Philippine Vice President Ma. Leonor “Leni” Robredo said she’d prefer holding her peace unless it’s “absolutely necessary” to issue statements on controversial issues facing the administration.
In a television interview aired Thursday, March 1, Robredo lamented how her dissenting remarks on some of President Rodrigo Duterte’s policies or statements were swiftly given “political colors.”
“When you voice out your dissent, it seems the interpretation is always because you stand to benefit. So for me, as long as it’s not absolutely necessary, I keep my peace,” the vice president told CNN Philippines.
She further lamented how her detractors accuse her of being “in a hurry” to oust Duterte and replace him as the chief executive whenever she criticizes some of his administration’s policies.
Robredo, a prominent opposition figure, had been denunciatory of the alleged police abuses and extrajudicial killings associated with the administration’s war against drugs.
She also consistently opposed the burial of former President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes’ Cemetery), as well as the proposals to reinstate the death penalty and to lower the age of criminal liability in the country.
However, for the past few months, the vice president has been noticeably quiet on recent key issues, such as the extension of martial law in Mindanao and the ban on Rappler reporters from entering Malacañang.
Explaining her apparent silence, Robredo said: “For me, I try to hold my horses if it’s not too necessary. Because I’m the vice president, everything I say is given political color. When I say things, some will say I can’t wait to replace the president.”
“And it’s unfortunate because when you voice out your dissent, it’s because you want certain things happening to change, or certain things happening to stop. It’s not because you want to oust the president,” she added.
In 2016, Duterte appointed Robredo as the chair of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC). But Robredo quickly resigned after she was barred from Cabinet meetings, which was apparently due to her political and ideological differences with the president.
Asked if she’s still open to another Cabinet post, Robredo told CNN Philippines she’ll be willing to accept an offer but had to talk things over with the president first.
“I will tell the president that I will be very much willing to work with him. I will be very much willing to support what he’s doing,” she added. “But if there are things that I don’t agree on, I have to say so. If that’s fine with him, then okay.”
While appreciating Robredo’s “readiness” to rejoin Duterte’s cabinet, Malacañang, in response, said there’s is no new offer for her at the moment.
In a press briefing on Friday, March 2, Palace Spokesperson Harry Roque said he was not aware of any current position available to the vice president.
“Hindi ko po alam na kinokosidera siya ng presidente sa kahit anong Cabinet position (I don’t know if the President is considering her for any Cabinet position),” Roque said. “So to the vice president, we appreciate her readiness, unfortunately parang wala naman pong offer ngayon (it seems there’s no offer now).”