By MB Online
Vice President Ma. Leonor “Leni” Robredo announced her resignation effective Monday, December 5 as housing secretary, citing differences with the administration.
Robredo, in a statement released Sunday, December 4, said she will relinquish her post as chairperson of the cabinet-level Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC).
She will hold a press conference about her resignation on Monday.
She claimed receiving a text message on Saturday from secretary to the Cabinet Leoncio “Jun” Evasco Jr. “relaying [President Rodrigo Duterte’s] instruction through [special assistant to the president Christopher “Bong”] Go for me ‘to desist from attending all Cabinet meetings’ beginning Monday.
“This is the last straw, because it makes it impossible for me to perform my duties,” Robredo said in her statement that she opened with the words: “We had hoped this day would not come.”
In a Facebook post, former Akbayan party-list representative Barry Gutierrez showed a photo of Evasco’s text message to Robredo.
Cabinet secretary Evasco confirmed over radio DZMM that the president indeed made the directive for Robredo to no longer attend Cabinet meetings. “I called her up first but there was no response.”
But Evasco said the president did not instruct Robredo’s termination. “Whatever her decision is, it is her prerogative.”
Before receiving the text message, Robredo enumerated the three “obstacles thrown in our way” even as she boasted HUDCC’s “solid accomplishments” within barely five months:
- “The budget for all key shelter agencies in 2017 has been slashed by more than P19 billion.”
- “All our key shelter agency appointment recommendations have not been acted on.”
- “The Executive Order designed to make HUDCC effective was not signed.”
Robredo also cited the “major differences in principles and values” between her and President Rodrigo Duterte as a factor for leaving her post, referring to the policies being pushed by the administration and the seemingly vicious attacks against women.
“Since I assumed office, I have been consistent in my opposition to issues such as the burial of former President Ferdinand Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani, extra-judicial killings, reinstating death penalty, lowering the age of criminal liability, and sexual attacks against women,” the vice president said.
Even with their polarity in political convictions, Robredo said she took the job of housing secretary because she and the president “both had a mandate to serve the people,” adding that she ”had hoped that this shared commitment to the poor and marginalized would transcend the differences between us.”
Evasco, in the same DZMM interview, confirmed there are “irreconcilable differences” between the two leaders that even the public knows.
While Robredo said she will continue to “oppose those that are inimical to the people’s interest,” she will still support “the positive initiatives of this administration” despite her departure from the Cabinet.
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella, in a separate interview over radio DZMM, described the composition of the president’s advisers as a “rainbow Cabinet” where he said the political differences of each members thrive.
Threat to her office
Robredo also stressed she will defend her position as the duly-elected vice president despite ignoring warnings about “a plot to steal the Vice Presidency.”
“I will not allow the Vice Presidency to be stolen. I will not allow the will of the people to be thwarted,” Robredo insisted, despite expressing fears that recent events “indicate that this plot is now being set into motion.”
“I will continue to serve the Filipino family and fulfill their dream for a better life.”
Abella and Evasco, in their separate DZMM interviews, declined to comment on the vice president’s insinuations.
Robredo, who was appointed HUDCC chair in July, follows the resignation of National Historical Commission of the Philippines chairperson Maria Serena Diokno, who cited her opposition to the Marcos burial as her reason.
She faces an electoral protest filed by former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., son of the late dictator, whom she narrowly defeated in the May 2016 elections.