Vice President Leni Robredo is not the country’s de facto president as President Duterte remains in charge of the country’s affairs, including the typhoon relief and rehabilitation efforts, according to Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo.

PANELO - Panelo: Leni not de facto president as PRRD remains in charge
Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo
(OPS / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Panelo insisted that the President has been working hard to serve the people as he took a swipe at Robredo for acting like she was the only official working and responding to the latest calamity.

The Palace official was reacting to an article written by Federico Pascual that Robredo has supposedly become the country’s acting president due to the alleged absence of Duterte during the onslaught of the recent typhoon.

“Mr. Pascual, you’re peddling lies, kasinungalingan yang sinasabi mo (you’re telling lies),” a visibly irked Panelo said in his “Counterpoint” program Tuesday.

“Kita mo ‘yang mga kabalbalan na sinasabi mong de facto. Mamaya ‘yung mga nandyan sa kalsada, hindi de facto, ikaw impakto (Look at your foolish claims about a de facto president. People on the street may call you ‘impakto’ not de facto),” he said.

Panelo came to the defense of the President, calling him a hardworking leader while slamming Robredo for acting like she was in charge.

“Si Presidente nagtatrabaho simula’t sapol. Itong si VP Leni kaya ayaw natin kay VP leni kasi VP leni, okay lang naman nagtatrabaho, but don’t make it appear, sabi nga ni (Defense) Secretary (Delfin) Lorenzana, as if ikaw lang nagtatrabaho at mga inutil ang mga opisyales (The President has been working from the start. That’s why we don’t like VP Leni. It’s okay that you work but don’t make it appear, like Secretary Lorenzana said, as if you’re the only one working and other officials are inutile),” he said.

“How can you compete, how can you even compare with the kind of work the government does for the people?” the Palace official asked Robredo.

Panelo claimed that Robredo hitched a ride on a military airplane carrying relief goods and made it appear she brought the cargo to a typhoon-hit area.

“Kahit kino-consider mo na kalaban ng administration, ikaw ay pinaunlakan sa pakiusap mong makisakay kaya lang ang problema ipinalabas mo naman na ikaw ang nagko-coordinate, ikaw ang may dala ng mga relief goods. Kung hindi man ikaw ‘yan, ‘yung mga tao mo. Eh siyempre dapat alam mo rin ‘yan (You were accommodated to ride the military plane but the problem is, you made it appear that you were the one coordinating, you were bringing the relief goods. If that’s not you, maybe it’s your staff. Of course you must know this),” he said.

Panelo made a similar claim that Robredo used a government plane to reach storm-hit Catanduanes in a previous episode of his program on state television.

He appealed to the government detractors to stop criticizing Duterte.

“Alam ninyo, tigilan ninyo yung ginagawa ninyo kay Presidente. Hindi na kayo nakatulong, nakakabigat pa kayo. Ang ating president napakasipag (Stop what you’re doing to the President. You’re not helping and you’ve become a burden too. Our President is very industrious),” he said.

Panelo proposed anew the possible Duterte-Duterte tandem in the 2022 presidential elections to ensure the continuity of the administration’s programs. But so far, he noted, the President and his daughter Sara Duterte Carpio have yet to decide on the matter.

“Mabuti kung pumayag na tumakbong bise presidente at yung kanyang anak pumayag na tumakbong presidente eh di sana may continuity (It would be good if the President agrees to run for vice president and his daughter will agree to run for president so we would have continuity),” he said.

“Pero hindi natin alam kung sila ay tutugon sa panawagan ng marami sa ating kababayan (But we don’t know if they will respond to the call of many citizens),” he added.

Panelo previously said he hopes the President will run alongside his daughter in the upcoming elections. He said the opposition won’t stand a chance if the Duterte-Duterte tandem will pursue the electoral bid. “Oh, ‘di ba? Ang ganda! Duterte-Duterte. Wala na. Patay ang oposisyon pag tumakbo ang dalawang ito (Just imagine. It’s good. Duterte-Duterte. Game over. The opposition won’t stand a chance if these two would run),” Panelo said last September.

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