In a fighting stance, Vice President Leni Robredo on Friday hurled her harshest ever criticism at President Rodrigo Duterte who said he would like to see a dictator succeeding him if he steps down before his term ends in 2022.
Banging the war drums, Robredo said the time has come for people to stand up against Duterte and his plan to place the country in the hands of a dictator.
“This is the time to fight,” Robredo said in her speech at the 2018 Ramon Magsaysay Awards ceremony on August 31, 2018 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines in Manila.
Robredo called on all the people to defend the country against dictatorship.
“The message for all of us is clear: each one of us is called to turn our gaze to the last, the least, and lost,” the Vice President said.
Robredo said what the country needs is not a dictatorship, but leaders who can improve people’s lives.
What we need are “quiet courage and empathy, and leaders that put in the hard work of actually transforming the lives of people,” Robredo said.
The Vice President rued that these qualities “are rarities in these times, when dictatorship is claimed by some to be better.”
Duterte earlier said he would rather have the Philippines ruled by a dictator and not Vice President Leni Robredo as president.
Mulling an early retirement because he is “tired,” Duterte said he would be comfortable with former Senator Bongbong Marcos or Senator Chiz Escudero succeeding him if he steps down before his term ends in 2022.
Duterte said the country would be “better off with a dictator in the likes of Marcos.” The Preident was refering to the late dictator President Ferdinand Marcos, the father of Sen. Marcos who ruled the country with iron fist under martial law for nearly two decades.
Duterte said he would not like the Vice President to succeed him because Robredo is “incompetent” to be President, even as the Constitution provides that the Vice President is next in line to the presidency, if a President resigns or dies.
Reacting to the President’s statement, Robredo said Duterte should instead be focusing his energy in solving the country’s pressing problems rather than attack her.
In the speech at the Magsaysay Awards event, Robredo said there is no future for a country “when those trusted by the electorate threaten lives instead of protect them, divide the nation instead of unite it, attack people’s cherished beliefs instead of nourishing them, and present themselves only through bravado and empty promises as the antidote to what they say are outdated and decaying ideas like democracy.”
Without directly naming Duterte, Robredo said the attacks from these leaders lead to a “scorched earth existence where people are killed, institutions are decimated, and our way of life is threatened.”