Roque: Duterte believes 'almost anyone can be better than' Robredo

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 31) — President Rodrigo Duterte believes "almost anyone," including a dictator, is a better leader than his constitutional successor, Vice President Leni Robredo.

This was how Malacañang explained the President's latest tirade against Robredo. Speaking at an event in Mandaue City Thursday night, Duterte said the Philippines would be "better off choosing a dictator in the likes of" the late President Ferdinand Marcos.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Friday said this was Duterte's "personal assessment."

"Siguro po (Maybe) that's just the personal belief ni Presidente na (of the President that) almost anyone can be better than the Vice President," Roque said in a Palace press briefing.

Robredo, however, urged Duterte to stop the rants and just get back to work.

"And instead of continuing to glorify a dictator who stole billions from our country, drove the nation into debt, and presided over the murder and imprisonment of thousands of Filipinos, he can work on truly unifying the nation, and assuring our people, especially those at the fringes, that their voices are being heard and that their daily suffering will soon be eased," Robredo said in a statement.

Marcos is accused of amassing billions in ill-gotten wealth and human rights violations during his two-decade rule. His son, former Senator Bongbong Marcos, filed an electoral protest, accusing Robredo of cheating and claiming that he was the rightful winner in the 2016 vice presidential race.

Roque believes Duterte's statements against Robredo are "not at all" affecting the proceedings of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, which began a manual vote recount last April.

"They are just going through the ballots to ascertain kung sino talaga ang binoto ng taong bayan (who the people voted)" Roque said.

Probe on Robredo's in-law?

Roque stressed that Duterte's statements are based on facts - including his claims that Robredo's hometown, Naga City, is a "hotbed of shabu" and that her brother-in-law was to blame.

"There is factual basis for anything and everything that the President says because he has access to information," Roque said.

He said there could be an investigation on Robredo's in-law, whom the President accused of bringing illegal drugs to the Bicol region, including Naga in Camarines Sur province.

Robredo, meanwhile, said it was "ridiculous" to continue to pin the blame "on a blind man." Reports quote the Office of the Vice President as saying it was Butch Robredo that the President was linking to drugs.

"Perhaps instead of constantly repeating this ridiculous allegation, and throwing mud on the name of a city that thrives on good governance-and that staunchly supports the call to fight illegal drugs-he can turn his attention to the P6.8-billion shabu shipment that slipped past his customs officials," Robredo said.

Duterte on August 14 said shabu has been proliferating in Naga, as he again cast doubts on Robredo's competence to lead the country. The Philippine National Police said it will present data to prove the President's claim.  What it has made public so far was Naga City's allegedly high crime rate which Robredo also debunked.