Philippine Vice President Leni Robredo on Monday vowed to oppose a new authoritarian regime in the country, after political differences with President Rodrigo Duterte forced her to quit the cabinet.
“Above all, we will strongly remain vigilant and cautious to prevent another return of any form of dictatorship,” Robredo said on Monday, stopping short of directly referring to Duterte as a dictator-in-the-making.
Robredo, a political newcomer, human rights lawyer and vocal critic of human rights violations, resigned as housing secretary on Monday after being told to stop attending cabinet meetings. She will keep her position as vice president, however.
“Your directive for me ‘to desist from attending all Cabinet meetings’ has effectively made it impossible for me to do my job. Remaining in your Cabinet has become untenable,” Robredo wrote to Duterte.
Duterte accepted Robredo’s resignation “with a heavy heart,” his spokesperson said, and appointed cabinet secretary and trusted ally Leoncio Evasco to head the housing sector.
Robredo has been critical of Duterte’s policies, particularly his crackdown on criminals and illegal drugs, the revival of the death penalty to deter crime and the rise of extrajudicial killings in his war against narcotics in the Philippines.
The two leaders also took opposite views on the burial of former president and dictator Ferdinand Marcos, with Duterte decreeing he be laid to rest in a cemetery reserved for heroes. Robredo said her opposition to the Marcos burial in November may have triggered Duterte’s decision to exclude her.
Last month, Duterte made comments that Robredo was pleased with her knees, when she wore a short dress during a cabinet meeting. Robredo described Duterte’s remarks as “tasteless and inappropriate,” with no place in society.
Presidents and vice presidents are elected separately in the Philippines. While Duterte overwhelmingly beat his rivals, Robredo’s narrow win over Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. is under protest at the Supreme Court, which is sitting as an electoral tribunal.
Robredo on Monday said she has received warnings of plots to unseat her and install Marcos as the new vice president. Duterte, during his recent state visit to China, even introduced Marcos as the Philippines’ likely next vice president, should the electoral protest succeed.
For now, Robredo said she will continue supporting the president on policies she deems beneficial to Filipinos, but will continue opposing Duterte’s war against drugs, which has already claimed over 5,000 lives.
Source: Nikkei Image: Wikimedia Commons