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A GREAT deal of concern has been expressed over the sudden resignation of Vice President Leni Robredo from President Duterte’s Cabinet, where she was chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council.
She had been texted by Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr. that the President did not want her to attend any more Cabinet meetings starting Monday, December 5. “The reason is there are irreconcilable differences between VP Robredo and the administration,” Evasco said.
Her decision was welcomed by her partymates in the Liberal Party (LP). Sen. Francis Pangilinan, president of the LP, was critical of the way she was told she was no longer wanted at Cabinet meetings. “She should have been treated with greater respect,” he said.
Another partymate, Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat, saw the incident as an opportunity for the LP to “close ranks and form the country’s real opposition bloc.” The LP, majority party for six years, had quickly disintegrated into a minor player in the government after President Duterte’s win, many of the LPs joining his “super-majority” in the House.
Still another reaction came from Sen. Francis Escudero, who had run with Sen. Grace Poe in their own party in the last election. “I cannot help but be saddened that this early, the Duterte government will be in for a rough political time in 2017 which, in turn, will inevitably have an effect on the economy,” he said.
Vice President Robredo herself saw the presidential order to exclude her from Cabinet meetings as resulting from her opposition to some issues such as the burial of former President Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, extrajudicial killings, reinstating the death penalty, lowering the age of criminal liability, and sexual attacks against women.
The objection to extrajudicial killings certainly ranks as an “irreconcilable difference” between her and the President. It may be recalled that on this same issue, President Duterte had lashed out at United States President Barack Obama as well as against United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and the European Union.
There are bound to be some political repercussions from the Robredo resignation, but not enough, we hope, to derail the economic plans of President Duterte for the nation. The LP may well consider the proposal that it organize itself into a viable opposition party, instead of losing itself as a minor cog in the administration wheel. But on major economic programs to improve the lives of the Filipino people, they should work together.
The new administration is about to embark on a major infrastructure program with billions of pesos set aside for new roads, bridges, ports, airports, and other structures that should get the economy going. The Robredo resignation incident may have some political repercussions, but we hope they will not set back the bigger picture of economic growth and development in this first year of the new administration.