The Armed Forces of the Philippines’ General Headquarters (AFP-GHQ) at Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City did not receive any request for storm-related operations from Vice President Leni Robredo during the onslaught of typhoon “Ulysses,” a military spokesperson disclosed Wednesday.
“Here at the General Headquarters from where all directives to deploy disaster responders emanate, no requests or information of distress calls were received from the Honorable Vice President,” said Major General Edgard Arevalo, AFP spokesperson.
Arevalo was responding to queries about the coordination between the military and Robredo when typhoon Ulysses inundated major parts of northern Luzon, specifically in Cagayan, over the weekend.
Until the wee hours of the night last Sunday, Robredo had given updates through her official Twitter account about the coordination she made with the military which led to the safe rescue of several affected residents.
Arevalo said Robredo must have coordinated with the ground commanders during those times.
“Nonetheless, we were on a round-the-clock monitoring and deployed follow-on search, rescue, and retrieval teams (SRRTs) at the onslaught of typhoon Ulysses with instructions to coordinate directly with Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Councils (LDRRMCs) headed by [the] local chief executives,” Arevalo said.
“But be that as it may, if ever the VP had our operational commanders as her ‘contacts on the ground’ as she mentioned in her tweet, and if those calls were received by our action units on the ground, they will render appropriate actions as circumscribed in the orders of President [Duterte], SND (Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana), and CSAFP [Chief of Staff of the AFP General Gilbert Gapay] to provide the needed assistance — with the information coming from [the] VP [Vice President],” he added.
The AFP official’s statement came after President Duterte lashed out at Robredo for supposedly giving orders to the military when the disaster hit even if she “was not in the line of authority to do it.”
“While you were making calls, nagche-check ka pakunwari… Alam mo ‘yung mga military hindi ‘yan maniwala sa iyo because tama sila you are not in the line of authority basta ganoon,” Duterte said in a televised Cabinet meeting on Tuesday night.
(While you were making calls, you were checking on the people even if it’s not true… You know, the military won’t believe you because they were right, you are not in the line of authority in times like that.)
“Wala kang… Times of emergency, ako lang pati ang military. It’s between me and military pagka pulis. Iyan lang sila kami mag-ano (You have no… [In] times of emergency, it should only be me and the military. It’s between me and military, including the police. We are the ones that should [coordinate]),” he added.
In response, Robredo said she only did what she thought was within the bounds of her duties as the second highest official of the land to help those who were in need.