DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 04 December) — Vice President Leni Robredo announced her resignation as Housing Secretary Sunday, a day after she was informed of President Rodrigo Duterte’s instructions for her “to desist from attending all Cabinet meetings” starting Monday, December 5.
In a press statement, Robredo said she received a text message last Saturday afternoon from Cabinet Secretary Leoncio “Jun” Evasco, “relaying the President’s instruction through Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go.
“Gd afternoon, Madam Vice President. Mayor Rody Duterte thru Bong Go asked me to relay to you the instruction for you to desist from attending all Cabinet mtngs starting This Monday Dec 5, 2pm. Ty,” Evasco’s text message said.
No reason was cited in the text message.
MindaNews sought Evasco and Go but as of 8:15 p.m., they had not responded.
In a nine-paragraph statement, Robredo she had been warned of “a plot to steal the Vice Presidency” but chose to ignore it and focus on the job at hand. “But the events of recent days indicate that this plot is now being set into motion,” she said.
She said the text message from Evasco was “the last straw, because it makes it impossible for me to perform my duties.”
“Hence, I am tendering my resignation from the Cabinet on Monday, December 5, 2016. With this resignation, you can expect that I will continue to support the positive initiatives of this administration and oppose those that are inimical to the people’s interest,” she said.
Robredo noted that from the start of the new administration, she and Duterte had major differences in principles and values.
“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,” Robredo’s statement read.
She said she had hoped their shared commitment to the poor and marginalized would transcend their differences so she accepted the job of Housing Secretary.
Duterte offered Robredo the Cabinet post on July 7, 37 days after he told a press conference here that he was “non-committal” about giving Robredo a Cabinet post because he did not want to offend his friend, former Senator Ferdinand Marcos, who placed second in the vice presidential race.
“Si Leni, she should understand that she belongs to the opposite side. There is no compelling reason for her to be a member of the Cabinet,” he said on May 31. But he added “we are still studying the script of the movie.”
On July 7, a week after the President met Robredo at the turnover rites of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Camp Aguinaldo, and three days after Robredo paid a courtesy call on the President in Malacanang, Duterte asked Robredo in a televised phone conversation: “Pwede ka Housing, Ma’am? Can you be the Housing Secretary?”
Robredo accepted his offer to head the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) with Cabinet rank.
Roberdo said they have solid accomplishments in HUDCC in the last five months, “despite the obstacles thrown our way” such as the budget for all key shelter agencies in 2017 which was slashed by more than P19 billion; all key shelter agency appointment recommendations were not acted upon; and the Executive Order designed to make HUDCC effective was not signed.
“As your duly elected Vice President, I will not allow the Vice Presidency to be stolen. I will not allow the will of the people to be thwarted. I will continue to serve the Filipino family and fulfill their dream for a better life,” Robredo said.
Robredo ran under the administration’s Liberal Party. Marcos, the running mate of Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, placed second to Robredo in the Vice Presidential race. Marcos filed an electoral protest before the Supreme Court’s Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) on June 29, a day before Duterte and Robredo took their oath as President and Vice President, in separate venues. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)