MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo did not choose to leave the president's Cabinet to lead his political opposition, her spokesperson said Wednesday.
In a tweet, Barry Gutierrez, the spokesperson of Robredo, posted a screenshot of a text message from former Cabinet Secretary Leoncio “Jun” Evasco Jr. instructing the vice president to "desist" from attending Cabinet meetings.
“Ayoko na sanang patulan pero sobrang sinungaling eh. ‘Pinili’ daw ni VP Leni na umalis sa Gabinete para maging lider ng oposisyon. Hay naku, magsisinungaling na lang andali pang hulihin,” his tweet said.
(I didn’t want to react anymore, but he’s a liar. He said VP Leni apparently ‘chose’ to leave the Cabinet to be the leader of the opposition. He's going to lie but it's so easy to catch.)
“Gd afternoon Madam Vice President. Mayor Rody Duterte through Bong Go asked me to relay to you his instruction for you to desist from attending all Cabinet mtngs starting This Monday Dec 5, 2pm. Ty," the text message by a certain "CabSec Jun" read.
Ayoko na sanang patulan pero sobrang sinungaling eh. "Pinili" daw ni VP Leni na umalis sa Gabinete para maging lider ng oposisyon. Hay naku, magsisinungaling na lang andali pang hulihin. Resibo: pic.twitter.com/HlqGxnhvDw— Barry Gutierrez (@barrygutierrez3) July 21, 2021
He was responding to a claim by presidential spokesperson Harry Roque that the vice president opted to separate from government proceedings owing to her position as leader of the opposition.
"If you remember, she was given a Cabinet post by the president, but she chose to become the leader of the opposition, which is why she just became a 'decoration' for the past five years. But from the start, the president did not lack. She was given a Cabinet post as Housing secretary," Roque said in an interview with GMA-7’s Unang Hirit.
This is false.
As far back as the start of her term, Robredo's functions have been limited due to tensions between her and President Rodrigo Duterte.
The vice president was first given a post as chair of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, where she remained until she was instructed to leave.
In her resignation letter, Robredo said she exerted all effort to put aside their differences and maintain a professional working relationship with the president.
"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 told the president in her letter.
Later on, she was appointed as co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs, but only after she was challenged by Duterte in response to her criticisms over the drug war.
Barely weeks after her appointment, though, Robredo was removed from her post with Duterte saying he could not trust her with administration secrets.
This was because she was the leader of his political opposition, he said.