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Palace on Duterte remark vs. Leni: ‘The president has standards’



Malacañang on Wednesday defended President Rodrigo Duterte’s remark that Vice President Leni Robredo is incompetent to govern the Philippines, saying the President has a certain “standard” of aptitude given his almost 30-year experience in public service.

Duterte, in an ambush interview in Clark Pampanga, said he was not inclined to resign because it would make Robredo the next President.

“Siya ang mag-President (She will become President)? Look, I will not resign because it will make her President. I don't think she can ever be ready to govern my country. Reason? Incompetence," Duterte said.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque explained that Duterte’s assessment of Robredo’s performance could be rooted from the President's own experience as Davao City mayor for more than 20 years, and Representative of the 1st District of Davao City from 1998 to 2001 under the 11th Congress.

Robredo was Representative of the 3rd District of Camarines Sur prior to becoming Vice President. She is also the wife of the late Interior Secretary and former Naga City Mayor Jesse Robredo.

“At iyong assessment naman ni Presidente na incompetent si VP, hindi naman natin maaalis ‘yan dahil halos tatlumpung taon naman nanilbihan sa gobyerno ang ating Pangulo (On the President’s assessment that the VP is incompetent, we can’t take that away from him because he has served the government for almost 30 years),” Roque said over state-run Radyo Pilipinas.

Roque emphasized that it was simply Duterte’s nature to speak his mind, and appealed to the public to respect Duterte's comments.

“Siguro naman mayroon siyang mga standards ‘no at mayroon siyang mga guidelines ‘no kung sino ang competent at hindi kompitente; at siya nama’y nagsasabi lang kung ano talaga ang saloobin niya (Perhaps it’s just that he has standards, he has guidelines on who is competent and who’s not; and he’s only speaking his mind),” Roque said.

“Respetuhin po natin ‘yan dahil ito po’y isang obserbasyon ng isang taong napakahaba ng paninilbihan sa ating gobyerno (Let’s respect it because this is just an observation of a person who has served in government for so long),” he added.

Roque also pointed out that Duterte did not want Robredo to lead the transition government should the country shift to a federal system of government.

“Ang konteksto po ng sinabi ni Presidente kung bakit hiniling po niya sa Consultative Committee na magbuo ng transitory provision, na ang transition leader eh dapat ihalal ng taumbayan dahil ayaw niyang ibigay kay VP Leni iyong liderato during the transition ‘no (The context of why the President asked the Consultative Committee tasked to make Transitory Provisions, that the transition leader should be elected by the people is because he did not want to give VP Leni the transition leadership),” Roque said.

Duterte earlier said he preferred to hold general elections to determine the transition leader, who will head the proposed shift to a federal system of government.

“My resignation is addressed to the people so that they can choose whoever they want,” Duterte said.

“I would like the Filipino to choose a new leader, especially if it is a new structure and I have been an official of the structure of type of government which, since time immemorial, (is) unitary,” he added.

Azer Parrocha / PNA