirobredo.com.
You can find the transcript of her press conference in Pennsylvania here.
The question was: How do you plan to be a different kind of vice president?
“I do not know if you are familiar with our Constitution pero if you look at our Constitution, the vice president has no real power except to wait for something to happen to the president.
Parang saying yata iyong six years na naghihintay lang tayo. When I look at the budget over the years, ganoon nga ang nangyayari.
The Office of the Vice President has one of the smallest budgets in all the departments of the government, which is expected kasi wala naman siya talagang trabaho.
The bulk of the budget of the vice presidency is admin, ceremonial, and local affairs. And local affairs are more political.
We do not want that to happen. In my six years as vice president, we want to reinvent the OVP into more advocacies but the budget does not allow that. We are already getting budgetary savings already and we started by moving the office from the Coconut Palace to New Manila.
The rent of the Coconut Palace before was a little less than 500,000 and we found a new place which allows us to save at least 200,000 a month.
So gusto naming sana, we are still asking help from DBM if we can use the savings for more advocacy work and that is what we are doing now. Even before I started my term, we sort of tried to assess what kinds of advocacies because we cannot spread ourselves too thinly.
We decided on 5 core advocacy areas. The first is hunger and food security, the second one is universal healthcare, the third one is public education, the fourth one is rural development and the fifth one is empowerment.”
And she went on to discuss her plans for these advocacies, all the while exclaiming how providential it was that Duterte appointed her as the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) chairman.
“In fact, during the planning, one of my staff suggested, let us add housing as one of our advocacy areas because that has been my advocacy since I was a practicing lawyer, I worked heavily with informal settlers. It is also the advocacy of my late husband pero sabi ko sa kanila huwag na tayong mag-ambisyon sa Housing dahil without government support we can never push for that advocacy. Napaka-providential naman kasi noong nakasa na naming iyong 5 core advocacy areas, the Housing portfolio was offered to me kaya parang it is our 6th advocacy,” Robredo said.
According to Article VII Section 8 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, the Vice President shall serve the unexpired term of the President “in case of death, permanent disability, removal from office, or resignation.”
As for those accusing Robredo of implementing Liberal Party’s Plan B, she has denied any plans of her assuming the presidency, even if some malicious people online used to create fake posts about her impeaching Duterte. Robredo has previously said that it was former Senator Bongbong Marcos, who first talked about LP’s Plan B, who has the ambition of becoming president, not her.
Basically, Robredo was merely summarizing the Vice President’s role as a ‘spare tire,’ as mandated by the Constitution. If you read the transcript of her interview, there was no malice when she said those words about the VP “waiting for something to happen to the President.” It was just that the clip was cut so short and epically taken out of context that made what Robredo said seem ominous.
Robredo even said that unlike other vice presidents, she does not plan on wasting her six years in office by “waiting” and performing her ceremonial duties. That was why she went on to talk about her advocacies despite the financial limitations of her office and her plans as the HUDCC chief.
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