MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo said President Rodrigo Duterte wasted an opportunity for him to directly tell Filipinos how he plans to address the country's economic problems during the latter's one-on-one interview with Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo.
Robredo was asked on Wednesday, September 12, to react to Duterte's originally scheduled address to the nation on Tuesday, September 11, that was later reformatted into a one-on-one interview with Panelo. (READ: SUMMARY: What Duterte said during Q and A with Panelo)
"Maraming sinabi iyong ating Pangulo pero nasasayang[an] tayo sa pagkakataon. Iyong sa aking inaasahan sana, napakalaking pagkakataon iyon para i-address iyong pagkabahala ng taumbayan tungkol sa kahirapan na pinagdadaanan natin ngayon sa ating ekonomiya," said Robredo.
(The President said many things, but it was a wasted opportunity. It would have been a chance for him to address the various concerns of the people right now on poverty and the economy.)
"Iyong aking inaasahan, kaya niya haharapin iyong taumbayan kahapon para sabihin nga na: 'Totoong may problema tayo, pero ito iyong solusyon na ginagawa ng ating pamahalaan. Huwag kayong mag-aalala at iyong pamahalaan is on top of the situation,'" added the Vice President.
(I was expecting that the reason why he was going to face the nation was to tell us: "It is true that we have problems, but here are the solutions being offered by the government. Do not be alarmed because the government is on top of the situation.")
In the interview with Panelo, Duterte expressed support for Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol's idea of allowing the entry of rice from Malaysia but imposing tax on the imports.
He also said that he is looking for a replacement for National Food Authority Administrator Jason Aquino, whom Robredo and other Liberal Party lawmakers want fired.
The President also admitted inflation is high, but he said his economic managers are "working on it." (READ: Duterte may issue EO to address inflation)
Still, Duterte managed to mention opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV 20 times during the interview, which lasted an hour and 30 minutes. The President had ordered the revocation of Trillanes' amnesty.
Robredo said this is not the time for Duterte to go after one of his toughest critics, especially when Filipinos are going hungry. (READ: LIST: False claims of Duterte, Panelo about legal issues on Trillanes amnesty)
"Hindi nakakatulong na mas pinagtuunan ng pansin iyong away nila ni Senator Trillanes. Tingin natin, iyong away nila hindi dapat nangyayari sa panahon na dapat nagkakaisa tayo, sa panahon na dapat niyu-unify iyong taumbayan dahil nagdadaan nga tayo sa matinding kahirapan," said Robredo.
(It does not help when he is focused on his rift with Senator Trillanes. I think their feud should not be happening during the time when we're supposed to be united as we endure great sufferings.) – Rappler.com