President Rodrigo Duterte recently stated that his ideal replacements should he step down are Sen. Francis Escudero and former senator Bongbong Marcos, and not sitting Vice President Leni Robredo.
Duterte’s statement came less than a month after he expressed belief that Robredo could be a capable president.
The president’s preference
Duterte made the statement at a conference with the Kapisanan ng Mga Broadkaster ng Pilipinas on Tuesday.
“I think deep in my heart, if you follow the succession and Robredo takes over, she can’t handle it. That’s my honest opinion. I wish it were someone in the likes of Escudero or Bongbong Marcos,” Duterte said.
In a separate statement, Duterte claimed that Robredo was incapable of assuming the presidency as her hometown Naga had become a “hotbed of shabu.”
“I am hesitant to suggest a constitutional succession. I have nothing against Robredo. She’s a lawyer. You have heard her talk. But I do not think she can improve on anything here,” he said.
Duterte has been critical of the vice president in recent months. In July 2018, the 73-year old chief executive said that he would not step down so that Robredo would not become president.
A month later, he commented that Robredo would be a capable successor in the event that he passed away.
His recent criticism came less than a month since his rare expression of confidence in Robredo.
Critics reminded the president to follow both the succession of leaders as mandated by the current constitution and the results of the 2016 elections.
Pres Duterte is the Pres by operation of the Consti.
VP Robredo is the Vice Pres by operation of the Consti.
If the Pres resigns, the VP becomes the Pres by operation of the Consti.
The constitutional task of a VP is precisely to wait for the possibility of a succession.
— florin hilbay (@fthilbay) August 15, 2018
So the President grants no respect to the millions of Filipinos who voted for VP Robredo?
— JoeAm (@societyofhonor) August 15, 2018
Duterte has been consistently for Bongbong
Marcos, who finished second to Robredo in the vice presidential race, has been praised by Duterte even before the latter’s presidency.
In February 2016, Duterte remarked that he would give the presidency to Marcos if he was unable to fulfill his promise of ending crime in the country within three to six months. This is despite the fact that the president ran alongside then vice presidential candidate and Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, who donated an amount larger than his own net worth to Duterte’s campaign kitty.
It was also during Duterte’s presidency that the remains of Marcos’ father, the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, were buried in the Libingan ng Mga Bayani.
The Supreme Court decision that allowed the move was widely protested.
Robredo and Marcos are currently awaiting the results of a recount of the vice-presidential, following protests from Marcos’ camp.
Escudero and Marcos have aligned with the administration despite running for vice-president alongside Duterte’s opponents in the 2016 polls.
Duterte’s running mate in the elections was current Foreign affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, who finished third behind Robredo and Marcos.
Robredo’s legal adviser Barry Gutierrez hit back at the criticism by reminding Duterte that Cayetano was his running mate, and not Escudero or Marcos.
Tatlong bagay lang. Una, 155,000 na pamilya ang natulungan ni VP Leni, na walang anomalya, walang kurakot, at habang walang puwesto sa Cabinet. Pangalawa, pasensiya na siya, pero TALO si BBM at Chiz nung eleksyon. Pangatlo, hanggang dito ba naman nakalimutan pa rin si Alan? https://t.co/ruDwXWYXQw
— Barry Gutierrez (@barrygutierrez3) August 15, 2018
Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos, Bongbong’s sister, recently joined forces with the Hugpong ng Pagbabago, the newly-formed political party of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, the president’s daughter.